Transform Your World

6 Nov


At eighty-one years of age, I think often of three things: The regrets of my life, the joys I have known, and finally, my death.

The Regrets

I regret my authoritarian attitude with wife and children—my temper and anger, my impatience and self-centeredness, my foolishness in thinking that acting holy made me holy.

It hurts deeply to recall these things—but I do recall them because I must. On the bright side, remembering also reminds me that God was with me and mine. I have learned the power of words and actions. They can caress or hurt, or build up or tear down. My world was beginning to become transformed.

Our good God has healed hurts and strengthened bonds.

The Joys

That’s easy: my God who is all good, just and merciful; my wife, Peg (who is so very good), and our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; my parents and grandparents and all uncles, aunts and cousins; friends who are brothers and sisters in the Lord; the gifts which God has so freely blessed me with the ability to see, listen and think; my Catholic faith, given to me by the Holy Spirit in baptism; my life in the service of the Church which began when I was only twenty-five years old; sunrises and sunsets; rain and wind; birds in the sky and birds pecking away on our feeder. Need I go on? Yes, the very air I breathe and every breath I take and every beat of my heart.

My Death

In my youth, I rarely thought of my own death. There was a sense of immortality—an innate sense that life cannot end.

In middle age, I was shocked to realize that I would, indeed, die. I could not grasp the fact that I, so precious and important, would have to leave the world to its own designs. What could God be thinking?

I finally had to admit that I feared death because I was not ready to die. So, I lied to myself, “I’m not afraid of being dead; I’m just afraid of the process of dying.”

I shared this wisdom with my spiritual director and he asked his proverbial question: “Why?” Why was I afraid of the process of dying?

“Because I can’t control it,” I said through gritted teeth and, suddenly enlightened, my world began to change.

 As time went on, I grew in faith (and I hope, wisdom) and focused on eternal life—on the everlasting life of love, joy and freedom from all worries and pain, an unending life with all my loved ones, in peace and joy.

Now, so many years later, I’m beginning to think of being, first of all, with our God. I relish the mercy God has for me. I rejoice in Jesus Christ and, in him, my life as a son of the Father. The Holy Spirit is a great Comforter; and more, the Holy Spirit teaches leads and guides me.

I have grown in my love for God, my family and, of course, my God-family: everyone who loves and serves the Lord.

Especially, I love and treasure our parish church. Yes, it is the house of God and our Lord dwells there in the Holy Eucharist. But I love and treasure our church because it is home. It is there that I gather with my brothers and sisters, all sons and daughters of the Father, all disciples of the Lord Jesus, all vessels of God’s Holy Spirit, nourished by our Lord and sent out into the world.

And it is in this, the complexity of life embraced in love and trust, that we transform our world—the “world” of our own heart and our own family, and all the peoples of the world so loved by our gracious and holy God.

Don’t Fight Evil

5 Nov


What? not fight all the darkness of evil?

A man in our parish was praying during a Holy Hour.

Let’s call him Joe.

He had begun praying “his beads” earlier. Now, before the Blessed Sacrament, Joe was finishing his Rosary, meditating onhe last two decades of the Sorrowful Mysteries—Jesus Carries his Cross, and Jesus Dies on the Cross. He was praying for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, the victims of ISIS, and for all persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Joe thought, “Lord, what are we to do?”

He was surprised when, in the depths of his being, he heard, “Don’t fight evil…promote good.”

“Don’t fight evil? Promote good? What in the world does that mean?” he thought.

Joe confided in friends, admitting he had no idea what the Lord intended for him.

But, he recalled that our parish honors folks whose lives witness love of God and neighbor; and it promotes involvement in ministries and service to the poor, the ill and the homeless.

“But, what do I do to promote good?” he mused.

Joe said the answer was slow in coming, but at last he realized that loving his family and helping his neighbors and patrolling for Neighborhood Watch were indeed ways in which he personally “promoted good.”

He recalled also the command of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

“A disciple wants to be like Jesus. What does that mean? Two significant traits come to mind: His unconditional love and his obedience to his Father.”[i]


[i] Libersat, Henry, “Catholic and Confident,” Servant Books, 2012, ppr, pg 31.

More? There Is More?

20 Oct


If you are not Catholic, please bear with me for a moment. If you are Catholic, hang in there.

For all of you, I hope this reflection encourages you to “go for more,” ever more in your daily prayer life.

The Resurrection of Christ

I was reflecting on the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. How often I reflected on this great gift and mystery of the God of power and might, the God of eternal love, the God who dies and rises for our sake—and on the great reward waiting for us in our own resurrection from the dead.

But this time, I recalled that “the guards were shaken with fear and became like dead men” (Mt 28:4). Dead folks see nothing and hear nothing. This was a “death” to life and the glory of God.

Then I mused, “How often have I been “dead” before the great and wondrous God? How often have I breezed through ‘prayer’ and felt so holy? How often have I taken God’s saving love for granted?”

Once is once too many times, I realized—but I also knew that I had so often just gone through the motions of prayer. And, missed what God had in store for me.

The Ascension of Jesus

Oh, the wonder of that moment in Christian history—Jesus ascends to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God.

It is a blessing, indeed, to be caught up in that great promising moment—when we, through the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ, are all destined to ascend to the throne of the Father.

Then, in my reflection, I recalled that the angel chided us for standing around looking up to heaven. I recalled the Lord’s last words to us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them everything I have commanded you.”

Oh, my dear Lord, it’s so easy to look at the blessings and ignore the true Way—the way of discipleship in which we feed your hungry people, love the unlovable, embrace those too filthy and alien to embrace, and to forgive even the most unforgiveable.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit

The Christian churches have such great artwork depicting that first Christian Pentecost. It was a historic, life-giving and powerful moment—a moment the never ends because the Spirit of God dwells among us as the Lord and Giver of Life (as we pray in the Nicene Creed).

The Spirit came then—and comes today—to replace confusion with clarity, fear with courage, and indecision with commitment.

The Holy Spirit is a mysterious presence—too often ignored because of ignorance or casual faith. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit who gives the entire Church, and each one of us, the adoption by the Father in Christ Jesus.

Without the Spirit, baptismal water would just be water and the Eucharist would just be bread. Without our divine Holy Spirit, there could be no grace for leaders of his Church, no joy in salvation, no hope in the Word of the Lord.

When we do not surrender to the Holy Spirit, the entire force of Christianity is weakened and faith appears foolish or, at best, fruitless.

I’m sure, Catholic readers, that you recognize these three mysteries: the first three from Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.

I hope this reflection helps you “go for more,” ever more, in your daily prayer life.

Today’s Christian Challenge

11 Oct


“The world’s in a mess.”

“Our country’s in a mess.”

“Democrats seem bent on destroying our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

“Republicans can’t get their act together. They’re just fighting themselves and doing nothing to help us.”

Gloom and doom—that’s what so many people see. And that’s why so many people seem to think that all is lost. They might as well say:

“Our nation cannot recover from its debt and its loss of favor and respect in the world.”


All is not lost—at least, all does not have to be lost. We can recover—as a nation. And we can still return to the religious principles that made our nation strong, those principles born of the dignity of human beings made in the image of God.

I see a number of problems that need our immediate attention.

  • A growing number of people seem to be trying to remake God into their own image. This comes from ‘’cafeteria Catholicism” (or Protestantism and maybe even Judaism)—a tendency to pick and choose what is true and not true. It is born of compromised preaching and teaching of the faith and the fear of alienating “the faithful,” who are not really all that faithful. Part of the problem is ignorance due to compromised preaching and teaching.
  • The onslaught of rapidly developing technology has mesmerized some people to the extent that they seem to have their eyeballs glued to the latest release of the must-have phone that will antiquate all other phones—add to this new and addictive video game.
  • Our government has gone far too far into the pits of confusion and amoral decisions. Political Correctness has become the gospel of distraction, wooing people into a certain mental and spiritual lethargy in which no one can be sure about anything—so anything goes. “What works for you is fine. If it does not work for me, that’s fine, too. We’ll all just go on our merry, unconnected way to a deadly isolation.”
  • Many Catholics and other Christians are afraid to stand, in the public arena, for what they believe. They have embraced a dangerous neutrality that helps the forces of evil. There is no room for neutrality in our relationship with God and Church.

So, what’s the answer and what is the Lord asking of us?

  1. We are to have faith, of course, but a true faith that brings us to peace of mind and heart, inner joy, great trust in God and the strength and courage to stand for what is true and just.
  2. We must be informed about political issues and vote our Christian conscience.
  3. We must strengthen Christian families. Pope Francis, in his visits to Cuba and our own United States, had this to say:“It is in the home that we learn fraternity and solidarity (and) we learn not to be overbearing. It is in the home that we learn to receive, to appreciate life as a blessing and to realize that we need one another to move forward.”

And back in Rome, in an October 7 General Audience, Pope Francis said, “Family spirit” is like “a constitutional charter for the Church. (T)his is how Christianity must appear, and this is how it must be.”

It’s a tough challenge, but let’s try this for starters:

Let our faith be unquestionable, our love life-giving and our hope contagious.

A Clarification

2 Sep

The post of August 31, “And the Lord Said,” was not a personal experience–I did not hear the Lord in a conversation. It was an allegory, a story based on God’s love and the weak and fickle human nature we all share.

However, there is a bit of me in the allegory–the weak and fickle part.

Thanks one and all for your prayers.

Deacon Henry

And the Lord Said…

31 Aug

Heavenly Sun Beams

St. Augustine wrote in his “Confessions:”

“I have tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for more. You have touched me, and I burn for your peace.”

An Allegory

I sat and fumed about the violence and wickedness in the world. I was angry and afraid and I felt hatred for those who created such havoc.

Somehow, at some point, I began to realize that my anger, hatred and fear were part of the problem.

I thought I heard a voice say:

“Do you love as I love? Or is hatred your response to my love for you and for everyone I have created–even for those who do evil and for those whom you have hated?”

Then, I had to admit that utter folly was my self-righteous judgment of others.

“Lord, my God, have mercy on me!”

The comforting whisper came again:

“I love you.” Then:

“I want you to bring my love to others.”

I balked:

“I cannot. I am not wise enough, not learned enough. And besides, I am a sinner.”

Then there was a grave, deep and still silence. I longed to hear God speak to me. So, I began to pray, over and over again:

“Please Lord, help me. Direct me. Save me.”

At last the Lord said:

“It is so easy to help others come to me. Just love them as I love you. Live for them, work for them, die to self for them—and for me.

“As I have so clearly said, the one who keeps his life will lose it; the one who loses his life for my sake will keep it.”

I asked:

“Dear God, How can I share my faith in my own home, with my neighbors?

“They know the real me.

“How can I, a sinner, share your love?”

The Lord of salvation said:

“I love you. I have redeemed you, as well as those who do harm to others.

“You belong right where you are among family, friends and coworkers.

“I am with you. Do not fear and wonder what to say. The Spirit will tell you what to say.”

Once again, in blessed silence, came the Great Truth:

“The Lord God is with me!”

Now, I no longer suffer that lonely silence.

I hear him in the cry of the poor, the groans of the imprisoned, the voices of my wife, children and friends.

I hear him in the Scriptures and the moans of the sick.

I hear him in the gurgling laughter of toddlers.

Now, I know:

“Where I am, he is, and where he is, I am also meant to be.”

Today, I pray with great joy,

“Oh Lord, my God, I do love you!”

The Holy Spirit caresses my heart and soothes my soul.

“Divine Mercy, I trust in you!”

Oh, blessed peace!

The Holy Whisper came again:

“Wonderful, is it not? But you have only tasted the beauty of my love. You will thirst for more. And there is so much more—so much more.”

Just Who Are We?

19 Aug


I mean, as “Church,” just who are we?

Well, indeed, with my fellow parishioners I proclaim we are St. Mary Magdalen Parish (and, we probably think, with “humble pride,” the best of the best parishes).

And you might say the same about your own parish. After all, the local parish is where we Catholics learn about and celebrate our salvation won for us by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

However, I cannot stop there; nor can I stop with the fact that here in Central Florida we belong to the Diocese of Orlando.

“There has to be more,” silently urges the soul.

St. Paul writes that God the Father “has put all things under Christ’s feet and made him, thus exalted, head of the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts” (Eph 1:22).[i]

This verse from Ephesians stopped me one morning as I prayed The Liturgy of the Hours. I sensed a deep peace—and, yes, joy—as I reflected on “the Church, which is his body the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts.”

That’s who we are—the fullness of Christ. For “in him, and with him and through him”[ii] we become the living Gospel. Each of us is called to be a tabernacle of his Real Presence in the world and in God’s entire creation.

In Christ, all things are “under our feet,” for we are the “body of Christ, the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts.”

So great an honor, is it not? To be Christ to the world, to reflect the divine light of God in the darkness of fear, despair, unbelief, hopelessness and indifference.

Honor? Yes. But remember, we are his disciples and that’s the only way we share in his mission and glory.

If we are to share his honor and the glory, we have to do what Jesus the Christ tells us:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’” Jn 16:24-25).[iii]

 And here’s where the rubber meets the road.


[i] NAB, copyright 1970, 1973, 1975, international Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., taken from The Liturgy of the Hours, Book IV, p. 1519.

[ii] From the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.

[iii] NAB, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1970.





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