There are two beams of the cross: Justice and Mercy. Shepherding occurs at the intersection of those beams, the crux of the cross. Today's shepherds, as shepherds throughout Church history, are awakening to the need for both beams. Those who predominately brandish the vertical beam, the law of the Church, are realizing that God calls them to meet people where they are, on the road to Emmaus and join them on that journey. Those who predominantly embrace the horizontal beam, the grace of Christ through the Church, are realizing God calls them to challenge those they journey with toward justice, so that mercy may be granted. Amidst it all, the Church is also awakening to the presence of a rising tide of evil poison that has seeped into society and the Church through the air and the water, for well over one-hundred years: modernism in it's many flavors: scientism, communism, socialism, and progressivism. The wolves are in our midst and we need shepherds to wield the authority of Christ in His Church against it for the shepherding of souls to eternal life.
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
– Saint Mother Teresa, “A Simple Path”
A growing number of voices from various strata in the Church lament the decline of shepherding and resulting harm, including hopelessness. Saint Mother Teresa sums this poverty of shepherding up with poignant, painful clarity. This post will explore what it means to shepherd, and to fail to shepherd, using Saint Augustine's 'Sermon on Pastors' from a fortnight's series of second readings in the Office of Readings.
Father Kyle Ingels and Deacon Patrick Jones discuss the challenges of faith life and family in time of pandemic, and how creating a halo, as we explore in this website, is a beautiful way to run toward Christ together. Catholic Halos on YouTube..
COVID-19 is a virus of the body and the restrictions so many of us are under make it challenging to address sin, the most deadly virus of the soul.
Connect with others from your parish and explore how to live our faith in this time of struggling to find footing, a “new normal.” Phone or video conferencing work great for this.
Discovering homeschooling tips from others.
Priests, connect with other priests and deacons, struggling and striving to shepherd in these unprecedented times, under unprecedented restrictions to be salt and light to the world.
Deacons, start and lead a halo for a group of families who can then also lead their own remote halos with others.
Turn off screens for an hour, or go nuts and make it a half or full day, and read quality books of faith together. There is amazing Catholic fiction and non-fiction, just do a web search. Talk about it as a halo.
Hold each other and all who have COVID-19 and care for them in prayer.
These are unprecedented measures being taken world-wide. Let our response be one that deepens our faith and our hunger for the day we can return to our Lord's Table!
Our intentional sharing of this diaconal call, this pilgrim’s progress.
(Note: This is the first in an ongoing series written for the deacons of the Diocese of Colorado Springs)
Dear Brother Deacons in Christ,
Oh! How blessed we are to, together, serve our invisible, our poor, our outcast! How blessed are we to bring them the Word of Christ through the clay of our bodies, as the least members of His clergy! How blessed each of you able to bring these lost sheep back to the full body of Christ through the gift of serving at Mass! Cherish every moment of love and sacrifice as the gift it is, for Christ may see fit to focus your ministry elsewhere, anytime. As servants, we bow in humility, and go where we are told, do what is asked of us, and of equal import, do not do what is not ours to do. For we are but one member of a body of many members, each with our own calling. How beautiful! When, in humility, we each answer our call, Christ coordinates our efforts and His grace in ways we sometimes are blessed to glimpse after the fruit.
How different would your favorite movie or television show be if one, or all, of the characters wrestled with temptation but instead chose virtue over vice? No sex outside marriage (one man, one woman, for life) being a primary example.
Sin twists our vision like we are wearing a pair of invisible fun house glasses. Our vision is skewed, twisted, topsy-turvy. Instead of “up” being up, we are turned around so we think up is a squiggly line to the lower left; true left as a spiral to the upper right, and so on. Each person’s pair of sin’s fun house glasses distorts reality differently. Thus, if you tell me to turn left, I take an erratic lower right backwards, believing I am following your instructions.
Weird as all this looks to an outside observer, everything seems normal, even if most other people are doing things that make no sense.
Jesus said: “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30). How do we apply the beautiful faith Jesus gives us to the chaos of daily life? The equation is simple. If you feel burdened, weighed down ... you're not bearing Christ's yoke, you're bearing the yoke of sin. Ooof.
Reading the Catena Aurea with the day's Gospel recently, in the context of heresy, we encountered the wonderful word for weeds that grow and are sown among the wheat: tares (pronounced tears, like a tear in my shirt). Tares of the soul are those weedy thoughts that quickly got to seed, spreading their worldly temptations on the winds of our soulscape and sow themselves into our clay so we cannot distinguish them from our own thoughts.
Sin makes us deaf, blind, dumb, and stupid. Where our inner sinner is large enough, even when others attempt to point it out, we cannot see. We have a choice, when others on multiple occasions point out sin we do not see: either persist in arrogant presumption that we are in the right, or humbly realize that sin may have us in its grip and we cannot see what we cannot see.