Tuesday, July 16, 2013

World Youth Day 2013 - Rio

I sometimes wonder why I keep doing this.  At about 7:45 AM tomorrow, I will load my pickup with a backpack and three other people so that we can make our way to Rapid City to join around thirty-five other people who, after Mass, will load a bus and head for Denver.  On Thursday morning, we will fly, via New York, to Brazil (Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) for World Youth Day with our Pope.

This will be my fifth such trip.  Previous World Youth Day events have occurred in Canada, Germany, Australia, and Spain.  Each, to date, has been hard, exhausting, at least occasionally wet, and physically demanding.  Each time before leaving, I wonder what possessed me to sign up yet again.  Then I come home and find that I cannot stop thinking about what I experienced, how great the other people were, and when I might see them again.  World Youth Day is too hard to communicate in a single post.  As a result, I will be blogging about the event as we go.  i have purchased an international data plan that will allow me to do so, so I hope to provide an update every day.  You can follow our South American Adventures here:


Pray for us.  Pray for the other young people of the world gathering there.  Pray for the Pope.  Pray for Brazil.

We will be back in the US on August 31.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Christ the Great High Priest

"We seek the God of consolation, not the consolation of God."  These were words first uttered to me by a consecrated virgin on the campus of Creighton University while I attended a spirituality program a number of years ago.  They communicate a message stubbornly true - it is my place to seek God, not simply His blessings.

These words have flitted through my mind off and on over the course of a couple of months.  It is one of my greatest temptations, I have found, to seek consolation in human relationships.  With another person, I can find warmth, companionship, intimacy, sympathy, and company.  Perhaps more to the point, however, in another person, I can find distraction; I can ignore at least for a time, the omnipresent knowledge that I am less than I could be, more vicious than I ought to be, less perfect than I am made to be.  Human relationships easily become the building materials for a facade that permits me to believe that I can get through life well while avoiding solitude.

This is not to say that human relationships are bad.  In fact, they are good, beautiful, and necessary.  As with all things, though, they must be ordered toward the goal of salvation, and all too quickly they become an end unto themselves.  This is especially true, if not for every priest, for me at least.  Thus, after a period of prayer and soul searching, I recently found myself asking Christ, "Can you be enough for me?  Can I be satisfied with you alone?"  His answer was not immediate, but He seems to be making slow reply day by day.

The first thing He did was bring me to an awareness of utter exhaustion.  I am so tired.  I feel as though I could sleep for a week and still sleep longer.  An introvert by nature, I need silence, but I take too little time for it.  So, when my vehicle recently broke down preventing me from going very far from the rectory and with Msgr. Woster on vacation, I was left to myself in the rectory.  Having overcome my annoyance at the lack of transportation, I found I was uninterested in leaving the rectory.  I spent this past winter watching television shows on Hulu before falling asleep.  I read very little, which is an oddity for one who, until recently, averaged a novel per week.  No vehicle, a quiet rectory, and nothing new on television prompted me to return to my books.  I have finished ten or so in the last several weeks.  

Then, schedules being what they are, I have been unable to spend much time with the people with whom I would generally spend the majority of my time.  I have been, largely, alone with my thoughts, with my fly rod, and with my God.  Instead of boredom, I have been finding rest, peace, and a shifting perspective.

In the midst of all this, I celebrated the forth anniversary ofmy ordination to the priesthood.   As I prayed the preface for that Mass, especially the final paragraph, I was reminded profoundly of who I am: 

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, 
always and everywhere to give you thanks, 
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For by the anointing of the Holy Spirit
you made your Only Begotten Son
High priest of the new and eternal covenant,
and by your wonderous design were pleased to decree
that his one Priesthood should continue in the Church.

For Christ not only adorns with a royal priesthood 
the people he has made his own, 
but with a brother's kindness he also chooses men 
to become sharers in his sacred ministry 
through the laying on of hands.

They are to renew in his name 
the sacrifice of human redemption, 
to set before your children the paschal banquet, 
to lead your holy people in charity, 
to nourish them with the word 
and strengthen them with the sacraments.

As they give up their lives for you 
and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters, 
they strive to be conformed to the image of Christ himself 
and offer you a constant witness of faith and love...
And suddenly, the answer was yes.  Christ can be enough for me.  It is not always easy, it is not without suffering, and it is not without the occasional desire for more.  But He is enough, and enough is all I need.