Fr. Mike's Homily Blog


TO BE NOTICED

October 23, 2021
This week I was presiding at mass at one of our senior living residences and, by the way, you should be aware of how generously the members of our community serve those places through regular visiting, leading prayer services, and offering communion to people who can’t ...

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WILL WE FOLLOW?

October 16, 2021
The desire to be a “follower of Jesus” is obviously a good and noble thing, presumably none of us would be here now if we were not interested in being his followers. But do we fully understand what that means?  What that demands? To follow this man is a great...

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WHO MAKES US HAPPY?

October 09, 2021
How often does it occur to us that our God wishes for us to be happy?  Not in the sense of being giddy or amused, but in the sense of being enduringly confident that we are loved and we are safe from everything that seems to threaten us most; disease, loneliness, povert...

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LAW AND LAWYERS

October 02, 2021
I’ve mentioned here before that I come from a family of lawyers.  My father was an excellent and honorable lawyer, so was his brother, my uncle.  So I’m well aware that is quite possible to be a fine Christian person and at the same time to practice law.&...

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WE ARE BIGGER THAN THIS

September 25, 2021
I spent Wednesday morning at a coffee shop with a few other clergy here in Eden Prairie who are trying to revitalize what once was a pretty active ecumenical ministerial association. For the second time in a row, there were exactly four of us present, even though every clergy ...

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GOD IS SOMETIMES A SURPRISE!

September 18, 2021
It is now football season, and so on the sports pages of the newspaper, we are presented with endless projections about who will be the best of the best.  Eden Prairie High School was, until last night, ranked among the top tier of teams in the state of Minnesota – ...

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IF WE LOVE ENOUGH

September 11, 2021
On this 20th anniversary weekend of the terrors of September 11, 2001, one of the Catholic news outlets re-posted that iconic photograph of Father Mychal Judge, the Franciscan Friar who was chaplain to the New York City Fire Department (NYCFD), and who raced in to the towers a...

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CAN WE HEAR?

September 04, 2021
Last weekend, I was enjoying part of my vacation at a nice hotel in Milwaukee, WI. At 5:00pm Saturday, I turned on my laptop in order to watch the livestream Mass from here at Pax.  As some of you know, the video that day was just fine, but there was no sound.  I was ...

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WHAT WE NEED

August 21, 2021
For about 25 or 30 years, every fall I went off together with 4 of my buddies from high school to a cabin in the deep woods of Northern Wisconsin for a weekend of fun, and food, and boating and disassembling the dock on the lake before winter came on. We did a lot of laughi...

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SIGNS

August 07, 2021
Twice this week, during conversations with people who are grieving over recently deceased family members, I was asked if I believe in signs from beyond the grave. In both cases the question was raised hesitantly, sheepishly, almost with embarrassment.  And in both cases I...

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WHAT IS THIS?

July 31, 2021
The book of Exodus tells us today that one morning in the desert of Exodus the people of Israel awoke to find flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.  And the author tells us that, “On seeing it the Israelites asked one another, ‘What is this?’ for they di...

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WHAT GOOD IS THAT?

July 24, 2021
Andrew said, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” What good are these?  What good are these?  Isn’t that the worst question that a Christian disciple could ask?  I spent this mor...

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FIRST WE MUST KNOW HIM

July 10, 2021
Many years ago there was a film titled “Doubt,” starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who portrayed – respectively – a no-nonsense nun who was principal of an inner city Catholic School, and a young priest who was The Assistant at the parish...

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GOD IS ALIVE

June 26, 2021
I once heard a lecture given by a Catholic Theologian on the topic of what is known as “deep time.”  It’s a study that sits at the intersection of faith and science, about which I know relatively little.  The speaker pointed out that it is common for...

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FAITH BEYOND FEAR

June 19, 2021
In the animal kingdom, the normal response of creatures who are afraid is to try to make themselves look tough or scary.  Snakes hiss and rattle.  Skunks emit a putrid smell.  Lions and tigers roar.  Birds extend their feathers to make them appear larger t...

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THE KINGDOM IS GROWING

June 12, 2021
It is very appropriate that today’s gospel parables from Jesus come to us in the very midst of Cicada season- you know, those bugs/insects that spring up from underground, right on schedule every 17 years.  They live for a few weeks in the tops of the trees, where ...

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ALL IS HOLY

June 05, 2021
Immediately after this mass I am going to drive to Stillwater for a dinner celebration.  I will be quite late in arriving, but my presence was insisted upon, and I’m happy to go – even though it will be about an hour’s drive each way.  This occasion...

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THE TRINITY IN FIVE MINUTES

May 29, 2021
For a few years of my life teaching seminary students, I was assigned to teach the semester-long course on the Trinity of God.  It’s required of priests-to-be. I had several gut reactions to that responsibility – none of them positive.  The first one was...

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NOT MCDONALDS HERE

May 22, 2021
A few days ago I was watching the National evening news on TV and there was a reporter delivering a story from China.  Perhaps it is significant that I don’t even remember what the story was about, because I was fixated on the visual image on the screen.  The ...

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A BIGGER WORLD

May 15, 2021
When I was a student in middle school there were at least two subjects that I was made to study, not because they were required by the school, but because my parents said I had to.  I hated both of the classes, not only because that’s how a middle school student li...

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PROMISES, PROMISES

May 08, 2021
One of my cousins is the business of selling cars.  He’s been doing it for decades now at one of the dealerships along 494. When the time comes for me to look at buying one I usually buy it used as that makes better economic sense to me.  But I’m aware ...

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YOU ARE THE BRANCHES

May 01, 2021
I have an old friend with whom I went to college, who grew up on a farm in Western Minnesota.  And even though he now works as an IT guy at 3M, he’s still got farming “in his blood”.  In fact, he still lives on a small farm about 40 miles from here.&...

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WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GOOD

April 24, 2021
Maybe two of the most over-used words in the English language are the words “good” and “bad”.  Not because they aren’t useful words, but because they are used so often without us giving any thought to what they mean.  And frequently enou...

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GOD IN A CUPCAKE

April 17, 2021
In the parish where I ministered before I came to Pax there was a catholic grade school attached to the church, and that school was the source of a lot of happy traditions for the community. One of these traditions was the observance of children’s birthdays.  It wa...

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WELCOME THE GIFT

April 10, 2021
I’m willing to bet that many or most of us are in possession of at least one gift that was given by a loved one that we never used, either because it’s not a gift that we have much interest in or because we just haven’t found the right occasion yet.  Th...

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EVERYWHERE

April 04, 2021
In the old Baltimore Catechism of the Catholic Church, the one that many older adults may remember memorizing as children, there is a very concise answer given to the question, “Where is God?” The answer is, “God is everywhere.”  That’s a n...

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ON OUR KNEES

April 01, 2021
It’s not possible to wash the feet of another human being without first getting down on your knees.  It requires a physical act of humility and self-sacrifice before such a healing gesture can happen. And yet we come together this evening around this table in th...

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UPENDED

March 29, 2021
Is it possible that this gospel of Jesus’ passion and death is a story that we may have heard too often?  Is it possible that by ingesting these details over and over again throughout the years the events have become a little too domesticated in our ears?  A li...

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WRITTEN ON OUR HEARTS

March 20, 2021
When I was a young child and our family went to visit our grandparents in a fairly small town, my siblings and I would spend a lot of time playing in the little park that was near the house.  At the entrance to the park there was a quaint wooden sign, hand stenciled in ca...

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THE LIGHT BIDS US CHANGE

March 13, 2021
A light shining in darkness can have a whole host of meanings, depending upon one’s relationship to it.  If someone is expecting guests to their home for the evening, a light on at the front door can be a first expression of welcome for the visitors. But if the h...

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HEED THE MARGINS

March 06, 2021
As we are gathered in prayer today, Pope Francis is spending the weekend in Iraq.  That land is the very place where our faith was born. In ancient times it was known as UR of the Chaldeans, and it was the home of Abraham, our father in faith.  It was from there t...

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ADMIRING TOO MUCH

February 27, 2021
In the closing scene from the movie “Ordinary People”, (now 40 years old), there is an intimate exchange on the back porch of a family home in the middle of the night between a father and his teenage son.  The father is devastated because his wife had just ...

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ORA ET LABORA

February 20, 2021
I read a very interesting article this week in a Catholic publication which distinguished between our thinking about how we imagine ourselves to be in this world.  On one hand are those of us who would think of our world as “fallen”, that is in the grip of sin...

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IT'S ABOUT WE, NOT ME

February 13, 2021
The images last weekend from Tampa, after the Super Bowl game had ended, were alarming to me.  Crowds of people gathered together in close proximity in order to party-very few of them wearing masks. It was worse than dangerous.  It was the height of selfishness-and...

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THE RISK OF BELIEF

February 06, 2021
Occasionally, I will tune in to the Weather Channel on TV when something extra-ordinary is happening.  There’s something perverse but compelling about people’s interest in watching natural disasters unfold elsewhere, while sitting in their easy chairs. One ...

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WHAT PROPHESY MEANS

January 30, 2021
There’s a very big difference between being right and being loved-between speaking the truth and shouting a lie (or what is just my opinion.) When we were setting up our weekly parking lot masses at Noon on Sundays here several months ago, we arranged for a very low radi...

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KNOWN AND CALLED

January 23, 2021
When I was asked by the Archbishop, now 27 years ago, to go off to graduate school to get my credentials to teach in the seminary, he told me that I could choose to study anywhere in the world, as long as the place offered the appropriate degrees.  (That would never happ...

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STOP, LOOK, LISTEN

January 16, 2021
How can we come to know what is of absolute, and ultimate, and lasting importance in the world? Who or what is our supreme treasure – worthy of sacrificing every other value? Not just my treasure, but ours – all of us. For many or most of us we discover it by trial...

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Baptism Is About Humility

January 09, 2021
About 5 years ago I was part of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We began our journey in the country of Jordan, just across the River of the same name from the land of Israel. It had been several years since my previous trip there, and during that time there had been some signif...

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GOD IS IN CONTROL

January 02, 2021
Since I was the firstborn child to my parents, I got to spend the first part of my life as the center of the universe in our family home. I have no memory of it, but it must have been a pretty satisfying experience for me. But it lasted for not even 13 months before my next e...

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CHRISTMAS HAS CHANGED US FOREVER

December 24, 2020
The greatest miracle of Christmas is not that God showed himself to us in Jesus. God had already been speaking to us from the time of creation and had been appearing to people for centuries earlier in the form of angels or of holy men and women, right up to the time of Jesus&r...

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ATTEND THE MISFIT

December 19, 2020
The parish where I first served as a newly ordained priest was the Church of the Assumption in Richfield. The building itself was constructed in the early 1950’s (it was the second structure, after the first one had been there for decades but had become too small to acco...

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May Our Hope Be Big

December 12, 2020
So many questions put to John the Baptist in today's gospel of John. Who are you? Are you Elijah? Are you The Prophet? What are you then? Why do you baptize? And it seems that the one question that could have been most natural with which John could ...

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HAVE TO DO SOMETHING

December 05, 2020
Something better is coming, and is coming soon. But that “something” requires something of us! Not just a vaccine from the scientists, or a new public policy strategy. That something better requires a deep conversion of our hearts and behavior. This Advent time is ...

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HE'S COMING...

November 28, 2020
Advent is not the time for Christmas carols, although you’d never know to listen to all the background music in the stores or on the airwaves. Church is just about the last holdout, where Christmas is not rushed in on the day after Thanksgiving. But there’s one fam...

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THANKSGIVING EVERYDAY

November 26, 2020
When I was a child I learned that giving thanks was a transaction – at least in this sense: all gifts received required the sending of a “thank you” card. It was a rule of politeness that I didn’t always welcome because sometimes it felt like a burden, ...

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HOW TO BE A KING

November 21, 2020
In one of the great scenes from the movie “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail,” the legendary King Arthur, who is presented as a buffoon in this film, rides his pretend horse in to a muddy field of medieval peasants who are doing degrading menial labor, ...

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THE GIFTS ARE OPPORTUNITIES

November 14, 2020
I don’t know of many people – especially Christian people – who set out each day to see what sort of sin and evil they can partake in. It’s true that we all sin, but generally not because we want to. We are prone to weakness amid temptations. But I do k...

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THE TIME IS NOW

November 08, 2020
At the moment, I have two different warning lights that appear every time I start up my car.  They both lit up about a month ago. One of them says, “Maintenance required”, which I’ve come to believe means I need an oil change after 5000 miles. The o...

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WHO GETS TO BAT LAST?

October 31, 2020
A friend of mine is fond of quoting an old saying, based upon a metaphor from the world of baseball, which says that “nature always bats last.” The point is that if people persist in behaviors that upend or destroy the good things that this world provides for us, u...

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WHAT'S THE BASE LINE?

October 24, 2020
I went out to dinner on Friday night with a friend. It was the first time in many months that I had eaten indoors at a restaurant, and it wasn’t my idea. And of course, even though I have three or four face masks in my car, the first thing I forgot to do until I arrived ...

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O GOD, MAKE US WISE

October 17, 2020
In the days of Nazi Germany, during World War II and the Jewish Holocaust, which is called the “Shoah” in Hebrew, there were many Gentile Christians in Europe (though sadly not nearly enough) who were sympathetic to the Jews and wanted to shelter them from danger a...

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WHY WE GIVE AND SERVE

October 10, 2020
A few weeks ago I got an invitation in the mail to a wedding. It was for the daughter of an old friend of mine from college. I’ve known her since she was born, though I haven’t seen her in years. That family has lived hundreds of miles away from here for decades, a...

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TO TRUST AS GOD DOES

October 03, 2020
I have never been a parent to a child, so almost all of you here can speak with better authority on this than I can. But I’m aware that, almost from the very start of a child’s life, one of the most important tasks of parenthood is letting go… that is of ent...

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PROMISES, PROMISES

September 26, 2020
The words “I promise” might be the two most treacherous words that people ever say… because anyone can say them – whether they mean them or not. A politician openly promises when he or she is sworn in to office. Some of those words are honest, and some...

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TRUST THE ONE YOU KNOW

September 19, 2020
I’m sure that these young people here today to celebrate First Eucharist are at a time of life when they, are learning about so many things, so fast. But I think there’s no more important lesson to be learned by them, or by the rest of us older people, than the les...

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GOOFUS AND GALLANT MEET REAL LIFE

September 12, 2020
When I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade I used to love reading a magazine that arrived in the mail every month. It was called Highlights for Children, and maybe it’s still around. Every issue of the magazine had stories and games and activities that were focused on readers wh...

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CONFRONTING THE WHOLE STORY

August 29, 2020
Boy, if I were to select bible readings for my Confirmation day they wouldn’t be these! And in more normal times they wouldn’t be. But we are expected to hear the whole story of our Jewish-Christian religion, and not just the “happy-happy” ones. Today&r...

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OH THE WONDERS!

August 22, 2020
When I went college I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to learn theology – the study of God. But I had a hunch – maybe. And because I attended a Catholic university, I was required to take at least three courses in theology in order to graduate. Eventually I ...

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GOD IS FOR ALL

August 16, 2020
Today’s readings put me in mind of a story that one of my sisters remembers from the time that we were young children. She appeared before our father one day, who, I believe, was reading the newspaper in his Easy chair, and she was upset. Our Dad was both wise and humoro...

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LIFE IS FRAGILE

August 09, 2020
When I was in the seminary, I had the rare fortune to spend a semester living and studying in the Holy Land – in Jerusalem. One of the courses that we took while we were there was Biblical Archaeology. The professor who taught that course would repeatedly come back to a ...

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ALWAYS HERE WITH COMPASSION

August 02, 2020
I don’t think I’m alone in this, but among the names, email addresses, and phone numbers on my list of electronic contacts are at least a few that stand out – and not in a good way. They belong to people who get in touch only under a certain set of circumstan...

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RECOGNIZING TREASURE

July 26, 2020
When I was a kid, I had at least a couple of collections. First it was baseball trading cards. Maybe you remember the days when kids could pay ten cents at the drug store for a packet of Fleer chewing gum, which was this awful, brittle, pink square of industrial wax – bu...

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FALSE WALLS

July 19, 2020
One of my earliest memories in grade school was the day that our Principal, Sister Mary Rosaline, came on the public address system – infuriated. There had been a terrible infraction committed during recess – at least as she saw it, and she wanted to tell all of us...

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THE POWER OF THE WORD

July 12, 2020
One Summer when I was in the Seminary, I spent 3 months working as a kind of intern at a small parish in southern Colorado. The pastor there, who graciously took me in, was a Benedictine monk from the nearby Abbey in the town of Canyon City. My eyes and ears were wide open ...

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IT’S ONLY A YOKE

July 05, 2020
In modern English, unless we are speaking about breakfast food or bakery items, the word “yolk” is not something we often hear. And it’s spelled differently than the yoke of which we just heard Jesus speak in the gospel. In fact, about the only time I’v...

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ON BEING A CROSS BEARER

June 28, 2020
During “normal” times when our community gathers for worship here inside our Sanctuary, we have a whole team of liturgical ministers to help us pray well: lectors, greeters, acolytes, ministers of the body and blood of Christ, musicians, coordinators, technicians, ...

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HERE’S WHAT CHRISTIAN INITIATION REQUIRES

June 21, 2020
Even though the welcoming of our Catechumens and Candidates today is coming months later then we had wished or expected, and in a way that will look quite a bit different from what we’ve ever seen before, it may be just right that all of us are confronted with these Scri...

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WE’LL NEVER RUN OUT OF GOD

June 14, 2020
As many of us can attest, one of the most stark images of the effects of these difficult months of COVID19 – at least during daily life – has been the shelves inside the grocery store. Even though we’ve had repeated assurances that there is no shortage of foo...

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TO LOVE AS GOD TELLS US

June 07, 2020
I love pizza. And I love summer. And I love my family and friends. And although I just used the same word in those statements—“love”—that word doesn’t mean the same thing in any of them. Pizza provides me with physical satisfaction. Summer p...

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WE NEED GOD’S SPIRIT NOW

May 31, 2020
It was very unnerving to be out on the freeway this morning and to see every few miles an electronic traffic monitoring sign overhead that wasn’t reporting on the road conditions. Instead it simply read, “Curfew in effect 8pm – 6am.” This has been a ver...

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WE’RE NOW THE SACRAMENT

May 26, 2020
A long time ago I spent one mostly delightful year of my ordained life teaching religion to 8th graders at a local Catholic school. It was by far the most exhausting work I’ve ever done, but also one of the very most rewarding. One of the classes I taught was an intro...

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OUR INVITATION INTO HOLY MYSTERY

May 17, 2020
I was always a fairly lousy math student when I was in school and I got some of my worst grades in those classes. I didn’t like it. I don’t know if I wasn’t good at because I disliked it, or that was the other way around. I guess that’s a matter of inte...

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WE STICK TOGETHER

May 10, 2020
I once knew a man a long time ago who was a retired brick layer. That is among the many professions about which I know nothing. This guy had a dry sense of humor, and when he spoke about his work he would tell me, “I never could figure out whether that mortar was intende...

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WHAT IT MEANS TO BELIEVE

May 03, 2020
The late Catholic German Theologian Fr. Johann Baptist Metz once coined a phrase that I have always appreciated. Metz was often critical of what he thought to be the so-called “bourgeois Christianity” that was in place in the mid-20th century Europe, Germany to be ...

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EMMAUS: MAYBE NOT SUCH A GREAT PLACE?

April 26, 2020
Maybe among the most important unasked questions about this very familiar gospel story – this tale of the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus on that first Easter day – the story that we hear every year on the third Sunday of Easter here in church, maybe the most impo...

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YOU ARE FORGIVEN FOR YOUR FEAR

April 19, 2020
I still recall one of my most personally humiliating experiences as a young priest (and there have been a few of them along the way). In fact, I’d call it one of the most humiliating experiences of my life as a professed Christian. And I’d call it more than humilia...

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IT'S OVER

April 12, 2020
First it was Good Friday, the day on which all of this Corona Virus uncertainty and its effects were supposed to be over. The governor told us so last month. Than it was today, Easter, the day on which our economy was going to be back up and running again. The President told ...

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HOLY THURSDAY TRADITIONS

April 09, 2020
Tonight is all about Traditions, and the keeping of holy memories. All of our readings speak of it. The book of Exodus has God commanding to Moses and Aaron that they begin in solemn tradition, and keep it forever. A tradition of gathering as families around a table at home th...

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STAY TOGETHER

April 05, 2020
Every year on Palm Sunday we hear proclaimed the story of the Passion and the death of Jesus. And every year there is something new to be heard and noticed in that long and tragic tale. This year what I have noticed is something that was always there in plain sight, but which ...

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WE'RE NOT STUCK

March 29, 2020
On the Mississippi River, not far from downtown St. Paul, there is a person who has to have one of the most solitary jobs in the world. He or she is the custodian of the Omaha Bridge. The bridge is a low slung railroad trestle that spans across the water. It is more than a cen...

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THIS WE KNOW

March 22, 2020
It’s not hard to resonate this weekend with a gospel story that is all about bewilderment and confusion and disruption of order. That’s where we are today. Think about all the things we knew – or thought we knew – a month or so ago… Things th...

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IT BEGINS WITH THE INVITATION

March 15, 2020
The whole gospel episode begins with an invitation, and continues with more invitations - and they are the most unlikely and strangest kind. Jesus and the woman meet in the most unlikely way. That Jesus should be walking through Samaria in the first place is astounding - it is ho...

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THE DEVIL’S GREATEST TRICK

March 01, 2020
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.” You may remember that iconic quotation from the movie titled “The Usual Suspects” (which, by the way, should never, ever be viewed by children). That line comes at the...

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MORE THAN THE ANIMALS

February 23, 2020
One of my favorite stupid tourist stories came out of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. If there is any one warning that visitors to the park hear over and over again during their visit it is this: “Do not disturb the wildlife.” That is, don’t provoke the...

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EMBRACING THE LAW; ALL OF IT

February 16, 2020
Jesus knew a great deal about law—specifically and especially about the ancient Law of Moses, which governed every facet of Jewish life in his day. But Jesus would have made a lousy lawyer, especially as we 21st Century Americans understand that profession. Because we live ...

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FOLLOWING THE LIGHT

February 11, 2020
(Reported from a previous blog, The Church of Saint Pascal Baylon, 2/5/17) It seems less common to see them today, but you can still see occasional searchlights in the night sky. Most usually they are used to lure people to some sort of festive attraction, like a theater s...

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HELP US TO SEE

February 02, 2020
I spent a few hours this week going through a big box full of old photographs that were recently delivered to me by one of my sisters. The pictures were passed on to us after our parents died, and they depict all kinds of family members from 40 and 60 and 80 years ago. Some o...

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ON IMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR

January 26, 2020
Retailers know very well that there is much money to be made as the result of shoppers’ thoughtless impulses. When I buy gasoline for my car, it is one of the few moments of the week when I am forced to stand around and do nothing in a place where I’d rather not h...

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GETTING TO KNOW YOU

January 19, 2020
Many of you know that we had a big, beautiful, spirit-filled funeral liturgy for Fran Heitzman here on Friday. Many of you know it because you were here for it. We pretty much filled the church with worshippers and with song and prayer and memories. Last week when there was a...

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DO YOU REALLY KNOW US?

January 13, 2020
As you may know every two years the priests of our archdiocese gather for a 3-day assembly that is partly a retreat and partly recreation and partly education. Some of those gatherings go better than others, and I vividly recall the one that was the worst in my time. It was a...

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WHO BELONGS

January 05, 2020
My youngest sister is Korean-born, and she has all the physical appearance of that. She is now well into her 40’s and still has jet black hair and deep brown skin. I am more than a little jealous of her good looks. I have a photograph of her on a shelf in my office, and...

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ATTENTION MUST BE PAID

December 29, 2019
It is one of the great iconic quotes from one of the greatest American stage playes of the 20th century. It is uttered by Linda Loman – wife of Willy Loman – in the drama titled “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller. As many will remember, in the p...

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LIFE IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

December 25, 2019
At the busy intersection of E. Lake Street and Cedar Ave. S. in the middle of Minneapolis there is a plot of land known as the Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. It is the oldest cemetery in the city, dating back to 1853, and it was full to capacity about 90 years ago. It c...

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WHAT’S IN A NAME

December 22, 2019
We may not often think of it, but we all possess great power in our ability to name things, whether they be names that are attached to people, or to things, or to events. It has always been so, and even the bible acknowledges it. At the very beginning, in the creation story o...

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WAITING AND WORKING

December 15, 2019
Anyone who has ever spent an evening watching fireworks on the 4th of July has had to deal with the following question: “Is this the end of the show? Or shall we wait for more?” We arrive with a vague kind of expectation of how long the display is going to last, b...

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WHO’S IN BACK

December 08, 2019
In every church where I’ve ever served there has been something unique about the back row of people at worship. In some parishes it’s where the ushers sit. In other parishes it’s where the disabled people sit. In still other places it’s where those par...

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PAYING ATTENTION

December 01, 2019
We’re still a couple of months away from Groundhog Day, when all eyes will be fixed on Punxsutawney Phil to let us know how long our winter will be, but it might not be a bad question to ask whether animals have the ability to predict the weather. The answer from scienc...

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WE ARE SAVED

November 24, 2019
What do we think we’re talking about, exactly when we speak of “saving” things? Maybe the most frequent way that we use that word is when we’re on the computer. To “save” something means to preserve it intact, to freeze it in time, and in it...

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GOD ALONE IS ETERNAL

November 17, 2019
Many years ago when I was traveling in S. Mexico I had the opportunity to visit a site that the locals there call simply, “Las Ruinas” or “The Ruins.” It is in a place called Palenque, and it is a whole city of ancient Mayan Indian temples and palaces ...

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WHAT OF OUR WORDS?

November 10, 2019
I believe I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the ritual prayers that are prescribed in Catholic sacramental books drive me crazy. For example, two weeks ago our closing prayer at Mass, after communion, begged God that what we “now celebrate in signs” (mean...

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PURSUED, FOUND, LOVED, AND WELCOMED

November 03, 2019
On a late summer morning more the 30 years ago I set out in my car, alone, for a vacation trip to the West. My first destination was to visit a newly-ordained friend of mine in Bismarck, N.D.—about a 7 hour drive. This was back in ancient times when the only form of tec...

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WHO ARE YOU?

October 27, 2019
If I were to pose the question, “Who are you?” What would be your first response? There are actually at least a couple of ways to answer that question, and its rather fascinating to consider the difference between them. Very often the automatic response is not a d...

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TO FOLLOW OUR CALL

October 20, 2019
A good friend of mine from college came to school absolutely convinced that he was called to be a high school math teacher. He majored in math, and in the spring of his senior year he began student teaching in a local Catholic high school. That was 38 years ago, and he’...

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MIRACLES ABOUND

October 13, 2019
Three times in the past two days I have been to visit the homes of parishioners of ours who are dying from cancer. Two of them are younger than I am. And three times I have witnessed a miracle at their home—a miracle that I—and I’m sure many of you—hav...

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WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

October 06, 2019
I have a few neurotic habits in my life, and one of them is called Sudoku. As many on our parish staff will attest, no work day in my office can begin before the daily Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper has been vanquished. And like the crossword puzzles, to which I also attend e...

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EVERY NAME, EVERY STORY

September 29, 2019
Here is the story of Mateo, at least as I briefly got to know him. Mateo is a Roman Catholic deacon, catechist, father of several children, and the de facto leader of a very remote Christian community in the high mountains of extreme southern Mexico, in the state of Chiapas. ...

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WHO WILL BE OUR JUDGE

September 22, 2019
It is they who appear to be last and least in this world who are going to save the rest of us from ourselves. That’s the gospel, as it has always and ever been, but we still work very, very hard to understand it—and to believe it. In the end, it will be the poor w...

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THE GOD EVER SEEKING

September 15, 2019
So I lost my checkbook about four months ago. This was fairly alarming, because there’s a lot of damage that could be done by a criminal who has access to my name, address, and bank account number. I looked in all of the usual places and found nothing. After a few da...

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I AM NOT IN CONTROL—AT LEAST NOT ALWAYS

September 08, 2019
When I am moving around in a car, I am almost always alone—and I am almost always the one who is driving.  I notice that because of the few times when that isn’t the case.  I become aware that I am often very uncomfortable being a passenger in someone el...

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CONSIDER THE FURNITURE

September 01, 2019
The arrangement of the furniture in a room can be a powerful silent statement about who is more important and who is less—at least in their own imagination.  When I was a newly-ordained priest I was serving in a parish not far from here.  We had a permanent dea...

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LET JESUS SURPRISE US

August 18, 2019
Many years ago an author named Stephen Prothero wrote a book titled, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. Prothero is a professor of religion at Boston University, and the book is alternately scholarly, whimsical, and even funny. It attempts to render a h...

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IT’S UP TO US

August 11, 2019
One of the great rewards of travel to foreign lands is that it teaches you so much about what people assume in various human behaviors.  I can think of at least three examples immediately. Many years ago I was on a vacation trip to Scotland, and I and my companion had ...

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WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL

August 04, 2019
One summer when I was in the seminary I lived at a parish in NE Minneapolis with a pastor who was in charge of the Worship Office of the Archdiocese.  Among other things his job meant that he was responsible for organizing and executing funeral Masses when priests died.&n...

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LOVE IS IN THE ORDINARY

July 21, 2019
This past week I attended an excellent performance of the Bob Fosse Musical titled “Pippin” at a local theater.  I enjoy that show mostly for the music, but the story line has something important to communicate also.  The title character, Pippin, is a y...

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IT'S ALL ABOUT MERCY

July 14, 2019
Knowing the right answer is not the same as doing the right thing.  One has to do with theoretical learning.  The other has to do with actual human beings.  And throughout the history of religion—our own as well as others—we have failed miserably to get...

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TRUSTING LIKE THE FARMER

July 07, 2019
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to make a few round trips to Rochester, MN for meetings.  If you know that stretch of Hwy 52 then you are aware of how much verdant farmland there is along the way.  What was so striking this year though is how far behind...

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BE TRUE TO THE ONE TASK

June 30, 2019
I’m sure that the word “multi-task” did not exist 50 years ago in common speech.  For a whole lot of reasons, “multi-tasking” was simply not possible for most people before that.  (I guess the big exception to that would be parenting).&n...

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REVERENCE FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST

June 23, 2019
I’m sure that many of you saw the headline on the front page of yesterday’s Star Tribune, titled, “Migrant Children living in filth at overcrowded facility.”  I’m sorry to bring such depressing and unvarnished news this morning, but here’s...

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GOD WANTS TO PLAY WITH ME

June 16, 2019
I believe in my great grandmother, Martha Burns Byron.  I have visited her grave on several occasions at St. Mary’s Cemetery in south Minneapolis, where she’s been for 80 or 90 years now.  I believe in her as a kind of concept, a name, an article of histo...

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LIVE THE STORY

June 04, 2019
Don’t forget your story.  But don’t be a slave to your story. All of us are here in worship today because of a very specific story.  Some of us are here because this is where our family has been rooted all our lives.  That’s the story. ...

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“I DON’T KNOW” IS OK

May 26, 2019
I attended a funeral on Friday at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church for a man who grew up here at Pax Christi, was a college classmate of mine, was an extraordinary athlete and adventurer in addition to being an excellent family man and human being, and who died suddenly fro...

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IT IS NECESSARY

May 19, 2019
I am often aware that I live one of the most easy Catholic lives of anybody that I know.  And the reason is simple: I spend almost all day, every day, being among people who are, more or less, just like me.  They are people who take faith in God for granted.  ...

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TOO MUCH NOISE

May 12, 2019
I know something like this has happened to you.  Last week I met up with my aunt who is also my godmother, at a coffee shop not far from here.  I hadn’t seen her for a few years, and it was a chance just to catch up and tell life stories and laugh and enjoy a ...

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YOUTH RESTORED

May 05, 2019
Yesterday at the retreat at which our young people were preparing for 1st Eucharist I invited them to figure out how old I am, by telling them how many years it’s been since I received that sacrament for the first time too.  It didn’t take them long to get it e...

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WE FIND CHRIST TOGETHER

April 28, 2019
Most of us, when we hear the word “pilgrimage” in a religious conversation, think of a journey to a particular place—maybe a town like Assisi, or a shrine like Fatima, or an experience like the Camino Real in Spain.  But it wasn’t until I was study...

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GOD IN SPITE OF IT ALL

April 21, 2019
“Then the other disciple also went in, …and he saw and believed.”  Saw what?  Believed what?  A dead body that wasn’t there.  A story of grave robbers having taken him away—a story that wasn’t true.  Fake news&mdash...

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HOLY THURSDAY

April 18, 2019
We have made the gospel of Jesus Christ far too complicated over the course of the years and the centuries.  And the pastors and theologians have been the more significant part of the problem in all that.  I count myself among both.  This evening’s gospel ...

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NOT FOR BABY

April 14, 2019
About 20 years ago I was living and going to school in Cambridge, MA.  Among other things, that city is known for many book stores.  And I used to spend a fair amount of time browsing through them.  I have no idea why, but one day I happened upon a slender volume o...

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TIME FOR A CHECKUP

April 07, 2019
Somewhere over the course of the past decade or so I have entered a phase of life in which I’ve become vaguely aware that I am fearful of going to the doctor’s office for my annual physical.  It’s not because I’m unwell—at least I don’t th...

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WISDOM FOM AMY-JILL LEVINE

March 31, 2019
Amy-Jill Levine is a Jewish Scripture Scholar who has done a great deal of study and writing on New Testament Christian Themes. She is funny and breezy in her style. She teaches at a place called Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, where she describes herself as...

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BEING WITH ‘I AM’

March 24, 2019
I came across a marvelous poem this week in, of all places, the St. John’s University alumni magazine.  It was embedded within an article that was written by a man named Gabriel Flynn whom I do not know.  The article was a tribute to his father, who has been ...

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REMEMBER

March 17, 2019
I presume that most of us are people who pray, at least now and then.  We’re doing so right now, and hopefully that carries over in to a pattern of personal prayer beyond this building—something more personal.  So it may be helpful to pose the question&mdash...

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WHO ARE YOU?

March 11, 2019
There’s been a commercial running on TV for a few years now that I have found kind of weird and mildly irritating.  It’s for a company that will take your DNA sample and test it and then report back to you just exactly who you are.  There are a few diff...

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TWO IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

March 06, 2019
Why do we keep doing this?  Why, year after year, do we keep coming back for ashes, for the remembering, for the recommitment?  Not a one of us is required to be here today, according to the rules of the church (if that is your motivator).  And yet we keep coming.&...

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HOW MIGHT ONE TEACH?

March 03, 2019
I know that many among us here at Pax are teachers of one kind or another. I’ve also known the rewards and challenges of being a full time teacher of religion and theology for about half of my adult life. I don’t think that there could be a more satisfying way to sp...

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MERCY: EVERYWHERE AND ALWAYS

February 24, 2019
This month the archdiocese circulated a draft of a proposed revision of the employee handbook for everyone who works in local Catholic parishes and schools.  It’s basically a policy manual for how people are to conduct themselves in the workplace, not unlike those u...

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DO LIKE SUE

February 17, 2019
I spent yesterday morning at the funeral of an amazing woman.  When I first met Sue at my former parish she had already been living with cancer for more than two years.  She died at 65.  Throughout my six years there the disease kept coming back, and every time it ...

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NEITHER TOO LOW NOR TOO HIGH

February 10, 2019
Mythology is a wonderful way to examine the deep truths of our human existence—and the mystery of it all—through the telling of dramatic stories.  When I was in high school I didn’t believe that life was very mysterious at all, so when I was made to take a ...

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OUR MYSTERIOUS, BIG GOD

February 04, 2019
There is nothing more dreadful than the person who thinks she/he has got religion.  We all spend our lives in the sincere search for holiness and for God, and we are absolutely right to do that, but who is more off-putting than the one who thinks of him/herself as having bee...

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TODAY IS THE DAY

January 28, 2019
This coming week will mark an important milestone for me since becoming pastor here at Pax seven months ago.  I will be observing the 2,000th deleted email on my computer in the office.  And that doesn’t include the phone calls, texts, messages on my cell phone, e...

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OUR EXTRAVAGANT GOD

January 20, 2019
I have hosted some parties in my life—including large ones—but I have never heard of drinking on the scale that the gospel of the John describes.  At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus provides something between 150 and 180 gallons of wine—and this was after ...

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THE RISKS OF BAPTISM

January 13, 2019
In the ritual prayers for the baptism of children in the Catholic Church, one of the first questions that is asked of the parents is, “Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”  And their required response is, “We do.” And here I am stea...

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THE STORY IS NOT A MISTAKE

January 06, 2019
King Herod was a crazy man.  By all historical accounts he was mentally unstable, grandiose in his lust for power, ruthless in putting down his enemies—real or perceived—and perpetually paranoid about his grasp on control.  But he was also a Jew.&nb...

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A CHRISTMAS STORY

December 25, 2018
Perhaps the most compelling Christmas story of this past year was one that all of us listened to together last July. And by all together I mean millions of people from every part of the world. It was the story of Tham Luang, and if you don’t remember that tale by name, I&...

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A VOCATION TO BE FAITHFUL

December 23, 2018
Since it’s still Advent and not yet Christmas I think I can get away with sharing a story that is depressing and heartbreaking and sad. So here is goes… A few months ago I was one of a few of the Pax Christi people who participated in a retreat experience at St. Jo...

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LIFE WITH THE SAINTS

December 16, 2018
One of the best parts of being in full-time church ministry is that I regularly get to mingle with Saints.  I know that we’re all Saints in virtue of our baptism, but here I’m thinking of these people who astonish me with their faith, their generosity, their kind...

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GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING NEW

December 09, 2018
And there they all were, and it didn’t matter. Tiberius Caesar was on his throne in Rome. Pontius Pilate was in his palace in Jerusalem. Herod was living lavishly and savagely in his many mansions in Palestine.  The high priests were firmly in control of all thing...

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OUR CALLS ARE IMPORTANT

December 02, 2018
“Your call is very important to us; please stay on the line and you will be helped by our first available representative.” Is there any more irritating sentence in the world to hear than that one?  It’s a pre-recorded robo-voice that you only encounter w...

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CHRIST HOLDS ALL THE ACES

November 25, 2018
Although I am not a tremendously good card player, I have played enough to know that the value of what you are holding in your hand depends entirely on which game you are playing.  The very same cards can mean something completely different in various situations. There ar...

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AN ASTONISHING HOPE

November 18, 2018
My Grandma Byron died 30 years ago today.  I remember it as a sad day, but not too much.  She was almost 90 years old and had been suffering from the effects of dementia for about a decade.  She had long since lost her ability to speak coherently, or to recognize a...

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WHAT WILL YOU GIVE?

November 11, 2018
Like many of you, I’m sure, I do most of my charitable giving for the year during the last weeks of December, to be sure I get a tax advantage.  Let’s think about that for a moment:  When I give is in part conditioned by what I stand to benefit from. That...

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WE REMEMBER EACH NAME

November 04, 2018
On the day of my Father’s funeral several years ago, among the many who came to the liturgy was Archbishop Flynn, who had known and befriended my parents.  I was the presider and the preacher that day, but he asked before Mass if he could say a few words to the people ...

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AREN’T OUR SAINTS JUST THE BEST?!

October 28, 2018
I think the very best thing about “my job” is the endless parade of holy, inspiring people whom I have the honor to meet and to serve all the time.  One of them is named Mary and she lives in Bloomington.  She turns 95 years old this month, and I first met h...

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HOW GREAT ARE YOU READY TO BE?

October 21, 2018
People of a certain age—like me—will recognize to whom the title “The Greatest” once referred in American popular culture.  He used that description to speak about himself: “I’m the greatest.”  It was the world heavyweight champ...

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ON BEING KNOWN…

October 14, 2018
When I was a student at St. John’s University 40 years ago, every fall as part of the football homecoming weekend celebrations the students put on a campus-wide talent show.  It drew a large crowd and it featured all kinds of acts, whether vocal, or instrumental or mag...

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JESUS WILL BE JUST FINE

September 30, 2018
One of my enduringly favorite quotes during the time of my graduate studies came off the cuff one day in class from the professor, who was a well-known Jesuit priest and scholar and writer on the liturgical life of the church.  I no longer remember the conversation that set ...

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CAN YOU ASK THE QUESTION?

September 23, 2018
“…and they were afraid to question him…and they were afraid to question him.” These are the disciples with their beloved friend and teacher, Jesus.  Why—or about what—would they be afraid to question him?  What is too scary to ...

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FOR LOVE OF A LOSING TEAM

September 16, 2018
In the parish from which I recently came, one of the most prominent, faithful, generous and good families was headed by a man whose career is in marketing and sales for the MN Twins.  So I always had to be careful about making disparaging remarks about the team while in chur...

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WHAT KIND OF NEWS?

September 09, 2018
We live in an age, of course, in which the category of “fake news” is recently and frequently invoked by people who aren’t happy with what the content of the news actually is.  The idea is that if you can only discredit the bearer of the news, then the news...

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SUMMONED TO BE AS BIG AS GOD

September 02, 2018
What do you notice?  And what do you question?  Aren’t these two of the most revealing things that can be asked of ourselves, and others?  This past week I was traveling to the funeral of a friend and I stayed in a fairly high-end hotel, just because I felt l...

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WE WILL REMAIN, LORD…EVEN NOW

August 26, 2018
This coming week I will be traveling to Montana for the funeral liturgy of my oldest, closest friend.  Matt and I met in the 1st grade in our Catholic school, and for more than 50 years we have been right there for one another—a rare, precious gift.  We vacationed...

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FLESH AND BLOOD! REALLY?

August 19, 2018
What do homemade chocolate chip cookies and a bucket of KFC original recipe chicken have in common?  Other than the fact that they are two of the most delicious and unhealthy foods that one could eat…. I’ll spare you the suspense.  The answer is that the...

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THE FOOD IS JUST THE BEGINNING

August 05, 2018
On Friday morning we celebrated the funeral Mass here for Jean Cullen, age 90, who was a long-time part of the Friendship Village community.  During the preparation process for that liturgy the children gathered together to speak about her life.  They were so sorrowful,...

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IT’S ABOUT GOD, NOT THE GUIDE

July 22, 2018
When I was in high school I was turned on to a roving Christian evangelist named Bill Gothard, who was at the time traveling around the country with his multiple-day seminar called Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts.  The leader of the bible study group at my Catholic parish...

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LET US CONSIDER THE ALBATROSS

July 14, 2018
If you ever have occasion to stop in my office here at church you will see one of the most ambiguous of my possessions.  I have been much more aware of it this month because I have had to move it from St. Paul to Eden Prairie…together with everything else I own. ...

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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MISSION

July 08, 2018
“A prophet is not without honor, except in his native place.”  If Jesus’ words are true, then this weekend should pretty much be my high water mark among you here at Pax.  Most of you don’t know me, and I am presuming to stand here before you as ...

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Pax Christi Catholic Community

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Eden Prairie, MN 55347

952-941-3150

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