Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You are more

Tenth Avenue North in their new album "The Light Meets the Dark" released a song titled "You are More."
You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done,
But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

All through life we learn by trial, success and error. Life is full of high points full of happiness and joy, but also has its share of the low points filled with regret, shame, and sorrow.

Several men we have met thus far in our door-to-door journeys are war veterans. Gentlemen usually higher up in age, married, and when we ask them if they attend mass/church anywhere their response is:
"I quit going to church, I don't feel I can go back because of what I've done."
usually when that phrase passes through their lips they also lower their eyes, looking away as the memories of past shame are recollected to them. And even with encouraging invitation that the Lord is always merciful and waiting, their pain is still present.

As humans we live in the world in and through experiencing through our senses, the input of data and stimuli is taken in through the senses and recorded into our memory, stronger than any computer. And even though our bodies heal, there are still scars, still the memories that may fade and become lighter with the passing of time but never seem to go away. Even Christ maintained his wounds after His resurrection. The apostles were astounded that He had truly lived in what He was preaching, that He was dead and now He is alive through the power of God. They knew where He had been, what He had done, but they now see the power of the resurrection, the saving power of God over death. And of course we all know the story of "doubting Thomas" who had to even touch the wounds the Lord had suffered to believe that they were real, to have faith that the Lord was telling the truth in who He was.

Our whole lives are full of wounds and pain, things that hurt, things we'll never forget. We feel like slaves to our past because the burden of the chains that we are carrying are too heavy to ignore. Even St. Augustine is quoted begging people to pray for his soul at the time of his death because he knew himself more intimately than anyone else, and the responsibility and power of the actions of his life. Some of the greatest saints before their conversion were considered some of the worst sinners. St. Paul himself was on a mission to persecute the Church before the Lord struck him from his horse.

What then are we do to? Continue being lugubrious? Dwell on our death?
Or do we accept the free gift of life given through Christ?
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
Freedom? yoke of slavery? All we know and are fully able to understand is the weight of our sin.

"For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 2Corinthians5:21.
He came to take our burden and give us His own life? He came to take the death that we deserve so as to give us His life? To become the sacrifice Himself so that we could be the beloved children?
Christ came to say that YOU ARE MORE.

Even to the point of taking our sin, our burdens and saying: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For my yoke
is easy, my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

He took the chains of our sin and gave us His freedom!!!!!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the act and grace of Baptism not only purifies and washes away sin, but also acts so as to make the person a "neophyte" a new creation. CCC1265.

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, HE IS A NEW CREATION; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." 2Corinthians5:16-19

A few years ago I can remember being in the presence of the Lord at an ADORE night, completely engrossed in my own sin. I was not Catholic at the time and had not been to reconciliation as of yet, but it was at this time that the conviction and horror of sin had been revealed to my heart. Misery is not even a sufficient word to describe this time in my life, so sitting in the presence of the Lord I tried my absolute best to be able to give Him my burdens, but the guilt was too heavy. That night there was no music during exposition, so silence fill the room. During those agonizing minutes the MC slowly picked up the microphone and said one phrase:
"I know your sin, I know your shame, do you truly know my forgiveness?"
He placed his microphone down, and those were the only words spoken during that entire time. Words that ring in my ears to this day.

Matthew Kelly, when speaking on the different levels of intimacy, gives some very precise and keen insight to love. There are two levels that either break or make a relationship.
-The first is opinions, the next is Faults/Fears/Failures.
He says these are the downfall or upbuilding because they aren't based on understanding the other, but on acceptance. We as humans can't fully understand until we have experienced, and it is in sharing our faults/fears/failures that we are known. For "to be known is to be loved, and to loved is to be known." For it is in knowing someone, and accepting them as they are, naked and broken, that is where love is given and known.

"Nor do I seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe that I may
understand. For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I
shall not understand."
--St. Anselm

What's so shocking and nearly impossible to understand is:
"God knows what He wants, and he wants what He knows."

"Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." Romans 5:20

This is why "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died
through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of
God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ
abounded for many. . .
Then as one man's trespass led to the condemnation for
all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to
acquittal and life for all men."
Romans 5:15&18

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature. For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness for lawless ness, so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 6:15-23
So then my brothers and sisters:
"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have a peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have obtained access
to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing
the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing
that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character,
character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because
God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who
has been given to us. . .But God shows His love for us
in while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:1-5&8
It is in revealing our faults/fears/failures that Christ is able to come in and heal. When we goto the doctor can he treat and heal what is wrong without us telling or showing him? No, we must be open, show him our wound or tell him what is wrong so he can take care of it. It is in those moments where we feel lowest, feel worst, that Christ lifts us up and gives us the free gift of His love. He wants us, and even after He knows us He still wants us!!!!!!

This is why St Paul wrote "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' I will all the more gladly boast of my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

He isn't saying we should run into the streets and confess our sins to anyone and everyone,
He is saying that GOD WANTS OUR BROKENESS because it is in our being broken
is where we experience love, it is where we are healed. Where God reveals His power.
In our wounds. . .He heals.
In our shame. . .He restores goodness.
When we are lost. . .He finds us.
In our deafness. . .He restores hearing.
In our blindness. . .He restores sight.
When we are in darkness. . .He is light.
In our weakness. . .He gives strength.
In our death. . .He gives life.

It is right in that moment that Christ comes, lifts the yoke from our shoulders and says:
You are more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christ, and the Friar

What does it mean to evangelize? What does it mean to spread the Word? These are all questions that the Christian asks throughout his life. For some all it takes is one monumental moment in their life, for others it could take a lifetime of monumental moments for them to realize the nature of our Christian faith.

A wise priest once told me “fundamental Christianity is taking complacent ideas and turning them into simple deeds.” I think all too many times as we walk or drive we see opportunities to serve or give, and think “that person could use my help” or “there is no sense in this trash being here.” Yet there is that little still voice that beckons “don’t worry, someone else will drive by and help them, you are busy so don’t worry about it.”

And there the momentum stops, the complacent idea remains just what it was in the beginning. The opportunity to serve is passed, lost, and can never be changed. Later on the Christian wonders “what if?”

Into our life walks Friar. During ADORE last week while holding a spot light I noticed it wasn’t a seminarian with the censor going before the monstrance. He was a monk with full garb and rounded shaved hair! It wasn’t too surprising, being that every so often someone traveling through the diocese is invited to come to an event and it is always a blessing to meet them to learn of their life and experience.

After everything was over Paul walked over and said he wanted us to meet someone. Friar is a member of a newly founded religious community known as the Poor Friars and Nuns of the Victory of Jesus and Mary. Born in Australia and then living in Italy he learned of the new order and felt his calling to serve the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. For several years he has been in seminary in Italy, but during his break they have been seeking places to start a new community. Bishop Jacobs was one of a few who responded to their letter of requests, so Friar traveled here to our diocese to begin the process!

We spent an evening with him just talking about life then going to mass. He informed us he was about to return to seminary in Italy and was looking to visit his brothers and sisters in Mexico. We found a flight for him leaving out at 6am on Tuesday. Monday night Darby and I brought him to New Orleans, had amazing conversation, and was even able to pray evening prayer with him responding in Italian!

What is interesting though is that their order is cloistered, and ministers to the poor of the community or travels by hitchhiking, but Friar used every opportunity to remind us that every moment can be a chance to share the Word and evangelize. You can check them out at

Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) gives a bold statement that sounded like a deep bell within my heart, very awakening. He says that

those who have received the Good News and who have been gathered by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and spread it . . .For the Christian community is never closed in upon itself. The intimate life of this community-life of listening to the Word and the apostle’s teaching. . .this life only acquires it’s full meaning when it becomes a witness. Thus it is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole. . . .Such an exhortation seems to us to be of capital importance, for the presentation of the Gospel message is not an optional contribution for the Church. It is the duty incumbent on her by the command of the Lord Jesus, so that people can believe and be saved.”

This makes complete light of James 2:14-26 that faith without works is dead. We receive the Word, and in that receiving we are obligated to share that word.

If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them “go in peace, be warmed and filled” without giving them the things needed for the body what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, it is dead.” James 2:15-17

Works here though many people take out of context and don’t fully understand. Catholics are accused of trying to “earn” their salvation. It isn’t about earning, it’s about being obedient. “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers who will be justified.” Romans 2:13 “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

Obedience to the mandate to evangelize, to share the Gospel, to be a light to others in and through the Christian life is our work. Pope Paul VI’s statement may seem bold, but boldness is what we are called to, it is our duty. Christ was bold, and if we are the body of Christ called to participate in His life (Romans 8:17, Colossians 1:24), then we must be obedient, we must be His body if we are to attain our eternal salvation.

His yoke is easy, His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Obedience to truth is freedom from the slavery of sin and it will bring joy, happiness, and peace into your life. There is so much more that can be spoken about this, but trying to end on a simple note. Friar’s simple life of poverty and service is a reminder of Christ’s life for us. And if we are called to live as the Body of Christ . . .

but there are also many other things which Jesus did, were every one of them to be written, not even the world itself could contain the books to be written.” John 21:25

I guess we better get to work =)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning to be Men

First my apologies for not writing anything sooner. We haven't really been extremely busy, it just always seems there are several distractions that always creep in to deter me from writing. But this morning the quietness beckons me to share.

From the very beginning of our commitment there was talk of personal retreats. Requirements of spiritual readings, retreats to learn about evangelization, and our own simple spiritual formation was all understood from our first meetings. So when Paul told us we were having a kick-off retreat, we thought to ourselves "alright, we'll get away to have a weekend to bond." What he told us next changed the whole outlook. "It's a man retreat" he said, "whole wild at heart style with fishing, guns, and 4-wheelers."

This was great news to my ears. A pet-peeve of mine is when something is called a retreat yet there are all types of sessions and activities. If a retreat is to get away and rest, it ends of not being a retreat because you end up participating in all types of activities, and staying up late having amazing conversations. At least for me anyway, the weekend is great, but I still leave tired and feel that I never really got away from what I was retreating from.

So when we heard it would be just the men at the camp, doing manly things, it was a sweet symphony to my ears. I felt as it we were just getting away, and everything was being taken care of.

My dad has always been enthusiastic about the outdoors. Even when I was two, he would bring home what he had taken from the hunt and show me. So by the time I was four, he was finding ways to bring me up into the deer stand with him. There were times he would even get me to ride piggy back, take ropes and tie me to his back so he could climb forty feet up into the tree to watch for deer.

The next day Paul sent us an email saying if we had guns or fishing poles to bring them. Instantly thoughts ran through my head "I'm the only one in this house that even owns a gun or a fishing pole."

The weekend kicked off with going to Blue Bayou water park! It was a blast and a half. We went down every slide and even rode the two biggest ones twice (definitely exceeding the four person weight limit for the ride). We left straight from the park to drive to Woodville Mississippi! (or as the locals pronouce, Wuvull). Paul knows someone who has a camp out there that they just let us use for our retreat at no cost! Such a blessing. It was more like a semi-mansion in the woods compared to the camp I grew up with.

We aslo had Father Michael from the Diocese of Lafayette joined us for his day off, which was a tremendous grace. Young, knows his stuff, and knew how to start a conversation.

Upon arriving Paul explained some of the ground rules for the camp, the items/equipment which we had access, and explained the 4-wheelers. It never occured to me that the other guys had never driven an ATV before. Scott explained that at Covecrest he was able to opperate a mule, but those are more like a mini jeep.

First night we just chilled, grilled, and had good discussion over dinner just sharing where we were in our spiritual walk and what we hoped to leave with from the trip.

The next day we all slept in a little, but just right up and started moving around to get some breakfast to face the day. After that, we headed out to shoot some skeet.

When we arrived at the back, Paul and Father Michael had already set up and were shooting a few. It was then I realized that the other guys have never even fired a gun. Tony had fired a handgun once, and Scott said he had used a shotgun before.

This threw me back to the first time I shot a gun. I was about eight when my dad bought me my first gun. It was a crack-barrel 4-10 shotgun. It was even too long for me to hold it so he took the butt off of the stock and sawed off a few inches then screwed the butt back on (even though it stuck out about an inch off the botton) so I could hold it. It brought me back to all of the places in my life where my dad took the time to show me something.

At that moment it struck me like a rock to the face. That they have not been initiated in those areas of their lives. Riding an ATV or shooting a gun is almost second nature to me.

In Fathered By God, John Eldredge discusses six stages in a man's life which are crucial to his development as a man. The stages he describes are being the Beloved Son, Cowboy, Warrior, Lover, King, and Sage. A progression that a man goes through in different aspects of living life as a man. The one that I was reminded of is that of the Cowboy. The lone ranger riding around in the desert rescuing the distressed lady from the desperados. Adventure, exploration, new experiences never before received.

But these don't come easy, and can be extremely dangerous when experienced alone. It takes a wiser man, someone who knows the trail to be able to show the way.

"The cowboy heart is wounded, or at least undeveloped, in a young man if he is never allowed to have adventure, and it is wounded if he has no one to take him there. . .A young man's heart is wounded when he has no one to take him into the adventures his soul craves."

This started plucking the strings in my heart about the areas in my life that my parent's never taught me about, and the struggles and emotional scars I have from those experiences. Through trial and error, and of course spiritual hindsight, God showed me where He was in all of those situations.

Humility, now that is a difficult challenge. Humility is exactly where we were all called that weekend. It took a laying aside of my pride to show my brothers how to handle a shotgun (and actually humiliating when there were several times when they shot better than me).

When struggling about my vocation, whether or not to be a husband or an ordained priest, a wise spiritual director shared this. "First" he started, "you are a man. Before you can be a husband you have to be a man, and before you are a priest you have to be a man. So, my suggestion to you, learn how to be a man first, then you can ask God how He wants you to serve."

Exploration and Introspection. You have to first experience something in some way before you can contemplate what it means for you. I guess this is why God created everything but chose us as the object of His affection. So that through all experience the human heart can be able to cerebrate the mystery of God.

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

We all share the common purpose to adore and worship the one true God who apart from Him, we are nothing. CCC2097.

So through this weekend of sharing my own experience, I received some. The reminder to remain humble, truly give thanks to God from whom all blessings flow, and that life continues on with new adventures and experiences just waiting to be stumbled upon.

His peace,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mr. Murphy

Yo peeps,

This is update number one, and story time =)

Last week Scott came to visit us for a couple of days to check out the Houma area, and to actually get a view of what it is like here. So, Darby and I took him around Thibodaux and Houma giving a general tour of churches, restaurants, etc. .

well. . .it came time to go visit St. Joseph Co-cathedral (which we totally pitched that it should be THE Cathedral, and he quite agreed.) ANYWAY =)

while looking around the church we were trying to remain quiet because there was a man sitting and praying, so while we are pointing to different things and explaining to Scott (and marveling ourselves) the man tells us we don't have to be so quiet, we won't bother him.

soooooooo. . .trying to be courteous I went over to introduce myself, we all introduced and discovered that his name was Mr. Murphy. He first asked us if we were Christian, to which we responded yes, and that we are Catholic. Well, Mr. Murphy jumps into a basic catechesis on the difference between general "Christians" and Catholics (which none of us needed, but we listened politely anyway).

Mr. Murphy then went on to explain his ministry, and that he goes around and offers prayers of healing for people who are sick, annointing them with oil and intercesory prayer. He then further "taught us how to pray", prayed with all of us, we prayed over him, and it was all in all a very unique experience.

By the time we really decided to look at the time, we had nearly spent two hours with him while he talked to us. One thing that struck us though, was that almost everything he told us was true and great, until he told us that there won't be bodies in heaven, only spirit.

The question this brought up in my mind was "what validity do his charismatic gifts have, if he is not fully believing sound doctrine?" Granted, no one on this earth can be entirely correct on every situation posed in their life. We are all subject to the subjective experience we have and gain, whether that be right or wrong. St. Thomas Aquinas said "there is nothing that exists in the mind that has first not entered through the senses."

Pope John Paul II states in Man and Woman He Created Them that "for understandable reasons, appeal to experience, because bodily man is perceived by us above all in experience." TOB 4:4

Somewhere along the way, Mr. Murphy had a formation of theology that (at least what we received) was not fully sound with what the church teaches. But yet, he fully believes and makes known his "spiritual gift of healing, and prayer".

I have a hard time dealing with this because (for those who really know me) in the old testament, the prophets, Nabim as they are called, could only be accepted if they spoke entire truth, and actually were considered to be in a state of rapture or bliss! Not many know this! And if they spoke one word that was not true, they were rejected entirely. Think of church mystics who are described as being in a state of rapture, or completely enveloped by God's love. The prophets were the mystics of the Old Testament.

Because of the problems we face with subjectivity in this world, and just being an skeptic, It is hard for me to accept many of those who claim charismatic gifts.

Some may ask "are you saying he was just crazy?" no
Some may ask "do you believe he really did speak God's word?"

to which I respond "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God. . ." 1 John 4:1

Whether he really and truly gave us God's word for our life, or if was a looney, we three men walked away different and somehow changed by Mr. Murphy's time in our lives.

I guess the whole point is this. There is a WORD for your life that He desires to communicate to you. Search, examine yourself through introspection and exploration into your own experience and test the spirits that are speaking to you to discern if they are of God, with absolute trust that He can bring you into the way of peace.

and cheesily, the cliche' Jeremiah 29:11 =)

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So it begins!

Hello everyone!

As some of you know, there is new talk around town (and other places) about something exciting happening in the Houma/Thibodaux diocese. A missionary house for young men seeking to serve, evangelize, and share the gifts and joys that God has poured out into our lives.

There will be four of us living together in community in a tiny house. Thus far we have Darby and myself (Colby). Committed, but not moved in quite yet, is Tony Laux from Covington. Also, a young man in serious prayer about joining us is Scott from Atlanta. Scott just came to visit us for a day and a half, Tony came over to meet us for dinner last night with some other friends, and we had a really good time, clicked well.

The basics of our year will consist of door to door evangelization outreach, helping with mall ministry, young adult ministry, NSU campus ministry, youth activities, and basically anything and everything we can do. . .period.

We already have had some action and things we can share, but this is our intro blog so we'll save the good stuff for later =)

What we will try to do is give you peeps a shout out and updates on what is going on with us, stories, plans/ideas, etc etc. with input from all of the guys.

our email for the house is:

please please please please feel free to email with anything, prayer requests, suggestions and ideas about ministry, or even just to say hey if you so desire.

please pray for us, as you know we will be praying for you!

in His peace,

"Now to Him who by the power at work within us
is able to do far more abundantly than all that we
ask or think, to Him be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21