The United States of America is a great nation. Our nation is not perfect, but we have a lot to be proud of. Our nation was founded on some key values, especially freedom and justice. Freedom and justice are very good things but they need to be connected to truth. If they become disconnected from truth, then they become strange and destructive. True freedom does not come from breaking our limits, but from recognizing our limits and living within them.

Our nation is facing a debate over the issue of freedom. The federal government is mandating that organizations and businesses supply health care, and that this health care has to include birth control. In doing this, we have made “sexual freedom” and official god of our nation. The government is officially committed to giving out condoms and birth control, and guaranteeing access to abortion. This is not going go bring us true freedom; true freedom only comes when we recognize our limits and live within them.

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Ordinary Time, 14th Sunday. How could Jesus be telling the truth that his yoke is easy, his burden light? It seems hard to believe, especially for those dealing with the load of family, illness or death. After much reflection (and being stalked by this scripture) I have three thoughts on what Jesus means:

1. Let God Lead

“Meek” in the Bible is associated with farm animals. A farm animal lets you lead it. Moses and Jesus are called meek because they let God lead them. Many times our burdens come from our own expectations and not from God. Do you let God lead in your choice of church to attend? Do you let God lead when it comes to your marriage? How about job, moves, family size? Letting God lead lightens your load.

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi).

Today we celebrate Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord. We are going to study possibly the most shocking and even scandalous teaching of Christianity: the Real Presence of Jesus. Our readings today show us Jesus causing a terrible scandal. He tells the people,

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Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. Peter and Paul were very different. Peter was relatively uneducated, a hard-worker with a big heart. His keys remind us of his Ministry to build up the Church. Paul was an intellectual who wrote, preached, and was the face of the Church’s Mission to unbelievers. Both were motivated by the same thing: a real love for Jesus. Do we have a love for Jesus? This must be the motivation behind both our Ministry to other Christians and our Mission to unbelievers. The other thing that Peter and Paul teach us is that God accepts and uses all kinds of different people in His work. God needs your gifts too. Accept the call He offers you: “Come, follow me.”

(29 Jun 2014)

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St. Peter and St. Paul were pillars of the early Church, and both of them gave their lives as witnesses to Jesus. The Bible, however, makes it clear that Peter and Paul were flawed and imperfect men. Peter denied Jesus three times, and Paul persecuted Christians until a very dramatic grace changed the course of his life. They were both sinners, but they gave their lives to Jesus and He did great things with them. We are sinners, but if we give our lives to Jesus, He can do great things with us.

 

Priestly ministry has always faced many challenges: lapsed Catholics, disgruntled volunteers, Diocesan policy, the Devil…. But in the world of today, the biggest challenge can be multiple locations. Many priests are shared between two, three, even four parishes. In my case I split time between two offices. That can lead to lots of frustrations. Maybe you took down a name and phone number and promised, “I’ll call you tomorrow,” but the next day the note is siting at your other desk. Fortunately, there are lots of tools out there that can ease the struggle. Here are five that have helped me.

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This spring my parish just completed our fourth consecutive walking pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. It’s the only approved Marian apparition site in North America, and it happens to be a convenient 55 miles from my parishes. It shocked and surprised people when I first told them I wanted to walk to the shrine. Americans simply cannot imagine using their feet to actually transport them somewhere. For most of the history of the world, most humans have relied on their feet to get them where they wanted to go. Feet still work just fine. Even to this day pilgrims plod the famous Camino in Spain to the burial place of St. James. Traveling by foot gives you a new appreciation of the world around you. You experience the land as a living thing and appreciate the places more. One pilgrim told me, “I’ve lived in Oconto all my life, I’ve been up and down this road many times, but I can’t remember ever seeing that house before.” You can go far by taking life one step at a time.

My dream is that some day America will rediscover the ancient practice of walking pilgrimages. I would love to see a walking trail begin at the Cathedral of Green Bay and make its way out to the Shrine. Other trails from around the state could connect important religious sites. Perhaps local communities would open up free hostels where pilgrims could spend a night. People could rediscover a sense of the land and the freedom that feet give you while connecting again with nature and each other. A walking pilgrimage is a surprisingly easy thing to do:

Walk out your front door. Close it behind you. Start walking.
When you get to your destination, stop walking.

When traveling with a group in America today, you will need to make some plans in advance. Here are seven steps towards making an old-fashioned pilgrimage a success.

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Like Jews and Muslims, Christians believe in one God. However, Christians are unique in believe that God is a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although they are three distinct persons, there is no division among them: they are perfectly united. The unity of the Trinity teaches us that although there are many differences between people, we don’t have to be divided. Instead, we can be united in love.

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The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. 5 Days, 13 walkers, 58 miles — another successful walking pilgrimage! The hardest day for most of us was Wednesday. Many of us struggled that day and we also struggled with each other. We were off to a good start but forming Christian community meant we had to go through a ‘storming’ period until we could move into ‘norming’ a deeper level of community.

Only the Holy Trinity forms community easily. The total gift of the Father becomes the Son, and the Son gives back again which becomes the Spirit. Father, Son and Spirit: a Lover, a Beloved, and the Love between them. They are not afraid to give, and that is why they form community so easily.

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