Sanctification in Daily Work
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Visiting the Shroud of Turin

Shroud of TurinI have been very blessed in my work career to have traveled to places that I would never be able to otherwise. A few weeks ago that place was Turin, Italy. With a group of agricultural journalists from around the world we traveled there courtesy of New Holland tractor company.

I had a free afternoon so I took off to visit the Shroud of Turin while it was on public display. You had to pre-register for a specific time with a ticket to visit but there was no cost. I arrived just before a loud thunderstorm hit the area. A long covered walkway is set up for pilgrims to walk through before entering the Cathedral of Turin which is undergoing some major restoration. We were held in groups and watched a short video description of the shroud in comparison to scripture. Then we were allowed to enter and spend a little while in front of the Shroud in prayer. It’s hard to describe the feelings of seeing what seems very likely to be the actual cloth that Jesus was buried in. Let’s just say that I will never forget it.

After the time we had in Turin we traveled to Milan for the current version of the World’s Fair, Expo Milano 2015.

Grand Babies

Grand BabiesLast weekend Cindy and I got to visit our two grandsons, Cruz and new one, Case. Of course we loved seeing our daughter and her husband too.

It’s hard to describe how wonderful it is to hold your grandson and to play with him. Cruz walks and although he talks a lot I have no idea what he’s saying yet. Case eats and sleeps a lot still but he’s got big blue eyes and I could stare at him forever. They are awesome reminders of the miracle of life and we can’t wait for our next opportunity to see them which will be when Case gets baptized!

St. Josemaria Institute Podcast

St. Josemaria Institute PodcastI’ve been meaning to point out the St. Josemaria Institute Podcast. I get an email notification about it and received one this weekend for the latest episode which is a meditation on the Feast of St. Mark. If you would like to know about the life of St. Mark then listen in.

On April 25th we celebrate the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist. St. Mark wrote one of the Gospel accounts and was a companion of St. Paul on his first missionary journey. However, in the Acts of the Apostles, we discover that St. Mark abandoned St. Paul, and that St. Paul would not allow St. Mark to accompany him on his second journey.

In this meditation, Fr. Javier del Castillo explores the interesting dynamic between St. Paul and St. Mark, and what we can learn for our own life.

St. Patrick Unceasingly Thanked God

St. PatrickAfter watching hundreds of photos from friends on social media over the weekend celebrating St. Patrick’s Day I had to wonder if they know anything about St. Patrick. There were parties all about green and drinking. Lots of drinking from the looks of it. And already lots of eating corned beef and cabbage. But is that what the Commemoration Day for this holy man is all about?

Here’s what the Liturgy of the Hours says about St. Patrick:

Saint Patrick was born in Great Britain about the year 385. As a young man he was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland where he had to tend sheep. having escaped from slavery he chose to enter the priesthood, and later, as a bishop, he tirelessly preached the Gospel to the people of Ireland where he converted many to the faith and established the Church. He died in Down in 461.

In his Confession of Saint Patrick he says, “I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who keep me safe through all my trials.”

I don’t know if he ever had a green beer but I could see him enjoying one. His sounds like the kind of spirit that found joy even in suffering and trial. I ask for his prayers as we celebrate him tomorrow!

Extraordinary Year of Mercy Much Needed

Pope FrancisIf there has ever been more of a need for people to show mercy to each other it sure hasn’t happened in my lifetime. At least it seems that way to me. Of course we’re seeing men and women committing atrocities against other men and women in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world but how about right here in the good old U.S.A.?

I don’t even have to look outside Pensacola, FL to see it. There are murders here that just make you shake your head in wonder and they never make national news. But there is plenty of it in the national news from places like Ferguson, MO.

So, I’m thrilled that Pope Francis has announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy:

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, 13 March 2015, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis declared the celebration of an extraordinary Holy year. The Jubilee announcement was made during the homily of the penitential celebration with which he opened the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The papal Bull will be made public on Divine Mercy Sunday, 12 April, the Feast day instituted by St. John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Let us pray that this coming Jubilee Year will be observed with much prayer throughout the world.

2015 Retreat Planned

Roseaire Retreat CenterIt’s official. I’m going on a retreat this year! Last year I never did get one on my calendar. That was the first time in more years than I can remember that I missed going on a retreat. By the end of last year I could “feel” something was missing spiritually. That’s how important an annual retreat can be for your spiritual health and growth.

So, I’ll be attending a Roseaire Retreat and looking forward to seeing their new facilities. They have added a dorm section with more rooms for attendees.

Roseaire Retreat encourages individuals to recognize and foster the unique contribution they make to society when they integrate their faith with their daily work, their family, friendships and social relationships. We offer spiritual retreats, workshops, summer camps and professional workshops to middle school, high school, and college students, as well as young professionals and men and women from all over the country.

The spiritual and doctrinal activities offered at Roseaire Retreat are entrusted to Opus Dei, a personal Prelature of the Catholic Church. Opus Dei helps people turn their work and daily activities into occasions for growing closer to God, serving others and improving society. For more information about Opus Dei, please see

Pope Francis Talks About Agriculture

Pope FrancisPope Francis put agriculture in focus this weekend when he met with a group of managers from the National Confederation of Direct Cultivators. His comments reflected on two main areas, poverty and hunger and protection of the environment. BTW. I love this photo of him from the L’Osservatore Romano.

Here are a few excerpts from his comments

“There is no humanity without the cultivation of the land; there is no good life without the food it produces for the men and women of every continent. Agriculture thus demonstrates its central role”, said Pope Francis this morning, as he received in audience two hundred managers from the National Confederation of Direct Cultivators in the Clementine Hall on the seventh anniversary of its foundation.

The name “direct cultivators”, explained the Pontiff, refers to cultivation, “a typically human and fundamental activity. In agricultural work there is, indeed, acceptance of the precious gift of the land that comes from God, but there is also its development through the equally valuable work of men and women, called to respond boldly and creatively to the mandate forever entrusted to mankind, the cultivation and stewardship of the land”.

This task, which requires time and energy, constitutes “a true vocation. It deserves to be recognised and suitably valued as such, also in concrete political and economic decisions. This means eliminating the obstacles that penalise such a valuable activity and that often make it appear unattractive to new generations, even though statistics show an increase in the number of students in schools and institutes of agriculture, which leads us to foresee and increase in the numbers of those employed in the agricultural sector. At the same time, it is necessary to pay due attention to the removal of land from agricultural use, to make it available for apparently more lucrative purposes”.

Regarding poverty and hunger he said, “Vatican Council II reiterated the common destination of earthly goods, but in reality the dominant economic system excludes many people from their correct use. The absolutism of the rules of the market and a throwaway culture in which waste of food has reached unacceptable proportions, along with other factors, have caused poverty and suffering for many families. Therefore, the system of production and distribution of food needs to be fundamentally re-evaluated. As our grandparents taught us, you do not play with food! Bread forms part of the sacredness of human life, and must not therefore be treated as a mere commodity”.

Then on the subject of the environment he refers to the Bible and the book of Genesis where man is called not only to cultivate the land, but also to take care of it. He also mentioned climate change, which he has done before by saying, “every agriculturalist is well aware of how difficult it has become to cultivate the land in a time of accelerated climate change and increasingly widespread extreme meteorological events. How can we continue to produce good food for the lives of all when climate stability is at risk, when the air, water and the earth itself lose their purity as a result of pollution?”

I’m not sure what information Pope Francis looks at when it comes to climate change but from the words I’ve seen him use he does seem to have a real concern for it and what it means to being able to feed everyone, including the poor. I personally think we have plenty of food to feed the world but have not come up with a system to distribute that food to the people who need it. There are too many political, criminal and other factors in the way right now.

Dr. Carly Zimmerman

Dr. Carly ZimmermanAnother major event for our family in 2014 was the December graduation of our daughter Carly. Carly graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy so she’s now Dr. Carly Zimmerman!

We can’t be more proud of Dr. Carly who not only followed through on the extra years of university but in the field she is most interested in. She also has her first job in Missouri where she wanted to be. How often does that happen?

So, right now Cindy and I are waiting on grandson number two and kind of wondering what else God has in store for us in 2015. We’re working on making some changes in our business and praying that we make good decisions.

Daughter’s Wedding in Cancun

Caitlin and Clint WeddingIn November last year our youngest daughter, Caitlin, got married to Clint Underwood. I’m still getting used to Caitlin Underwood!

Pictured is the priest who performed the Mass and wedding along with Caitlin, Clint and Cruz Baby. They were married in a beautiful chapel on the beach in Cancun. The Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at the Grand Caribe Real was a perfect and unforgettable setting for the wedding.

This was just one of the big events in our family in 2014. But we had another one in December I’ll share next.

Grandson Getting Old

Cruz BabyIt seems like yesterday Cindy and I made the trip to Missouri to see our new born grandson Cruz. His parents Caitlin and Clint and other family members were all there too.

Now Cruz Baby is one year old and Cindy and I are traveling up to see him at his Saturday birthday party. This little boy is showing lots of early signs of needing a modeling contract. What do you think?

Now Caitlin is expecting another boy so we’ll soon have two grandsons and more reasons to do some extra travel!

2015 Retreat Planned

Roseaire RetreatThis year I am planning on a retreat in Delray Beach, FL at Roseaire. 2014 is the first year in longer than I can remember that I did not make a retreat and my body feels it psychologically speaking. The annual retreat accomplishes a number of things that include spending significant personal time just listening to what God is telling you. Especially for someone like me who makes a living off of almost 24/7 internet connected social communication and over the top traveling to conferences it gives me a few days of unplugging the gadgets. I get to examine my conscience more deeply and evaluate my resolutions.

This retreat also helps me to understand how to better balance my work, personal and spiritual life in service to God. Our work should be be a path to holiness if we understand why and how. The talks given by the priest help us to focus on that.

If you’re interested in a Roseaire Retreat then look them up online here.

Pope Francis to Visit United States of America

World Meeting of FamiliesAccording to Vatican Radio Pope Francis has confirmed he will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The Holy Father speaking at the beginning of a Colloquium on Complementarity of Man and Woman happening in Rome which was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The World Meeting of Families takes place September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and has as its theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family fully alive.”

Shroud of Turin

Shroud of TurinI’m back. Back from Turin, Italy this time. This summer has been one of more international travel than normal. I’ve got more to share from trips to France and Scotland later.

Last week I spent three days in and around Turin. I had one afternoon off and spent it with the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist as my destination. After a subway ride and walk along the Via Roma I found the church. This is where the Shroud of Turin is kept. It is inside this container in a side chapel. Next year there will be an open exposition of the Shroud and there may be a possibility I can go.

However, at this visit I was able to sit and pray for a while. I know how controversial this object is but I can’t help but get goosebumps just thinking about it much less being able to be this close to it.

I’m adding this to the list of the blessings I’ve received to have as life experiences along my Path to Holiness. I don’t think I deserve them and I’ve still got a lot of work to do on achieving the holiness that I would like to have!

Here’s where you can find some more photos from my visit that afternoon: Turin Photos

Beatitudes for Daily Examination of Conscience

BeatitudesOne of the most beloved parts of the Bible is the Beatitudes. I highlighted it in mine a long time ago.

Recently I was visiting friends back in Jefferson City, MO. This included one of my friends who is also involved in the work of Opus Dei. The subject of daily examination of conscience came up and in particular what to search your conscience for when you really haven’t committed any mortal sins against the ten commandments. As is often the case, my friend made a brilliant suggestion that I would not have thought of. He suggested using the Beatitudes during daily examination.

So I started doing that. There is a lot of comfort you can take from these words of Jesus and meditating on them in light of your own words, thoughts and actions put them in a whole new context for me. For example, using “Blessed are the merciful . . .” I am asking myself if I’ve been merciful in what I think, say and do. If I have not, then that is a clear case of an opportunity for atonement and to resolve to be more merciful in the future.

What do you think about using the Beatitudes for this purpose? Make sense?

Two Popes Become Saints

Cannonization of PopesIt’s official. We have two new Pope Saints in the Catholic Church. Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. May they please pray for us.

Pope Francis opened his homily during this morning’s Mass speaking of the wounds Jesus suffered on the cross.

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

I could not stay awake to watch the ceremony and Mass but you can find lots of information about it online. Here’s the text of Pope Francis’s homily.