Sunday, February 25, 2018

Listen. Let Go. And LEAP!

2 Sun Lent Yr B (2018)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

Have we tried to tame God’s voice?

Someone once characterized the 70’s and 80’s in the Church as the era of “Buddy Jesus.”  Jesus was our friend, our pal, our good buddy who just wanted to hang out with us.  Jesus as the bobble head doll with a big goofy smile just bouncing along with us down the road of life, nodding yes to whatever we thought, said or did.  God made in our image, not the other way around.

We needed some of that.  Coming out of the two centuries where God seemed to be a big ole meanine sitting up on the clouds far away from us, shouting down rules and obligations and threatening to pulverize us into eternal damnation if we didn’t “pray, pay and obey” like good little minions.  It didn’t matter if we knew the Latin or what it meant – we were just supposed to put our butts in the seats and pretend to be involved while the priest did his thing.  Say a rosary (or four) every day, put some money in the plate, eat fish on Friday, and do what you’re told.  For many, faith had become empty and dry.  Helping us remember that God loves us, that Jesus does want to be our friend – to share an intimate relationship with each one of us – to teach us to love and be loved, and to step into a life of freedom: that was needed, it was important…but perhaps it went too far.  “Buddy Jesus” went too far…because we can never pretend that Jesus is only our buddy, only our pal, we can never pretend that Jesus just nods along with whatever it is we want to say or do or be.  He is our friend – but not only our friend, He is also our Lord.  And like a good friend, like a real friend, he also exhorts, rebukes, and challenges.  I think we’ve tried to tame the voice of God by remaking Him in our own image…


Scripture tells us about the voice of God, the lamb and the lion.  “Neither do I condemn you” in the same breath as “go and sin no more.”  “Upon this rock I shall build my Church” just before “Get thee behind me, Satan.”  The wounded lamb, “Could you not wait with me for one hour?” and the roaring Lion, “You brood of vipers, how can you speak good things when you are evil.”  God’s voice loves tenderly and challenges, rebukes, corrects, exhorts…and sometimes asks us to let go of what is most precious to us.


There’s a pattern to the Great Adventures we read in Sacred Scripture.  God speaks, and if we are listening and paying attention, He asks us to do the impossible, sometimes to sacrifice what is most precious to us…to jump off a cliff with and for Him.  And if we become willing – really willing – He gives us more than we can ever imagine.

God speaks.  “God put Abraham to the test.  He called to him, ‘Abraham.’”  That’s the beginning of all the best stories in sacred scripture, isn’t it?  God saw that people had become hard-hearted and turned away from Him, so He said, “Noah – go build an ark.”  In the year of King Uziah’s death, Isaiah saw a vision of heaven…and he heard God say, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  God called to Moses from the burning bush and said, “Moses!  Moses!”  Paul was riding along the road to Damascus…and because he was the stubborn sort, God knocked him off his horse and said, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”  Over and over again, this pattern is repeated in Sacred Scripture – God speaks, He calls to us in the middle of our ordinary moments, trying to get our attention.  Far from just nodding down whatever direction we’re traveling, God snaps His fingers, tries to get our attention, calls our name, interrupts what we’re doing…

…the trick is…whether or not we’re paying attention, whether we’re willing to be interrupted, have our focus redirected…whether we’re willing to hear God call.  “God put Abraham to the test.  He called to him, ‘Abraham.’ ‘Here am I,’ Abraham replied.”  God called Isaiah saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  “I will go! Send me,” Isaiah said.  See the pattern?  God calls…what happens next depends on whether we’re paying attention, whether we’re willing to let ourselves be interrupted. 

This isn’t for the faint of heart.  If we’ll stop trying to tame the voice of God, we’ll realize that when He calls He’ll ask something of us.  Something that will require sacrifice.  Something that will sometimes require letting go of what we hold most dear.  Abraham had to be willing to let go of his only son.  Noah had to let go of his preconceived notions about how life and nature worked, but he did, and followed God’s instruction, and the human race was saved.  Moses had to let go of his excuses and the life he’d made for himself.  Peter had to let go of his nets.  Paul had to let go of everything he thought he knew about God.

Do you see the pattern?  The pattern to every Great Adventure with God?  God speaks, and if we are really listening and paying attention, He asks us to do the impossible, to sacrifice what is most precious to us…to jump off a cliff with and for Him.  And if we become willing – really willing – He gives us more than we can ever imagine.  He blessed Abraham with decedents beyond all telling.  He rescued Israel from Egypt and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey.  Peter lead the early Church, Paul spread the message to all the corners of the world.  Just think…just imagine what God is trying to do in and through your life if you would just hear Him call your name, and let go and leap…


Lent is a season of listening and letting go.  Our practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving help us look up from the menagerie of our own lives to be in a place to listen for God…to let ourselves be interrupted by him.  Lent is a season of listening…and letting go.  Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is practice in letting go of the things that capture our attention so that we’re free to leap in whatever direction God is calling. 

…and He is calling, friend.  You – yes – you – God is calling you.  Do you hear it, or have you tried to tame His voice?  What is God asking you to let go of; what is God asking you to entrust to His care rather than your own?  Where is God asking you to go; how is He asking you to leap?  God is asking you to leap – jump in faith – to listen, let go, and leap.  Listen.  Let go.  And leap.  How ‘bout it?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I'm Glad You're Here!

Lent - Ash Wednesday 2018
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year.  The day after Thanksgiving, when it seems the whole world goes shopping.  Nearly 30% of all annual retail sales are made on that single day.  In the United States 100 million people go shopping on Black Friday.  Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year.  Today is Catholicism’s Black Friday. 

More people come to Church on Ash Wednesday than either Easter or Christmas.  Some estimates say that upwards of 90% of people who identify themselves as Catholics always or often come to Church on Ash Wednesday.  But consider this: among those who consider themselves Catholic, about half say they never go to Confession.  Not once a month or once a year – never.

In a parish of 500 families – 500 families – I hear Confessions 1 hour a week.  The average Confession takes, let’s say 8 minutes; at 8 minutes per confession that’s roughly 390 confessions per year.  90% of the confessions I hear are folks I see once every couple of weeks, so 350 of those confessions are the same 15-20 people.  In total, about 60 people from our parish go to Confession at least once a year…in a parish of 500 families. 

In round numbers, 90% of us come to Church on Ash Wednesday, but only 10% of us ever go to Confession. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year by far – folks who never go shopping go shopping on Black Friday.  Today is our Black Friday.  Ash Wednesday is the busiest Church day of the year by far.  Folks who never come to Confession come to Church on Ash Wednesday.  You know what I want to say to that?


I’m glad you’re here.  I’m glad you’re here.  Whether I see you every day or every week or sometimes or never, I’m glad you’re here.  I’m glad you’re here to Repent and believe in the Gospel – one of the things we hear when receiving our ashes.  I’m glad you’re here to Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return the other thing we can hear when receiving ashes.  I’m glad you’re here to acknowledge that, like me, you are in need of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.  I’m glad you’re here to join us in blowing the trumpet, as the First Reading exclaims.  Let’s blow the trumpet, proclaim the fast, call an assembly – let’s gather the people and notify the congregation.  We’ll assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants.  I’m glad you’re here, because just like those priests in that first reading, I will spend every ounce of energy in this fat, tired ole body to weep before God and pray, “Spare, O Lord, Your people!” 

You see, friends – it doesn’t matter whether you’ve made your confession faithfully every month or every week, or if it’s been so long you can’t even remember how to do it.  It doesn’t matter, because what matters most is that today you’re here to acknowledge that you need God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.  And God is here, begging you – God is here begging you, saying, “Return to me with your whole heart!”  Our God is a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.  If you turn back to Him, He will welcome you back.  I’m glad you’re here! 

Today – today is what matters friends.  And today – today I implore you with St. Paul; I implore you on behalf of Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.  I beg you – I beg you to “be reconciled to God.”

Friends – I’m glad you’re here.  And I don’t care how long it’s been since you’ve made your confession.  I don’t care if you can’t do anything but walk in the door of the Confessional and say “Father, I’m here – I don’t know what to do but I’m here, and I want to be forgiven.”  I’m glad you’re here and I don’t care how long it’s been since you’ve been to confession, I’m glad you’re here so you can hear me say, “Behold…now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.”


Friends, I’m glad you’re here.  Because you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t believe that you were a sinner in need of a Savior.  I know you believe that.  What I most want to say to you is this:  Let Jesus save you!  Make your confession this Lent.  Let Jesus wash the ashes of sin and death away in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent.  Promise me you’ll do it – right now…promise me…promise Jesus…promise yourself. 

Be merciful O Lord, for we have sinned.  

Pray it with me now, in your heart – pray with me:  

O wash me more and more from my guilt 
and cleanse me from my unrighteousness.  

My offenses, truly I know them; 
my sin is always before me.  
Against you, you alone, have I sinned – 
what is evil in your sight I have done.  

That you may be justified when you give sentence 
and be without reproach when you judge, 
O see, in guilt I was born, 
a sinner was I conceived.  

Indeed, you love truth in the heart – 
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.  
O purify me, then I shall be clean – 
wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.  

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, 
that the bones you have crushed may revive.  
From my sin turn away your face, 
and blot out all my guilt.  

A pure heart create for me, O God – 
put a steadfast spirit within me.  
Do not cast me away from your presence, 
nor deprive me of your Holy Spirit.  

Give me again the joy of your help, 
with a spirit of fervor sustain me, 
that I may teach transgressors your ways 
and sinners may return to you.  

O rescue me, God, my helper, 
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.  
O Lord, open my lips 
and my mouth shall declare your praise.  

For in sacrifice you take no delight, 
burnt offering from me you would refuse; 
my sacrifice, a contrite spirit.  
A humble, contrite heart you will not spurn. 

In the confessional – that is where we present God with a humble, contrite heart – a heart He will not spurn. 

Yes friend, I’m glad you’re here.  That’s what matters today.  Not yesterday, or how long it’s been since you’ve been here, or how long it’s been since you’ve been to Confession.  Today – today is what matters, and today you’re here!  Let Jesus save you!  Make your confession this Lent.  Let Jesus wash the ashes of sin and death that you’re about to receive, let Him wash them away in the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent.  Promise me you’ll do it – right now…promise me…promise Jesus…promise yourself.  Now is the acceptable time…now is the day of salvation.

Today is our Black Friday.  Ash Wednesday is our Black Friday, and I’m so glad you’re here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

She Washed the Dishes...and Changed the World

6 Sun OT Yr B (2018)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville, KY

Whatever you do…do everything for the glory of God.


Our lives are generally filled with a series of ordinary things.  Tell me about your typical day – how much of it is filled with the things you did yesterday and the things you’ll do tomorrow?  Wake up.  Pray.  Brush teeth.  Take shower.  Find coffee.  (Mmmm…coffee…glorious coffee… On the very best of days, coffee might even get to come second on that list, right after waking up…)  Make sure the kids are up – depending on the age of the children, that might be something like an Olympic sport…but if it is, you do it – you practice it often enough – that you could probably take the gold.  Breakfast – there’s gotta be food in there somewhere.  If there are teenage boys in your house, that might seem like you’re feeding a small army.  (I won’t say any names…but I’ve heard things…I mean, how much can a guy eat and not get fat like me?)  Off to school and work to do the same school and work things you do every day, and then home…to do the same school and work things you do after school and work every day.  Hopefully some time for family and friends.  Certainly someone is doing laundry, shopping, housecleaning, gardening, repairing…  Rinse, wash, repeat – over and over again, day in and day out. 

Our lives are generally filled with ordinary things. 

Sometimes that makes it seem like there is very little time to experience something extraordinary, very little chance to do something meaningful – it can seem like there’s very little opportunity to do something great…and even less opportunity to do something for God.  But, you see…it only seems that way.

Whatever you do…do everything for the glory of God.


Do you know St. Therese of Lisieux?  She’s sometimes called the “Little Flower” – but there’s nothing insignificant about her.  She’s a saint and doctor of the Church.  She’s a doctor of the Church, folks!  That means her wisdom about matters of the faith surpass all but around 30 other people in 2,000 years.  You know how she became so wise?  What her wisdom entailed?  You know what St. Therese taught us?  It wasn’t some magnificent treatise that took her a whole lifetime to write.  She didn’t produce volumes and volumes of intricately woven theological expositions.  She didn’t even write or preach or teach prolifically in her lifetime.  She was young and frail (only 24 when she died) and lived most of her life inside her convent – and even there, she wasn’t trusted to do much of anything other than wash the dishes and clean the kitchen.  And yet Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times.”

Her accomplishments don’t seem all that magnificent or extraordinary…

But she did everything for the glory of God.

“Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions,” she said, “or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.”  She also said, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”  One more little quote might make the point very well: “Remember, nothing is small in the eyes of God.”


Doesn’t that change everything?  Think of how filled our lives are with a series of small, ordinary things – and how many opportunities they present to us to be truly great…if we do them for the glory of God.  What if that became your Lenten prayer, fasting and almsgiving…  What would it be like to wake up in such a way that you wake up to give glory to God.  How would your morning be different if the way you brush your teeth and take a shower and get your coffee and wake up the kids and get them off to school and rushed to work – what would it be like to do all of that in such a way that you do it explicitly to give glory to God.  I’m not talking about praying while you do those things – though that’s not bad.  But we’re talking about something different here.  Go ahead and imagine it…  What does your typical morning look like if you do all those ordinary things as if you were doing them for God, as if God received your tooth brushing as the most fragrant perfect gift of love and worship, as if God Himself was eager to receive that presentation at work or at school as a prayer of praise…  As if those clothes in the dryer were folded for God Himself, and that floor was being mopped in the throne room of heaven…

God doesn’t ask us to get lost in the ordinary of life and move from moment to moment just waiting for an opportunity to do great things – God gives us each moment and the tedious, ordinary things of life as great opportunities to be extraordinary in the ordinary things of life…

Can you praise God with every ordinary moment of every ordinary day and do all things as an act of praise and love and worship of Jesus Christ who lived even the ordinary moments of His time here on earth for love of you?  He brushed his teeth and ate his breakfast and took out the trash in Nazareth as an intentional act of love and mercy specifically and explicitly for you…and it changed the world. 

You can change the world…  In the ordinary experience of everyday life, you too can change the world – and be changed by Christ – if you follow this little way…

Whatever you do…do everything for the glory of God.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Adversity or Adventure

5 Sun OT Yr B (2018)
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville

She lay there with the most amazing smile on her face.  It was chipper.  She was delighted.  Clear blue eyes.  The purest joy-filled smile on her face; the most wonderful smile I've seen in weeks.  She spoke of how blessed she is, how wonderful her life has been, how much love she feels, and how ready she is for whatever God had for her.  "I can't wait to see him!" she said with the smile of a child on Christmas morning yearning to tear into the wrapping paper.  Her health was declining, and I'd come to bring the sacraments to her and to pray with her and her family for God's blessing.  In reality, she brought God's spirit to me in the middle of a very trying and hectic day in the middle of a stress-filled week.  With that joy and that spirit, she might be sitting here with us this morning, so I haven't mentioned her name.  If she does make it to Church this weekend, I'll get a big ole smile and a giant bear hug from her small frame like I always do, every single time I've seen her - and I'll be blessed.  

What a way to go about living life!

Life itself doesn't always feel that way though, does it?

Job spoke, saying: Is not life on earth a drudgery? Aren't our days like those of slave who longs for the shade, a servant who waits for his wages? So, I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me…the nights drag on - I am filled with restlessness until dawn…my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to an end without hope… I shall not see happiness again.  It seems like that sometimes.

What's the difference?  We like to tell ourselves that the difference is our circumstances - what life shoves in our direction - what boulders or other sloppy brown messes come rolling down the hill toward us.  We like to tell ourselves that whether life is going well or going down the tubes; whether we're excited and filled with joy or grumpy and stressed is a matter of what gets thrown our way - is something beyond our control.  But deep down inside we know that isn't really true.  We sense it in the recesses of our hearts, and we see it in the world around us.  Sometimes the poorest, sickest, most alone - those living in the most challenging of situations are the happiest, most fulfilled and most filled with light.  Sometimes the richest, healthiest, most socially connected and flush with opportunities and successes are the most beleaguered, sorrowful, without hope or smile folks we encounter.

The difference isn't what life throws at us…  Whether the boiling water leaves us more like carrots (that get squishy and lose all their goodness), eggs (which get hard, closed off from life and love and everything else), or coffee (which releases its wonderful goodness into the water and transforms it into something glorious, refreshing, and life-giving) - whether the boiling water leaves us more like carrots, eggs, or coffee is about faith, hope, and love.  The difference between that giddy smile in the midst of sickness or the grumpy frown in the midst of health and wealth - the difference is Jesus Christ; knowing and being known by - loving and being loved by - Jesus Christ.


The same Job that lamented his life found some perspective in his encounter with God, and eventually came to say, "I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…"  That's what seemed to make the difference for Job.  Not a change in circumstance…but a change in perspective.  THE change in perspective.  From hearing to seeing…one might say a change from knowing about God, to knowing God - from knowing about Jesus Christ, to knowing Jesus Christ.

Why do I preach so much encouraging you to faithfully and routinely meet Jesus in Confession?  It's the difference - for you - it's the difference for you between knowing about Jesus Christ and knowing Jesus Christ.  

Why do I preach so often about Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament - why do I plead with you to sign up for First Friday Adoration, or to come and spend time with Jesus whenever you can?  It's the difference - for you - it's the difference for you between knowing about Jesus Christ and knowing Jesus Christ.  

Why do we have Adoration every Friday in Lent, pray the Stations of the Cross during Lent every Friday?  Why do I ask you to make your Confession during Lent, make a Holy Hour during Lent, and come to daily Mass during Lent?  Why do I harp over and over and over and over again about making a commitment to share your time and talent with our parish community, to make a commitment to serving our parish family and the community around us?  Because in doing those things you will encounter Jesus Christ.  

I promise you - if you're looking to know Jesus Christ, do these things - commit to them and do them, looking for Jesus Christ and you'll find him.  Why do I preach these same things over and over again like a broken record - and will continue to preach the same things over and over again?  Why?  Because these things lead us from knowing about Jesus Christ to knowing Jesus Christ - and that makes all the difference.


We learned in the fall, at our Family Night catechesis about the Liturgy of the Word - we learned that the Responsorial Psalm after the first reading signals how to respond to God's word - how to respond to what we hear God speak to us in the first reading.  Today we see a lesson in how to respond to life when it seems like "life on earth is a drudgery."  And what is that response?  "Praise the Lord who heals the brokenhearted!"  As St. Paul put it in his letter to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice…The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."


Adversity or Adventure.  Is your life filled with Adversity or Adventure today?  Before you answer…before you answer…it's not a matter of cataloging what you do or don't have, whether life is or isn't filled with challenges and difficulties.  It's not a matter of listing what is happening around you or to you.  It's a matter of faith.  Faith and encounter - faith in Jesus Christ, encounter with Jesus Christ.  Not what you know about Him - but whether you know Him.  There is and always will be boiling water in this life…there will always be the occasional boulder or sloppy brown mess rolling down the hill in your direction.  Adversity or Adventure…turn to Jesus, however you know how - turn to Him in your heart…and ask Him to show you whether your life - your today and your tomorrow - ask Jesus to show you whether this life is adversity or adventure.

Friends...I'm here to tell you - Jesus is here to tell you - this is a life like no other!  This is the Great Adventure!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

If Today You Hear God's Voice...Brew Like Coffee

4 Sun OT Yr B (2018)
Ss. Peter & Paul - Danville

The same boiling water that gives us hard boiled eggs also gives us coffee.

Ever think about that before?  Boiling water accomplishes different things depending on what you put into it.  Eggs become hardened, stiff, less flexible.  Coffee releases its wonderful flavor and essence into the water, changing the water more than it is changed itself…turning the boiling water into something rejuvenating and pleasant.  Carrots…carrots become soggy and mushy and lose a great deal of their flavor and healthy vitamins in boiling water.  

The same boiling water that gives us hard boiled eggs also gives us coffee…

And…there’s plenty of boiling water around…


Boiling water…a particularly busy season at work or school, a troublesome boss, co-worker, teacher or coach.  Boiling water…unexpected expenses, losing a job, major repairs to the house or the car.  Boiling water… catching the flu, unexpected surgery or diagnosis, seasonal depression or just plain old run of the mill depression.  Boiling water…friends who don’t return your phone call, family members who get on your very last nerve, Friday or Saturday night with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Boiling water…struggle between spouses, a child who seems to be going astray, parents or friends who just don’t seem to understand.  Boiling water…a construction project that has fallen a few days behind schedule.  Boiling water…too busy to pray.  Boiling water…too busy to do much of anything.  Boiling water…life seems to be spinning out of control.  Boiling water…I can’t seem to get over this sin.  Boiling water…God seems so far away.  Boiling water…boiling water…boiling water…

Some things seem to always be there…sunrise, sunset, life, death, taxes, and boiling water…there’s plenty of boiling water around.  The same boiling water that gives us hard boiled eggs also gives us coffee.


The question isn’t whether or not there will be boiling water in our lives – that’s for certain.  If you think about it, you could probably list three or four areas of life that are a big ole pots of boiling water for you right now…  The question isn’t whether or not there will be boiling water in our lives – the question is: are you an egg or coffee?  Eggs become hardened, stiff, less flexible.  The boiling water makes them withdraw into themselves, harden themselves against the rest of the world, making it difficult to peel them out of their protective shell, closing off from everything.  Eggs become hardened.  Coffee, coffee is a different story.  Coffee releases its wonderful flavor and essence into the boiling water, changing the water turning it into sometime rejuvenating and pleasant.


If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts the Psalm says.  God is always there – especially in the boiling water.  He’s always there, guiding and encouraging us.  He’s always there in the boiling water with us.  God is always there speaking to us in love.  God is always there.  Do you hear His voice in the boiling water of this life?  If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.  If today you’re in the boiling water, don’t be an egg…  Listen for God’s voice, listen to God’s voice, and if today you’re in the boiling water, harden not your hearts.  Don’t be an egg, be coffee.


I want to say something directly to our young people.  Would all of our children and youth – elementary, middle school, high school and college especially – would you all stand up.  Would you come down here and stand in front of our parish family for a moment please.  I promise it won’t hurt.  Come right down here a moment.

While they’re coming…  This past Tuesday tragedy struck again pretty close to home.  2 young people lost their lives, another 14 were shot and 2 others injured.  The senselessness of this violence stems from too many children and young people trying to make it through the boiling water alone.  My heart breaks for all of the children, youth, and families who were torn apart by this violence in Marshall County – and throughout the country over the last 20 years.  But today – today my heart breaks for our children, our young people who may be suffering so greatly from the boiling waters they encounter.

Young people…there is going to be boiling water.  You’re in some boiling water situations these days, some of you…most of you.  It can feel very lonely.  It can feel like you’re unloved and not understood.  It can seem like it will never end, like your only option is to be like the egg…and harden yourself against the world and the hurt and the struggle.  But…that never works.  It just closes you off from love and understanding and companionship along the way.  It makes the boiling water harder.  So today, I want to make something very clear to you:

I love you.  The Church loves you.  These people – we love you.  And God loves you.  God loves you!  Wherever you find yourself, whatever the circumstance, however lonely or difficult it feels – you are not alone.  I am here.  This family of faith is here.  God is here with you.  All you have to do is pick up the phone…we will always be there for you.  Don’t be like the egg and harden yourself to life and love and adventure.  Be like coffee.  Listen for God’s voice – listen to God’s voice…and harden not your hearts.  God loves you – just as you are.  God loves you – this Church loves you – and I love you.