A “Vacation/Retreat” — 2015

18 Nov


You are invited to Deacon Henry’s 

14th Retreat Cruise

RCCL Serenade of the Seas

 November 13-23, 2015

Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL with stops at Tortola, BVI … Bassettere, St. Kitts …Roseau, Dominca …St. John … Antigua … Philipsburg, … St. Maarten

Starting at $1,087.00 per person.

You will need a valid passport


Vacations by Annette


Phone 407-971-1971  

Retreat Outline:

Moving into God … How to Live the Faith More Effectively

The retreat will help already committed Catholics to renew an appreciation for their faith. It will also invite participants to reflect on how they embrace the call to grow and live the faith in their own families, communities and the environments of work and play.

Session One: Conversion, Moving from Darkness into Light

                Wonderful and Wounded Humanity

                Finding the Light

                Move into the Heart of God

Session Two: Move into God’s Embrace

                Called into the Community of Faith

                Why Belong to the Church

                The Mass—Perfect Prayer

Session Three: Prayer is Living the Mystery

                The Five ‘Words’ of Mary

                Adventures in Prayer—Getting Personal

Session Four: Move into the Mission of Christ

                Called to Give What You Have Received


(Note: Each session will be held while we are at sea and will run from sixty to ninety minutes. If you wish to prepare, look over the Gospels, the Documents of Vatican II on the Laity and the Liturgy, as well as Pope Paul VI’s “On the Evangelization of Peoples” and Pope Francis’ “Light of Faith.”)

Part 2: Merry Christmas!

12 Nov


Part One was posted Nov. 11, 2014

As the old man says, “It’s where the rubber meets the road.”

The gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior challenges us to live what we say we believe.

It isn’t enough to accept Jesus Christ intellectually or emotionally.

Conversion is Challenge No. 1.

 Without conversion there is no real acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Just what does it mean to be converted to Jesus Christ?

  • Your life changes; you focus on the Lord, thirst for his truth, pray for total conversion, which by the way, is a lifelong effort.
  • You measure all statements and events in the light of Holy Scripture and the authentic teachings of the Church. Truth sheds a light that reveals things as they really are. In faith you will see the extremes of capitalism (it’s all about profit) and of socialism, which would deny private ownership of property and the opportunity to become financially independent. Faith reveals the fallacy of the ill-advised push for same sex-marriages, the totally unacceptable co-habitation of men and women outside of marriage. Faith also will shed divine light on the “political” problems among nations, revealing the moral dimension of those events in our world.
  • Conversion makes you an eager participant in righting the wrongs in society: the oppression of the weak and minorities, the lie that a strong economy alone will make our nation what it should and can be. You will be willing to stand up for justice and other moral values in the midst of public ridicule—and to declare your faith before an increasingly pagan values system in our nation and world.
  • Conversion, continually fortified by God’s Word and the Sacraments of the Church, will help you become that proverbial “city on a mountain” that cannot be hidden (See Mt 5:14-16). You will be able to explain why you believe in Jesus Christ and live in the warmth and strength of his Church.

Courage is Challenge No. 2

We might well be prepared for the future hinted at by current politics and government interference with religious freedom.

One example?

The government is demanding copies of sermons by certain pastors who preach the truth regarding the government’s unconstitutional foray into both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Still another?

Obamacare fights Catholic institutions which refuse to carry abortion coverage in their health package for employees.

Could you not add other challenges to our faith and our Church? Consider how often we are told we can’t speak of God in schools or public meetings; however, it seems the irreligious and anti-religious can spew their disbelief anywhere and anytime with the government’s blessing.

If you can turn your back on these challenges, you may want to ask yourself: Have I really become converted to Christ and his Church?

Part 1: Merry Chrismas!

11 Nov


What? Already?

Yep, already.

It’s easy to think about Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey is slaughtered, cooked and eaten—commercials and movies about Christmas abound on television. And few of those holiday offerings have anything to do with the real meaning of Christmas.

Let’s take a breather.

Why not turn a deaf ear to all the secular holiday music and turn away from the tinsel and glitter of a commercial Christmas. It’s time to refocus on what God offers us in this historical event and eternal reality—the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and his birth of the Virgin Mary.

We find in this mystery both hope and challenge.

The Hope of Incarnation

Today’s world is not all that different from the world at the time of the birth of Jesus: People suffer and nations fight; people experience sadness and despair, joy and sorrow, success and failure.

People seek God or ignore him. God accepts gratitude from those who remember him; he stands ignored by others who think they are the authors of all the good in their lives.

In the ones who seek and embrace truth, an imperishable hope is born in the birth of Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection.

It is the hope echoed in Scripture: “God does not lie” (Nm 23:19, Heb 6:18). He has promised salvation and he never breaks a promise (Jer 32:42 and 33:14; EZ 37:12-14).

The promise of the Messiah comes first to us in a rather veiled reference. God is cursing the serpent (Satan) and tells him that the woman’s offspring will strike the serpent’s head. At the same time, God acknowledges that Satan will continue to strike out at the Messiah and his people: “you will strike at his heel” (See Gn 4:14-15).

So, the Messiah has arrived—a weak and totally dependent Babe, the Son of God, the only begotten Son of the Father. This Babe, and the adult man he is to become, possesses two distinct natures. He is at once totally divine and totally human. He is the One who will teach, heal, admonish–the One who will bring believers together in the Church enlivened and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This is our hope: We share the divine life of God in Jesus who suffered, died, was buried and rose from the dead. We share his divine life in Baptism and in all the Sacraments of the Church, in hearing, believing and living the Holy Scriptures.

But. we find challenge in the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Next: Part 2, Merry Christmas!


A Key to a Fuller Life

27 Oct


I must recognize his power to create and sustain all things…

A very helpful  insight came, over a period of several weeks, as I prayed the psalms and prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours.

I’m bad about underling both in my breviary and my Bible. I also had made marginal notes in both.

In the psalms and prayers of the “Hours” (breviary), on various pages I have underlined two phrases which struck me as important: “a sacrifice of praise” and “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

One day, I put these two together, and saw a little bit better what Jesus did on the Cross. He was indeed “a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”

He was a sacrifice of praise: Jesus, in his humanity, knew and loved God the Father. He knew so well the omnipotence of the Father. Jesus, in his humanity, gave his Father all he could give—even to his death on the Cross.

He was a sacrifice of thanksgiving: At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us Eucharist (a word rooted in the Greek word for thanksgiving). He took bread and wine and changed them into his Body and Blood, offering the eternal gift as food, the gift of salvation which would be fulfilled the next day on the Cross.

Jesus commanded us to follow and to take up our own crosses, to join him in his mission of salvation of all peoples.

So, I must become a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

I must recognize and praise God for his very Being that has no beginning and no end. I must acknowledge his power to create all things and all peoples, including me, and to sustain us all in life. I must see him in all of creation—the blue of a fall sky, the glorious change of colors in forests, the smile of a baby, the wisdom of the aged.

And I must be grateful. After all, if I acknowledge that all the wonders of the world are created and sustained by God, I will want to thank him for his great goodness. I will want to thank him for the gift of Jesus and the salvation he won for us. Also, I must experience deep gratitude for the Church, the Gospel and the Sacraments, especially for the Eucharist, in and through which we experience in real time the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Then, another insight: When I thank God, am I not praising him? Are not praise and gratitude so closely connected that they actually become one movement of the faithful soul?


You Know that You Know

18 Oct

man in praise

You know how it is. You read the same Scriptures over and over again. But one day, you read the same section or verse and a bright light comes on.

It’s a new insight.

When I was first in the Charismatic Renewal Movement, some thirty years ago, there was an expression which celebrated enlightenment or a deeper understanding:

“You know that you know that you know.”

Recently in praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, I enjoyed such a moment. It was during the second mystery, the one which celebrates the Ascension of Jesus into heaven.

I have always known that Jesus ascended to the Father in his complete humanity: body, blood, and soul.

But this time, I realized anew that our redeemed human nature was now eternally present before the Father. Jesus is there, in his humanity as well as in his divinity.

In a real sense, we are there also—because, baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we now become the Body of Christ, we are in him in heaven and here on earth as the Holy Spirit continues to sanctify us and give us wisdom, courage and understanding.

The point is, at least for me, that I must never become too “familiar” and too “comfortable” with traditional prayers.

They never run out of blessings and enlightenment.



The Power of Parish

13 Oct



Embraced by God, Final in Series

 To discover the strength and power of the Church, I had to move from the limited understanding of Church, to its universal dimension. Strangely enough, I discovered this universality, not in my work as a Catholic journalist on the diocesan and national level, but in the “lived-out” Gospel in my parish home.

 It is in the parish we find the meaning of Christian love—in celebrations of friendship, in ministry to the sick, the youth and the people who seek help for mind, body and soul.   

 Before You Know It—Soup!

Angela Logan (Kimberly Elise) in the UP-TV movie, “Apple Mortgage Cake,” was trying to convince her sons of the importance of belonging and working together. The family was about to lose their home, yet she was dedicated to her friends, and spent many hours helping women in need. She was dedicated to her local church.

She told her sons about how important each person is to the welfare of all. She used a down-to-earth comparison. She said that you may not have everything you need to make a soup, but one person may have a carrot, another, a potato and, still another, an onion—“and before you know it, you have soup.”

Jesus knew we would need to belong, to have stability in a community and a steadfast, ever-renewed Church. This Church would offer hope, healing and holiness to all generations.

St. Paul says: Accept one another as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God (Rm 15:7). He urges us to bear one another’s burdens, and to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-3).

Our Own Parish

Our St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Altamonte Springs, Fla., among many others to be sure, is a community that offers healing and hope beyond its parish boundaries.

People here love one another. They show it in their joy at Sunday Mass, at weddings and the birth and baptism of infants and adults. They share sorrow at funerals, support in difficult times and participation in outreach to the less fortunate here at home.

We have a number of men who go to other states to help people whose homes have been damaged by natural disasters, and in Latin and South America where their help is needed. And each year, our parish joins another parish to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

But so much of the love we have in our parish goes unheralded, and rightly so. I am reminded of a dear old widow. She finds great joy in being with everyone at Sunday Mass, to see familiar faces, to hear God’s Word and to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. She loves to remind everyone, “Jesus loves you.”

There are people who have never thought of God or felt inclined to seek him. Then there are others who somehow have always felt drawn to the Divine Mystery.

I am thinking of a woman in our parish who once said, “If you want a great conversion story, don’t look to me. I’ve always known and loved the Lord.”

Then there are the little children who, at times, entertain us with cries or dropped hymnals—and the occasional parent who rushes down the aisle to retrieve a fleeing toddler.

And there are the aged, the lonely, and the mentally and physically challenged.

The wonder and beauty of it all

We all fit in.

We all belong.

We all love one another—in varying degrees of intensity and intimacy.

The Church, and each Catholic parish, was founded by Jesus—for all of us.

Whoever you are, you are called into the embrace of Jesus Christ. You are called to the fullness of God’s love and the fullness of truth.

You are called by Jesus to enter fully into his Church, to become engaged in the love, sacraments, mission, ministry and worship of the Church.

“Seated at the right hand of the Father” and pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his Body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.

             Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Celebration of Christian Mystery,” pg 282.


The Messiah Comes!

9 Oct


Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…

Jn 12:13b

Embraced by God, Part 6

IT IS THE PROPHET ISAIAH WHO SPEAKS so very clearly of the Messiah who was to bring joy to faithful hearts. Isaiah saw in the Messiah someone to be acclaimed as Lord and God—and one who suffers because he is the Savior.

Go up on a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings;

Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!

Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah,

Here is your God!

Is 40:9

    AND AGAIN, the voice of the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, is uttered through Isaiah:

The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue,

That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.

Morning after morning he opens my ears that I may hear;

And I have not rebelled, have not turned back.

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;

My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced;

I have set my face like flint, knowing I shall not be put to shame.

Is 50:4-7


At last, the time has come. The promised Messiah has arrived. He is Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary.

He is introduced to us all by John the Baptist. John is baptizing repentant sinners in the Jordan River. He sees Jesus walking toward him. He announces simply, but forcefully, Jesus’ true identity:

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Jn 1:29

            With John’s proclamation, we enter into the mystery of salvation.

CHRIST CAME TO REDEEM ALL PEOPLE of all generations. We each are called to recognize in Christ our own personal Savior. At the same time, we are called into the new People of God. It is a call to become fully immersed in the Body of Christ, into his Church.

Being in the Church provides what people most need—intimacy with God through Word and Sacrament, and a deeply rooted communion with other believers, a communion ordained by God and reflective of the natural desire to belong, to count, to live with others.

As with the ants in our preceding blog, we need each other, and depend on each other, to achieve success in our lives and mission.

BUT BE PATIENT: When moving into God’s embrace, it is often slow and painstaking growth rather than dramatic conversion.



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