Stairway to Heaven

A reflection on an early warning siren, the Eucharist and Purgatory.

Something common place happens here in Cincinnati every noon on the 1st Wednesday of the month.

Like many other areas, the sirens go off. They produce a steady stream of the high-pitch wailing that usually signals an impending storm that could threaten our lives and our homes. It’s usually a sign to collect the kids and head for cover, grabbing the flashlight and radio on the way. It signals a moment when it’s best to place our trust and faith in the almighty power of God and the protection of the Blessed Mother.

But for the 1st Wednesday of every month, it is just a test. It lasts for minutes, conversation usually stops, and then we go on our way.

What was interesting about this month’s test was that it was All Soul’s Day and I was in 11:30 Mass just about Communion time. During the beginning of Communion, the siren went off.

We are each called to be a saint.

Love, hope, conformity of will, and placing Christ at the center of one’s life.

These were the common themes as I prayed through a special Litany of the Saints compiled by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. for the Vigil of All Saints and published in Magnificat.

In this litany, he has us asking 79 saints from throughout the ages to pray for us. With the invocation of each saint, Fr. Cameron has a short quote from them.

We need to take our life plan back from the culture and give it to Christ.

Most of us have developed a “life plan” at some point. We planned out what we were going to do and where we were going to be at which point in our life. Whether it was marriage, kids, career, or homes, these life plans were rather specific as to one’s dreams and aspirations.

After all, we were all asked in our twenties about what we were going to do with our lives; what mark were we going to make on the world; when were we going to settle down; how much of the economic pie and life’s luxuries were we going to grab for ourselves; what were we going to do to save for our kids’ college and our retirements.

What was the Plan?

Catholics are called to Personalism and the hard choices that make it happen.

Every day, we hear news stories about some statistic or another. We hear about the number who were harmed from some sort of cause, whether it be disease, violence, accidents or acts of war. We hear about the number of people impacted from policies of decision makers. We hear about the number of people affected by a decision by a company or organization.

Rarely are there individual faces and personalities attached to these statistics. There is a lack of personalism in these stories. They are just about numbers, not individual people.

The same can be said about much of our culture.

Catholic Silence

September 20th, 2011

Silence is key if we are going to listen to Christ and his Church, instead of the culture that seeks to separate us from them.

One of the wisest sayings I have ever heard is that listening is the most important thing you can do in a relationship and you can’t listen if you are talking.

I’ve been thinking about this saying the past couple of weeks.

My school district had failed the last two levies it has put on the ballot. As a result, most of us have lost our busing. We need to drop off and pick up our children at school.


September 13th, 2011

Being humble means living in the constant presence of God and not allowing ourselves to be separated from Him by our culture.

September 14th is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. September 15th is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Both feasts go hand-in-hand.

I’m reflecting on these feasts in a special way this year because I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about humility, specifically my own.

Was pre-Vatican II a “Golden Era” or just an age of complusion and showing up?

You don’t fix what’s not broken; you don’t change what’s working. These are basic concepts upon which man and society typically operate.

So, what happened with pre-Vatican II Catholicism? Why was Vatican II called to begin with? Why were the “Spirit of Vatican II” forces permitted to carry out their acts of rupture?

The ’40s and ‘50s have been considered the “Golden Era” of American Catholicism. Churches were full on Sunday; Catholic schools were full during the day; Catholics were finally being accepted into the mainstream. But, obviously the “Golden Era” wasn’t so golden after all because of the very fact that Vatican II was called in the first place and that the “Spirit of Vatican II” was permitted to hold the sway that it did.

To provide alternatives to the excesses of our culture, a good start might be to unlock the churches.

I have a problem. It’s almost like an addiction that I want to feed again and again . . . .

I like to pray in a church.

When I pass a Catholic Church, especially an older one, I want to go inside and pray. It’s like someone is pulling me, inviting me to go inside, to get a taste of the riches and the pleasures offered within its doors.

Catholic men need solidarity with other Catholics or they will seek solidarity from the culture instead.

This past Sunday was August 14th – a special spiritual day. It is the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the patron saint of my parish. It is also the anniversary of the death of the Venerable Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus, of which I am a proud member. His cause for sainthood is ongoing, so I presume August 14th will be his feast day if he is ever beautified.

Stairway to Heaven is a weekly feature exploring how to live our Catholic faith in our culture.

Our ways aren’t always God’s ways and we shouldn’t short-circuit him.

Today is my birthday. The older I get, the more I want to downplay this day.

But, this day has to be something more to me, because it is also the anniversary of the day my birth mother placed me for adoption. And, through no other explanation than divine providence, the anniversary of the day I found my adoptive parents 8 years later.