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Posts from the ‘Personal Ministry Updates’ Category

Is Your Life “Aligned?” Homily: 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time

What was the issue with the “lazy servant” in today’s Gospel readingThe Homily Pack from ePriest gives us some insights.

First of all, the parable is not  about hard, mean bosses getting rich. God, (“the master”) was angry because of the servant’s lack of love for his neighbor. The Lord gives us gifts and talents.  God’s expects us to use them to “enrich” people around us. If there is chaos in the local school a family, the church, an organization – people are getting angry and frustrated,  and you have the “talents” of “administrate” and envisioning,  God is calling you to put those gifts at the service of others, improve the situation and enrich their lives.  If you sit on your gifts, that provokes God’s ire.

Second, some people have a false sense of God. “The Master.” Some look around and see others who seem to have more money, more gifts, more talent, more opportunities.   God knows you because he created you and thus also knows what you can handle – and what you can’t. He provides exactly the right assignment for your talent bucket.  Others are more fearful of God. They’re afraid that they’ll do something wrong or people will criticize them or that they’ fail or that the assignment will be too hard. God is not to be  feared like a slave owner. Jesus is not a harsh and unjust master. He asks nothing of us that he hasn’t done and knows we can’t handle.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read that, “God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability, but when he tests you, he will also bring about the outcome that you are able to bear it.”

The ultimate issue with the lazy servant was that his understanding of God, neighbor and ultimately himself was not “aligned.” Emily Madill is a mom, author and certified professional coach with a BA in Business and Psychology. She provides three questions that we can ask to help us better align ourselves with a correct understanding about ourselves, God and others.                          

1  –  Who Am I? This is the first – and a most important – question. It actually is addressed in the first five questions of the good, old Baltimore Catechism. Must be important then. So how do we answer that question? Start naming your many roles – I am a mom or dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, teacher, etc. Add profession, career, education. Consider hobbies, talents, things we like to do, things we do well. But this still isn’t who you are. We need to look underneath the question – to get to the heart of it. Madill calls this “naming your essence.“ It is the answer to the questions – “Who am I? Why did God make me? Why did God make me this way?”

When are you getting close to knowing that you have the answer? By the feeling you receive when you are deeply connected to your truth. It might feel like love, or peace or joy or contentment or excitement – whatever word feels right to you. You’ll know. You’ll be able to point to it and say, “That! That’s who I am.”

2 – How do I want to feel? If we don’t know how we want to feel, we become hyper-focused that we don’t feel great and why we don’t feel great. This is how Satan can distract us and take us away from moving to a place where we know the truth about ourselves, what we are to do and thus experience the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (peace, joy, love, patience etc…) that God wants us to have. So ask yourself: “How do I want to feel?” Continue inquiring with questions like, “What makes me happy? What do I want (THAT one is a biggie!)? What essence do I want more of in my life?”

3 – Am I in alignment?  Does who I am and how I want to feel – mirror how I’m being, and what I’m doing, now? If the answer is yes, then talk to God about that. Go deeper. See what other insights He gives you. If the answer is no, what is off? Think of your true essence. Think of your desired feelings. How well are they in sync with your interactions with people around you and the roles you perform? Where do changes need to be made? Emile Zola was a French novelist, playwright, journalist who was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902. He was once quoted as saying, If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” We honor God by following through with what we know is true about us. This is how God made you. We need to align our essence – who God made us – who we really are – with what we do. Only with this type of alignment will we realize a sense of happiness and peace.

4 – Where Do I Go From Here? This idea comes from Father Michael Gaitley, MIC on page 176 of his book, The One Thing Is Three.  Father Gaitley says that”Witness Draws Faith.” If you are aligned, even in the midst of a life that seems to be going south, people will notice that. People who are not aligned will witness the peace and joy and sense of purpose, in the midst of suffering, and wonder “What is she doing right? What does she have? Why don’t I have that? Why can’t I get that?” This puts you in a position to have what is known as a “threshold conversation” – that initial, very natural conversation about you, about them, about your journey, about God and God’s purpose for them.

This is where you put your passion at the service of others. Christ left us his new commandment – to love one another as he has loved us. And he showed us what love really is: to give our lives for others. We give our lives by putting our talents at the service of those around us, by being creative and being courageous.  That is being like Christ!


  1. Identify one person. Who is a leader in your Church, company, neighborhood whose life really seems “aligned.” Who is that person whom you have observed taking risks for growth? Just identify them as a first step (Talk to them as a second step).
  2. Identify your talent. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing that is easy, fun, gives you life and seems to elicit positive comments and compliments from others when you do it? A biblical list of these gifts is here.  In her “Spiritual Gifts Inventory,” Sherry Widdel from Catherine of Siena Institute provides a similar list here.
  3. Advanced Homework – Your gifts were not given to you for yourself alone.In his General Audience of Wednesday, 24 April 2013, Pope Francis said: “Have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought of how you can put them at the service of others? Set your stakes on great ideals, the ideals that enlarge the heart.  The ideals of service make your talents fruitful. Do not be afraid to dream of great things!” So, based on what the Holy Father said, consider what this talent of yours could accomplish, incredible things, if you were to exercise it with full power, knowing you absolutely could – not – fail.


Audio version of the homily is here:

Discernment – What Is Your Mission? (Part 4)

What Is Your Mission? More ideas.

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Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

You can't help others until and unless you take care of yourself.

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Discernment: What is your Mission? (Part 3)

Did you know there are three types of vocations? It's not what you think and you actually participate in all three!

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Sacrament Saturday Presentation (St. Monica, November 2017)

Presentation slides as well as Q&A notes-on-the-board from 2017 St. Monica “Sacrament Saturday”

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Tassels, Tip-Offs and Trader Joe’s. Homily for 31st Sunday Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus talks about phylacteries and tassels. What exactly are they?

Phylacteries (or Tefillin) meaning “to guard, protect,” are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. They are worn by male observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. They contained 4 parchments with 4 Scripture readings, namely Exodus 13:1–10, Exodus 13:11–16, Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (See specific passages below)

Tassels  (or Tzitzit) are specially knotted ritual fringes, worn in antiquity by Israelites and today by observant Jews attached to the four Tefillincorners of the tallit (prayer shawl) and tallit katan (everyday undergarment).


The Scripture passages located in the phylacteries were physically located near to the believer (on their forehead and arm and pointing towards the heart) so that the Word would be the foundation for a particular type of physical behavior. This behavior, in turn was to be physically seen by others, thus identifying the believer a a follower of God so that they would be a witness as to what God’s children looked like and acted like. When you happened to notice theTzitzit tassels, it was to function as a personal reminder what you were and whose you were, again sop that your actions would be seen by others and they would admire and give glory to the god you worshipped. Thus, the tassels (and phylacteries) were supposed to be “the tip off towards tip top behavior.”  This is what irked Jesus. The religious leaders keep focusing on, and emphasizing the symbols but ironically, their behavior is deplorable.

In his video “Our IQ tells us how much capacity we have” Bishop T. D. Jakes recalls a conversation he had on the Dr. Phil show. They were talking about IQ or “intelligence quotient” which is the amount of intellectual capacity you possess. The two also were discussing EQ or “emotional quotient.” EQ measures your emotional 41ny8kUhT1L._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_intelligence or your capacity to identify your emotions and the emotions of others, as well as the capacity to manage your emotions and the emotions of others when you’re involved in a particular situation. (See Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves for an explanation and and excellent drills to increase your EI) Finally, Dr. Phil spoke about AQ or “Adaptability Quotient” which measures your capacity to adjust and adapt when situations change.

Why is this important to you?

You have a purpose. God has given you a mission to a person or group of people at this time in a particular place. Nevertheless, when  you begin to try to fulfill that mission, it is guaranteed that you are going to meet with adversity – on account of your own “stuff,” as a result of other people’s “stuff,” from the hand of God, perhaps as part of the work of the devil or the result of Original Sin.


purpose #5

Fear not however. God has also given you capacities to accomplish that mission. God calls you to use the capacities of intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence and adaptability intelligence to handle the situation when challenges arise.

Then Bishop Jakes delivers the punch line –  “A ministry can only function to the level of its perception.” People are watching! They are making judgement as to whether you can handle the situation. And if they perceive that you cannot handle the situation, the mission that was assigned to you by God will fail because “a ministry can only function to the level of its perception.”

This is why  the Pharisees and Sadducees were  ineffective. People were watching them. They suspected that they were frauds and probably went to Jesus and asked, “Should we do what they tell us to do?” What did Jesus say? Absolutely. “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.” Their authority and jurisdiction and power to help in your sanctification has been given by God. You fight them, you are fighting God Himself. “Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you.”

And then Jesus adds, “…but do not follow their example.”

What are your Tassels – and how are they working? What are your phylacteries – how are you utilizing them to achieve your mission? It might be a cross around your neck. It might be a Knight of Columbus pin. It could be the ashes you wear on Ash Wednesday. God will set up the meeting where someone asks you about it. Be ready to say something. As Pope Francis recently tweeted, The Church needs faithful people who proclaim the Gospel with enthusiasm and wisdom, instilling hope and faith. 

Homework – If someone asks you about a religious article you wear or something you mentioned or something that you do, prepare your…

  1. “Elevator Speech” (30 seconds) Tell them that you’re a follower of Christ, that you do that as a Catholic and why that is important to you.
  2. “Trader Joe’s Talk” (5 minutes). Have something to say about your parish, Pope Francis, your faith journey, etc… if the conversation goes longer. At the end invite them to a the “Kaffee Klatch.”
  3. “Kaffee Klatch” a longer, in-depth conversation at breakfast, coffee, cocktail, etc… Pray about this before hand. Let the Holy spirit guide you.

Audio version of the homily is here:












There’s a Jewish folk-tale which runs something like this:

There once was a young man who aspired to great holiness. After some time at working to achieve it, he went to see his Rabbi.

“Rabbi,” he announced, “I think I have achieved sanctity.”

“Why do you think that?” asked the Rabbi.

“Well,” responded the young man, “I’ve been practising virtue and discipline for some time now and I have grown quite proficient at them. From the time the sun rises until it sets, I take no food or water. All day long, I do all l do all kinds of hard work for others and I never expect to be thanked.

“If I have temptations of the flesh, I roll in the snow or in thorn bushes until they go away, and then at night, before bed, I practice the ancient monastic discipline and administer lashes to my bare back. I have disciplined myself so as to become holy.”

The Rabbi was silent for a time. Then he took the young man by the arm and led him to a window and pointed to an old horse which was just being led away by its master.

“I have been observing that horse for some time,” the Rabbi said, “and I’ve noticed that it doesn’t get fed or watered from morning to night. All day long it has to do work for people and it never gets thanked. I often see it rolling around in snow or in bushes, as horses are prone to do, and frequently I see it get whipped.

“But, I ask you: Is that a saint or a horse?”

This is a good parable because it shows how simplistic it is to simply identity sanctity and virtue with self-renunciation and the capacity to do what’s difficult. In popular thought there’s a common spiritual equation: saint=horse. What’s more difficult is always better. But that can be wrong.

To be a saint is to be motivated by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less. Scripture, everywhere and always, makes this point.




Your SPOUSE will see the difference. They will ask you, “When are you going on that retreat again?”

Why do you want to want to continue to drown in the swamp of the world. Why do you remain absolutely

What is consuming your thoughts – that is your prayer! That is the god, at whose altar you are worship.

What really is THE priority in your life. You have a purpose. You are a conduit to God’s grace in the world in November 2017, probably in your neighborhood. That’s called “mission.” Mission is more than spouse – job  – parent – kids activities.

Humility is not admitting that you are weak and need help. Humility is knowing that you are talented, and that you have skills, and you want to hone those skills to become greater and make an impact and make a difference. Better spouse, better parent, better at your place of work, better at what you are doing for your kids.


If you aren’t sure, ask me. If you need a word, ask me.

Small groups. Get a few friends to decide to treat and support each other and pull/push each other to do this. Try it once. See if it works. If not, then you’re off the hook. Is so, do it again and bring someone else into the group

Take a vacation. You will only realize afterwards how badly you needed this.

It’s not just spiritual. It’s physical. It’s emotional/ psychological therapeutic. You are distracted. Whatever distraction is not sufficient, Satan will provide the rest. The devil will do everything to distract you by presenting  subtitle, noble, reasonable

Jesus is the King of Kings but Satan is the prince of the world. A retreat takes you away from Satan’s world – if only for a brief moment.


The priests in this reading neglected their duty and are responsible for the erosion of faith among the people. In general what do you think are some contemporary issues that erode people’s faith? In particular what erodes your faith? What increases your faith?


We all struggle to align what we do with what we say. What is at stake is not only our own integrity but also the well-being of (others)



Lord I offer you:

My thoughts – to be centered in you,

My words – to speak of you,

My actions – to do your will,

My sufferings – offered up for your sake.


Teach me how how:

Trivial worldly interests are,

Momentous the Kingdom,

Brief temporal concerns are,

Lasting life eternal.


Exodus 13:1–10 – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Sanctify to Me all the first-born, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of animal, it is Mine.’ And Moses said to the people: ‘Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. This day you go forth in the Spring month. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you, in all your borders. And so shall you tell your son on that day, saying: It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign for you upon your hand, and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand has the LORD brought you out of Egypt. You shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

Exodus 13:11–16 — When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanite, as He swore unto you and to your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the LORD all that opens the womb; every firstborn animal shall be the LORD’S. Every firstborn donkey you shall redeem with a sheep, and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and all the first-born of man among your sons shall you redeem. And when your son asks you in time to come, saying: What is this? say to him: By strength of hand the LORD bring us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage; and when Pharaoh found it hard to let us go the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man, and the first-born of animals; therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, and redeem all my first-born sons. And it shall be for a sign upon your hand, and as “totafot” between your eyes; for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9, “The Shema.” Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart; and teach them thoroughly to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the road, and when you lie down, and when you get up. And tie them for a sign upon your hand, and let them be “totafot” between your eyes. And write them on the door-posts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:13–21 – If you listen to My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give the rain of your land in its season, the early and the late rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Take care for yourselves, lest your heart be seduced, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and the anger of the LORD be lit against you, and He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground not yield her fruit; and you be quickly lost from off the good land which the LORD gives you. Put these words of Mine on your heart and on your soul; tie them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be “totafot” between your eyes. Teach them to your children, to speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the road, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. And write them on the door-posts of your house, and upon your gates; so that your days, and those of your children, may be multiplied upon the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of the heavens above the earth.