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Sanctification in Daily Work
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Visiting with Family

ZimmermansAs my wife and I get older we are needing to spend more time with our parents. I’ve talked with a number of friends who are doing the same. In the last month Cindy has been able to spend time with her Mother who wasn’t feeling good. She’s much better now.

Neither of our parents live close to us so it is a long drive in opposite directions. I spent several days with my parents and other family members last weekend. They are pictured here after Sunday Mass.

We’re both finding out what we can and need to do for our parents. They are closing in on 90 and need help with house/yard maintenance, discussing end of life plans and I’ve been surprised that they are asking questions and looking to us to help find answers. Cindy and I are already making plans for our next visits.

On my trip last week I was able to visit my sister who is in assisted living due to several strokes. I had not seen her in more than a year and it just so happened that the week before we got there the facility started allowing people inside to visit. I went with my Mother and other sister. It was a wonderful and emotional time. I believe God answered my prayers that we would have a nice visit and be able to spend some time with her.

There are some challenges to overcome helping my parents like near total loss of hearing on my Dad’s part and just the physical shape they are in. As I’ve heard, “No one said it would be easy, but it would be worth it.”

It is easy to get caught up in my work or my own family which now includes grand children with a new one on the way. But I am making a commitment to help take care of my aging parents however I am able.

Annual Spiritual Retreat

ACTS MissionsIn 2020 I was not able to attend an annual retreat. However, I have had that opportunity this year. I have always gone to annual retreats that are put on by a local Opus Dei center. It is a silent retreat with a priest providing talks for spiritual meditation and daily Mass, Adoration and availability for confession or to talk to the priest in spiritual direction. This year, at the suggestion of spiritual advice, I decided to go on an ACTS Retreat that is managed by St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pensacola, FL. It is a different kind of retreat in that we are able to not only talk to other participants but share thoughts and ideas after talks. We also had the sacraments the same as Opus Dei retreats.

I was somewhat hesitant at first to go on this retreat but felt like my reasons were not sufficient to make that decision. I’m glad I went! There were 14 of us as participants and the team that does all the work and a priest. I didn’t realize how much the ability to meet other men and be able to talk to them on a very personal, level which includes our faith, would mean to me in a very positive way. I now have a big group of men that I know locally and didn’t before and they are available to call anytime and that goes the same for me to them. So, I’m learning more about this ACTS Missions organization that is based out of San Antonio, TX. Some have told me it is like a Cursillo, which I have not participated in. You can find out more and see if your church would be interested in putting on one of these retreats here.

An ACTS Retreat is a parish-based event which offers parishioners an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus Christ. This in turn fosters a desire for intentional discipleship.

ACTS Retreats are given by parishioners for parishioners, and in this way, serve to build Christian community at the parish.

Imitating Christ in our Daily Life

The Imitation of ChristI read “The Imitation of Christ”, by Thomas Kempis, many years ago and remember how much it meant to mean then. IDK why but I picked up this version of the book which I have had for a while and started from the beginning again. Amazingly, it speaks to me even more powerfully than I remember. It’s as if the thoughts and words in this book seem to talk about today, what is happening in the world and in my life.

Even in the forward I highlighted this: “But we forget that we are made up of body and soul and all this hyperactivity leaves no time for the soul to breathe.” The world today seems very frantic with an overwhelming urge to constantly be doing something, anything and at all times. Maybe by meditating on this little book you and I can change and slow down, be patient and enjoy the day and find ways to become more like Christ.

This book can be purchased on Catholic Book Publishing.

Happy Easter

Red Lily“’Christ is alive.’ This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. ‘Do not be terrified’ was how the angels greeted the women who came to the tomb. ‘Do not be terrified. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here.’ ‘This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.’”

St. Josemaria Escriva
Christ is Passing By, no. 102

The Easter Season is one of joy and we need to focus on the fact that Jesus died for our sins, allowing us to be able to join Him when it is our time. This is not easy to do in the world today where we see so much violence, hatred and disrespect of life. However, He provided us with hope that will survive all attempts of the devil to try to overcome us or the world.

“Be Not Afraid” is one of the most common phrases in the bible. It is good to think of it often, especially when feeling anxious, worrying or experiencing a trial that has you frustrated and helpless.

A Holy Week Reflection

Liturgy of the HoursDuring this season of Lent it is especially good to take time for personal examination and to meditate on the life of Jesus and what the coming Easter Triduum means. There are many good guides or prayer books for this time. I’ve been finding meaningful reading in my daily Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning Prayer. This is a quote from yesterday’s Morning Prayer, Antiphon 1, Psalm 43, “Defend me, O God, and plead my cause against a godless nation. From deceitful and cunning men rescue me, O God.”

This immediately hit home with me emotionally. In my life I don’t ever remember seeing so much hatefulness, animosity, anger, lack of faith, and actual direct persecution of Christians. At least in my own country. We have elected leadership that I truly believe are working to tear our society apart and complete the ongoing effort to remove God from our our institutions and people. I find it truly heinous what is being done to children and including those unborn who have been aborted.

So, I have read and re-read more of the Psalm and it not only brings home the reality of what Jesus had to endure on our behalf but also provides hope that we will be saved from these “deceitful and cunning men.”

Time with Grand Babies

Time with Grand BabiesWhen you live in Florida and your grand babies live in Missouri you don’t get to see them very often or for long. Cindy and I used some airline miles to make the trip last week and spent some quality time which included touring Talking Rocks Cavern.

These young ones could care less about what’s happening in the world. They just want to play and ask lots of questions. And for us, we had a few days where we didn’t have to deal with all the things that have been challenging, like our business, staying upbeat, letting go of worry and a lot more.

We think it’s important to stay close to all our family, young and old. It isn’t always easy, especially since our family is scattered around the country. But we’re committed to continuing to find time to visit. And if we can’t be there in-person then we try to make regular phone calls to stay in touch.

Let there be such oneness between you. . .

Let there be such oneness between you that when one weeps the other will taste saltI love this quote. I first saw it in my chiropractor’s office. I don’t know who the author is. I searched but found multiple different results. This one says “Anonymous.”

The quote: “Let there be such oneness between you that when one weeps the other will taste salt.

One of the places I found it was on a list of suggested quotes for the father of the bride at a wedding. This really has a lot of meaning for me. The first time I read it I immediately thought of my wife. I thought about how much I have loved her since I met her in college and I thought of how much I missed her when we were apart. I thought of the many rough spots we’ve had over the years when I would know that she was hurt and especially if she was crying. Having the feeling described here is very powerful and has been a topic of my meditations many times.

I think this can apply to other people and even to other things. A recent example would be what is happening in our country. I love our country and it is weeping through the millions of people who are suffering. I taste that sadness and it is salty. I can provide more examples but I just thought I’d share this quote in the hopes you may like it.

Year of St. Joseph and Prayers That Are Needed

St. Joseph the WorkerWe are well in to the Year of St. Joseph as proclaimed by Pope Francis. I think this is a very special opportunity to find time to meditate on such a marvelous saint about whom we know very little. That may be the case but his “silence” says so much as you can find in the writings of many theologians. There are also many St. Joseph prayers you can find that may have special meaning to you.

I decided to spend more time in prayer to this saint and just to ask for his strength, wisdom and patience as the craziness of what is going on in our world has not let up and I’m afraid we’re going to see much more of it. We need St. Joseph’s help to overcome the problems so many people are facing, especially in trying to keep their faith and to remain calm.

One of the prayers I’m using for the first time is the Seven Sundays Devotion to St. Joseph. This coming Sunday will be #5.

I keep this mini icon of St. Joseph the Worker on my desk as a constant reminder to think about him and perhaps utter a short prayer. When I am having trouble figuring out what to do with my business and my work I turn to St. Joseph and think about what his days and years taking care of Jesus and Mary might have been like and how he handled his business and work. He made it through some very tough times too.

I like this excerpt about St. Joseph: “He protects those who revere him and accompanies them on their journey through this life — just as he protected and accompanied Jesus when he was growing up. As you get to know him, you discover that the holy patriarch is also a master of the interior life — for he teaches us to know Jesus and share our life with him, and to realize that we are part of God’s family. St Joseph can teach us these lessons, because he is an ordinary man, a family man, a worker who earned his living by manual labour — all of which has great significance and is a source of happiness for us.”

St. Josemaria Escriva
Christ is Passing By, no. 39

Prayer for Peace During Times of Civil Unrest

Daily Roman MissalOur crazy world just keeps showing more crazy. After the horrible event last week in our nation’s capitol and the aftermath which is still going on (arrests, blame, decisions which will further erode our freedoms by many companies and individuals and more) we need to pray even more.

Here’s a prayer that I like. Our Bishop William A Wack, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee said it during his FB Live video last week while he was on retreat.

O God, who arrange all things according to a wonderful design,
graciously receive the prayers
we pour out to you for our country (state),
that, through the wisdom of its leaders and the integrity of
its citizens,
harmony and justice may be assured
and lasting prosperity come with peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Roman Missal III
I found it in my Daily Roman Missal on page, 2126, For Civil Needs

Finding Peace in this Pandemic World of Fear

Preparation for Total ConsecrationI think this is my original book, “Preparation for Total Consecration” according to St. Louis de Montfort. It has been an annual companion for many years. I often sat in my deer blind in Missouri reading and saying my daily prayer because the season there was always scheduled right after I had started this incredible set of prayers. You can find the new version at Montfort Publications here.

I’m not bringing this up just to say you should try this spiritual exercise. Although I certainly recommend it. Rather I bring it up because I know so many people who are in depression and filled with anxiety and fear because of COVID-19. I see it in their social media writings and hear it in phone conversations and even Zoom meetings. I understand and I firmly believe this is a great tool to battle these negative feelings right now.

Even before the pandemic I have been struggling with frequent bouts of all the above. My wife and I have our own business that for many years has thrived on traveling to industry events throughout the year and around the world. That all ended in March and now we’re getting announcements of events going virtual only or completely cancelled all the way out to June, 2021.

With the agriculture industry already facing tough economic times before this year and then not even being able to travel, we have struggled and I have felt helpless at times. But I started re-dedicating myself to saying my morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours and I’m getting ready to add evening prayer back now. This brings me a lot of calm each morning. And then I started this annual consecration prayer and I have felt much more peaceful. Time and again this year my little business has found new types of work and new clients to work for. You might call it miraculous.

Besides these spiritual exercises I mention I have also payed more attention to the writings of various saints in them as well as daily reading a little bit of the New Testament. This has been a huge help in better understanding my faith in Jesus and acknowledging Him as my Lord and Savior. Somehow, the negative thoughts are much fewer and I’m even sleeping better. Of course there are other devotions that have played a big part in my ability to overcome fear that can paralyze you from thinking clearly and doing nothing. These include spending a weekly holy hour with the Blessed Sacrament and in my case, contributing to Sunday Mass by live streaming it on Facebook for our church and saying my rosary every day regardless of the time of day or night.

I will close by just saying that God loves you. Focus on that when you can. Maybe 5-10 minutes a day. Reach out to people you know just to chat with them. You’ll both feel better for it.

Blessed Michael McGivney

Beatification of Fr. Michael J. McGivneyThis weekend the Beatification Mass was held for Fr. Michael J. McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. I was able to watch part of the live stream.

Father McGivney was known as the apostle to the young, protector of Christian family life as well as founder of the Knights of Columbus. He lived in a time that most Americans don’t even know about since I doubt much of it is taught in schools anymore. Catholic immigrants faced prejudice, social exclusion, and financial and social disadvantages. You probably don’t know that he died at an early age of 38 years from pneumonia during a pandemic which there is recent evidence was caused by a coronavirus.

The Knights three main principles are Charity, Unity and Fraternity. I am very happy to have been asked to become a member many years ago. We do many good works throughout the world today.

It is certainly a time of joy for the Catholic Church to have this newly beatified man honored in such a way.

Morning Prayer Buddy

Prayer BuddyUntil March of this year I have traveled extensively for my work and business. But that all changed and other than family visits and a couple trips to my hunting club camp, I have only spent two days on the road for work. So, it has made for a much more regular home (office) schedule. One of those is my first cup of coffee with the Liturgy of the Hours and my little Maltese, Croix, by my side.

It is a very relaxing and quiet time to say my morning prayers and spend at least a few minutes in contemplation of the readings as well as examining my conscience. The changes to my business and ever changing rules about what we can and can’t do have made it difficult to concentrate at times. The uncertainty of what will happen next is very disconcerting. This time of prayer helps me collect my thoughts and make a plan for the day.

Still Live Streaming from the Basilica

Oboe String QuartetWay back in March when I started helping my parish, Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, by live streaming Mass on the church Facebook page I had no idea I would still be doing this today and with no end in sight. But I am not complaining. I consider it an honor to use a skill I have for this reason.

Besides Mass I also recently live streamed a very good oboe string quartet that performed on the altar in the church. It was a beautiful hour of music in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. You can watch it here.

I have to add to this post how grateful I am for my faith, family and friends plus all the wonderful people who have provided my company with work during this very stressful time. Business has looked very bleak at times and then we have received a project to work on. It has seemed miraculous in light of the status of the agribusiness sector we work in.

For now I want to focus on being calm and patient. There is so much trouble in our society and country right now that it is easy to lose focus on what is important. I do pray for an end to abortion, violence, hatred, rioting and persecution.

Good News in a Crazy World

Basilica of St. Michael the ArchangelThere is so much for us to be anxious, fearful, depressed about that I’m trying to narrow my focus to what is really important and what eliminates these things. The most famous saying of Pope St. John Paul II is “Be not afraid.” His motto – Totus Tuus (Totally yours). These are powerful points for meditation and living, so necessary in a world of so much trouble (pandemic, racial strife, lawlessness, persecution).

At Mass this weekend we got to see the renovation work on our sanctuary. For weeks it has been full of scaffolding as the arch, columns and more have been painted. It is not finished and more is being done in the church pew sections. Basically, all areas of the church. We hope to be completed by the end of July.

Sitting in Mass, while live-streaming on our Facebook page, I was struck with how beautiful the work is. At the same time our Rector, Fr. Callipare, talked about the idea of not being afraid. I find it difficult to not become anxious about what is happening in our world and what is happening in my business. I don’t know what the future holds. But what I have found through meditation and prayer is that these things aren’t real in the sense of what is most important. That is our faith and our spiritual life. That’s what’s real! And nothing can keep us from it.

In order to come to this realization and to live it, daily meditation is necessary in my opinion. This means taking 5-10 minutes a couple times per day and shutting out the material world we live in and focusing on our relationship with God. Talking to Him one on one and putting ourselves completely in His hands. It isn’t always easy to do this but like so many things, practice makes perfect!

Mass Can Be Celebrated Publicly Now

Ascension MassIn Florida our Bishops decided to allow public Mass a couple weeks ago. We had our first one last Sunday but I was out of town. On this Ascension Sunday I was once again able to live stream Mass. I had to take this photo to show the renovation in the background. We have a massive project taking place probably through July. The impact of it has reduced the number of pews available for now. Parish members can go online and register for one of the three weekend Masses we have now, one on Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday. We also have a list of rules which include assigned pew seating after registration and other things. It is still “different” in that we can’t gather in a group and talk inside the church for example.

But, for now we can finally go to Mass in our churches. Thank God for that!