Monthly Archives: January 2014

Veiled Christ

Thought this was a great photo as well–quite moving!

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Living Our Baptism

Waters of Baptism make us a new creation

“We are called to live our baptism every day, as new creatures, clothed in Christ.” —Pope Francis

We recently celebrated the anniversary of my six-year-old son’s Baptism.  In my household this entails a dessert picked out by the honoree, retelling stories from that day and lighting their Baptismal candle.  This important day is one worth celebrating!  We are truly made new and welcomed as a member in God’s holy family through Baptism.  We also had the wonderful honor of celebrating this Sacrament for our newest God-child a little over a week ago.  It was a truly joyous occasion as well!

These experiences got me thinking about my Baptism and part in God’s family.  How timely a thought as Pope Francis tweeted this past Friday, “We are called to live our baptism every day, as new creatures, clothed in Christ.”  To live our Baptism every day!  But what does living as new creatures look like?

To begin with, we must ask ourselves this question–if we are truly a new creation, what has changed about us?  After all, our outward appearances seem to be the same.  We talk the same, look the same, appear the same height.  We have the same range of emotions,  need to eat, feel tired and get sick.  So what’s changed?

“Through Baptism we are freed from sin…”

While there are many ways to write about the change that has taken place, it is put quite succinctly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God…” (CCC 1213).  As sons (and daughters) of our heavenly Father, we are called to live in a way that reflects this reality.  We are to live as members of His household where His rules are abided by.  This change also unites you and I in a way that goes beyond mere blood lines.  We are family–I know the song went through my head too–but it is true!

To live our Baptism every day means to live in union with God our Father and in community with our brothers and sisters.  It means that we strive to go beyond the selfishness that permeates this world.  It means that we strive to know, love and serve our God side-by-side more deeply every day.  If we dare to live life that way, then we will truly live our Baptism every day, clothed in Christ.  What a joyous occasion that will be!

Facing reality: popes have ordinary moments, too

I saw this article and thought to myself…how long would I last if in any given day I only had 4 seconds of down time?

CNS Blog

UPDATED Jan. 16: The animated GIF is comprised of a dozen or more still photo frames shot within about 4 seconds. Each was cropped exactly the same. One of these frames is the featured photo. Neither the GIF nor the main photo were taken from video.

VATICAN CITY — Photographers covering the Vatican are witnesses to both the grandeur and ordinariness of the events that unfold here.

In a display of the ordinary, today I shot this unusual frame of Pope Francis as he rubbed his face.

He had just finished delivering his blessing at the end of his catechesis at the Wednesday general audience. The 77-year-old pope first rubbed his eyes, then his face. It was essentially the pope’s four seconds of down time before spending the next hour and a half greeting bishops, people with disabilities and many others.

My colleagues and I frequently see the pope doing…

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The Face of God

God the Father, by Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 – c. 1447)God the Father, by Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 – c. 1447)

The other night, I was tucking my 6-year-old son into bed and we were chatting before saying our prayers.  The topics of conversation were dictated by him and varied widely.  He recapped his favorite part of the day, asked me how magnets work, and wondered if I had “bad” dreams when I was little—something he has been struggling with lately.  After a bit, I said, “okay, now it’s time for prayers.  How are you going to talk to God tonight?”  I folded my hands, closed my eyes and waited while he proceeded to thank God for “everything.”  After giving him a blessing, I stood up to leave and said, “Goodnight son!”

As I was walking away he said, “Wait!  I have one more prayer!”  I sighed, turned around, and must admit, was feeling a little impatient as I was already thinking about the next task for the evening.  He closed his eyes, folded his hands tightly and prayed, “Dear God, help me get another teddy bear.  Amen.”  I assured him that God likes all of our prayers and that He loves it when he talks to Him.  Then I stood to leave.  He smiled and then turned thoughtful as he explained, “when I close my eyes and I see God’s face in my mind I see you, Daddy.”  Gulp…my impatience drained away.  I know that it is very common for children to have an image of God in their parents, but talk about big shoes to fill!  So I smiled at my son with a greater awareness that my glance, my touch, my words and my actions all speak to him about who God is.  “Goodnight my little one” I whispered with a kiss.

This got me thinking, by my words and actions do people recognize the face of God or does my life fade into the background of worldliness?

Jesus says, “this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  To have a life where our actions, words and beliefs are all in agreement means to live authentically and this is the life that God has destined for us–a life of love.  It is by living authentically that we bring the Gospel to the people we come in contact with and is where we can make the greatest difference.  This is how we show the face of God.  What an honor!  What a blessing!  What a challenge!

Today, as you and I look in the mirror we must ask, “Whose face do I see?”  We must pray for and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in how we live our lives.  Lord, transform our lives that we might be an image—an icon—of You.  May all those who come in contact with us see the face of God.  Amen.

Fulton Sheen’s Two Philosophies of Life

Supreme Pizza Slice [public domain]

My wife gave me a book for Christmas that contains reflections by Archbishop Fulton Sheen about St. Thérèse of Lisieux; it has been a fabulous read so far! In it, Sheen states:

You see, there are two philosophies of life. One is the pagan philosophy: First the feast, then the headache. The other is the Christian philosophy of life: First the fast, then the feast. Our law is first Good Friday, then Easter Sunday. First the cross, then the empty tomb.

This got me thinking—which philosophy do I spend my day pursuing? Truth is, I don’t really like fasting; honestly, I’m not very good at it. I’d rather have that next slice of pizza than skipping a meal to pray. I complain when I have to wait an extra minute for something and despite my attempts to seek God first, the instant-gratification mentality of our world flows through my veins, too.

Nope, I don’t like the fast. That’s not to say that I like the headache that comes after choosing my own way instead. I’d rather have Easter Sunday without Good Friday; to have the empty tomb without the cross.

The funny thing is, with both philosophies you get a feast. But is it the same feast? The answer, I believe is no. Something fundamentally changes in our appetites when we fast. This happens in a very literal sense—our stomachs will shrink, we feel fuller after eating less, etc. But it also happens in a spiritual sense as well. For instance, for the past several years I have decided to fast from listening to the radio in the car for Lent. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was very hard for me to have the quiet at first. However, by the end of Lent, I wasn’t hungry for the noise; I craved silence. My appetite had changed.

The fact is God’s way, not the extra slice of pepperoni, is always the one that leads to ultimate happiness. All of the many things that catch my eye are fleeting, temporary substitutes for the real-deal that God offers me if only I would see through the lens of faith and hold out for what He offers. It is a much better feast in the long run. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering already. Bon appétit!