Entitlement is Not Part of God’s Plan for Us

One of most deadly dispositions to any religious vocation (maybe every vocation in general) is having a general attitude of entitlement.  This is something that I stress with the people I work with as a Vocation Director, most especially the seminarians and those who are close to becoming seminarians.  Entitlement is a belief or attitude that you deserve something and it is problematic on many different levels but I share with you today two of my main difficulties with entitlement.  Our Gospel today shows that this was a very human reality and stirring in the hearts even among the Apostles (and their parents).

First of all, it completely contradicts the proper attitude that most people have when they begin their vocational discernment.  Usually we all start off feeling a tremendous sense that we are unworthy of what we are being called by the Lord to do, and that sense of unworthiness is important.  It demonstrates a sense of awareness of the Divine Nature of our vocation and a healthy sense of unworthiness which I believe might be similar to what St. Peter felt when he said to Our Lord: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a weak and sinful man”.  A sense of unworthiness to what God calls us to suggests that we understand to some degree, if even only somewhat, that God calls us to something that is profound, amazing and beyond our human capacity and capability to understand.  As we grow in our vocation, we come to see that we will bring our humanity, hopefully in its best and most purified form, constantly seeking greater purity – and the Lord our God will do the rest.  Our vocation is to participate in His Divine Plan.  Entitlement happens when we rest in a sense that we deserve what we receive, and so thus pride and a lack of a true sense of ourselves dominate our thinking.  It can be deadly, especially when we don’t receive what we think we’re entitled to.

I offer my other thought today as a priest, and this is something that I speak about with seminarians at times.  People love their priests and religious.  Even those, especially those who are called to different vocations (Holy Marriage, Generous Single Life in Christ) are so appreciative and thankful for what they receive that many times they will share of their abundance with their priests and religious.  I know as a priest that people were very generous at Christmas time and they lovingly invited priests into their homes and lives and often lavish us with generosity and gifts.  When a priest departs, the people he has served are also generous and I know that this was something I experienced as a seminarian first.  When I was on my pastoral internship year and then when I was ordained both a transitional deacon first and a then a priest, the people who journeyed with me, prayed for me and supported me in every possible way were extremely generous.  Knowing all of this, if seminarians feel a sense of entitlement in any way this will worsen for them as priests.  If they love and serve with all their hearts and souls, they will gauge their successes and failures on “what they get” which will leave them feeling disappointed and isn’t what we serve for.  Also, there will be a constant feeling of expectation of something more.  Obviously, if this is coupled with other emotional issues; men could become bitter, resentful, hostile towards the people they serve.  None of these things benefit Our Lord, His Church or getting ourselves to heaven as joyful and dedicated Christians.

The Good News is that while in our own examinations of conscience, we may come to see where we’ve acted entitled and developed a tendency that we know we need to overcome, God’s Grace is abundant.  Go back to the beginning of your discernment…remember that sense of unworthiness because it was of the Lord and remember that while He gives us His generous gift of Himself and the tools we need to serve Him worthily – that it is in Jesus that we find all our own worthiness, not in ourselves and as He offered His Apostles, that if we want to carry His Glory, we need to carry His Cross as well.  May God bless you.

Calling Servants to be Shepherds for Jesus

The last thing any Vocation Director (but most definitely this Vocation Director) looks for in a candidate for seminary and ultimately the priesthood is someone who fits the description of the religious leaders Jesus describes in today’s Gospel.  Someone whom we have to say, “listen to Father as he is your pastor/spiritual father but don’t do what he does”, who has chosen the choice portion in life for himself and forget others.  We are not looking for priests who are about placing hardships on others and seeking the easy life for themselves.  Unfortunately, that happens and hopefully because we’ve made the mistake of taking men with that predisposition in the past who have done damage to the Body of Christ that way, we are on the lookout for such men and hopefully for my own part in all of this – not admitting such men to the seminary.

Instead, we are looking for men who love God and who have servant’s and shepherd’s hearts.  We are looking for men who will take care of themselves as it’s important that they last and endure but who put the needs of the people, and even one person before their own needs (as Jesus would do).  We are looking for men who will become the kind of priest that many in the congregation will look to and want to be like; saints in the making.  Men who help carry the burden of their people as they walk side by side their people carrying their burden.  Men who are kind, merciful, not judgmental, caring and forgiving, men who may be sinners but who visit the confessional regularly themselves.  Men who lead by example and who are examples of how to go about being a good Christian rather than how not to.

Do you know any of these men?  I do.  For I can honestly say that St. Augustine’s Seminary has many of these men in formation for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  One of the great blessings this Vocation Director shares is knowing that the men who are in formation for this archdiocese are the kinds of men who will make good priests.  In fact, so good that it places necessary pressure on me and my team to constantly find ways to help men discern.  It also gives me reassurance and comfort to ask our seminarians to be key players in vocation work.  I believe and have seen the importance of having them as part of the vocation team, encouraging other men to join their ranks.  And then I am amazed at the caliber of men the Lord calls forth from there.  More amazing men present themselves continually.

That – is thanks to the good people in the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Since there might be someone reading this from somewhere else, I hope it is the case where you’re from too.  I know that the holy people of this archdiocese pray for vocations and in doing so, their prayers are answered.  Men step forward, not in droves but I’m glad in many ways that it’s not that way.  Chosen men step forward.

On this day I give thanks for what we have, ask we pray for more of the same; servants and shepherd’s after the Sacred Heart of the Master and also ask for prayers for myself and the people I work with that we may be strong and discerning to find the kinds of priests our people deserve and for the seminary faculty that they may form these men to be Shepherds after His Own Heart.

Lent: A Good Time to Work on A More Positive Disposition

Jesus calls each of us to consider our personal (Christian) disposition with His words in today’s Gospel.  He reminds us to be merciful and not to judge.  He reminds us to forgive and seek forgiveness when we’ve wronged others.  He reminds us to give generously.

How many times have we been merciless in our judgment of someone who didn’t share our belief in God and was critical of God or religion?  Or maybe because someone’s moral or ethical standards weren’t the same as ours, did something which we might consider unacceptable or unreasonable?  How many times have you said to someone else or even just to yourself, “I just can’t forgive that person”?  I ask the question of myself as well because as I do a prayerful inventory of those I have been merciless with, judgmental of, unforgiving towards – I can think of a few.  In fact, I can think of many years of hanging on to stuff and carrying it in my heart which made for me, barriers in relationship and barriers to growth in my spiritual life and relationship with God.  Thank goodness I’ve had someone in my life to begin to point out some of these things to me, which has led me to continue to be watchful of where I judge, where I lack mercy and compassion, where I hang on to things and don’t forgive, where I am much less charitable and generous than I should be.  And then, I make the regular practice of confession and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation – which is one of God’s many ways of extending these things to me.  God leads the way on giving mercy to us and forgiving us, and if we have a proper understanding of the Sacrament, we know we are not judged in the confessional.

If we have let regular confession go, Lent is a wonderful time to renew our commitment.  Many of my reflections during Lent tie into this beautiful Sacrament.  I have experienced some of the most grace-filled moments as both a penitent and a confessor there.  I truly believe there are many conversions pouring forth from the confessional.  Pope Francis speaks often and well of his own conversion, vocation and the strength of his priestly ministry from the confessional.  There are many other stories.

Today’s Gospel calls us to act mercifully, non-judgmentally, to forgive and seek forgiveness and to be generous in heart and spirit.  It’s upon us to act in this way, but allow yourself first to be given these generous gifts from God – He desires it, and it’s as close as your local parish church.  Friends, we all need to work harder at being the kind of people Jesus calls us to be today: the world needs us, our brothers and sisters need it and when we come together on this one, we can really get on with the work of making this world a much better place for those out there who don’t yet know our Lord and Saviour.

Second Sunday of Lent: In God We Trust


One of the most important “learnings” (or re-learnings for most of us) on the Christian journey is to learn how to trust; in particular – to Trust God.  God has never given any of us a reason not to trust Him, although we sometimes see things that way.  People give us many reasons not to trust them, we even give ourselves reasons not to be trusted and thus to be untrusting of others.  Whatever those reasons or circumstances we need to re-learn how to trust God as Christians.  In today’s First Reading at Mass, we hear the story of Abraham and Isaac and it may seem from our vantage point that God plays with Abraham to see how close he will come to trusting Him and then at the final moment stops the plan to sacrifice or kill Isaac and praises Him for His steadfast trust.  I know that I have heard many reflections on this Gospel from a humanistic point of view give us a sense of God’s desire for blind and complete devotion to Him.  In fact, nothing could be more superficial because it would be wrong for us to assume that was His relationship with Abraham.  Instead, I would suggest that this Gospel highlights trusting in God no matter what the circumstances.  God is not telling Abraham to sacrifice or kill his son, but instead to trust in Him.

The same can be said for the Apostles today as they spend time with the Lord on the mountain and He is Transfigured before their very eyes.  As we can see in this Gospel, there’s not a lot made clear, there’s not a lot of understanding given them here.  Instead, they encounter a foretaste of heaven which they will have to hang onto when the tough days which lay ahead come to them.  They are yet to experience the Paschal Mystery, and when they do the faith and trust that is being built up here, is going to be tested to be certain.

So too is this something that we need to ponder with our own Christian lives.  Are we ready to trust totally and completely in the Lord?  Are we giving thanks everyday for what we are given and the grace and blessing, the Glory of God we experience each time we have an encounter with the Lord in prayer, through the Sacraments, in our faith communities?  Are we ready for the time when each one of us will be called upon to fully participate in the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, death, Resurrection and then participation with the Communion of Saints) which we will be called to do?  Do we listen for the voice of God calling out: “Behold, this is my Beloved with whom I am well pleased!”  He declares us beloved too as we join our Lord in the Sacraments.  We join our Lord as we live out lives of Discipleship, lives committed to deep and committed vocations.

Let us consider the faith and trust we have in the Lord our God today and every day of our lives.

Loving One Another as Jesus Did

exaltation of the cross

Today’s reflection is my homily given to the Associates, men in our Pre-Seminary Formation Program in the Archdiocese of Toronto.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the “Golden Rule”, but it was popular in decades past and even in some places now, and while there is nothing inherently harmful in the notion of the Golden Rule; its popularity surrounds a desire to demonstrate for us how much alike many religions really are and I’ve heard it said “how we are all rivers flowing into the same ocean”.

My reflection this morning is not to bash the Golden Rule, a somewhat flawed but well-meaning theology.  If you know the Golden Rule, you might know it from school – many Catholic Schools display it prominently and it makes sense to me to have the Golden Rule there; where many of the students are not Catholic and even many of the Catholic students have a very limited understanding of their faith that it gives them, at least, a sense of why we should love and embrace others.  The Golden Rule offers us a series of altruistic maxims which for us as committed Catholics should not be the limit for us in our Catholic Christian faith.

What I mean is that we must allow ourselves to delve more deeply into what Jesus offers us; the profound mystery that comes from God’s Son, which we as Christians have.  That may mean little to others, but it is by faith everything for us.  The maxim closely associated with today’s Gospel is “love each another as you love yourself”.

It may seem fine for us as Catholic Christians to seek to live in this way but this provides us with only a superficial understanding and desire to live as Jesus calls us to.  Often this comes from a sense that I can only love as is humanly possible, and to love beyond that is for God or Divine, which is hoped for but not likely to be achieved in this life – wrong.  Jesus tells us so.

In John’s Gospel (13:34), Jesus says “love one another, as I have loved you”.  He calls us to love our enemies, pray for those who do us harm. Brothers, this is a totally different kind of love that we are called to as Catholic Christians, as Catholic Christian men.  Of course all Christians are called to live in this way as our Lord commands it, but this is the kind of love that must be a total gift of ourselves for Christ and for all.  Not just some, or our people, but for all.

It is this total gift of love, this agape love which is what urges us on and gives us the strength, courage and the gift of the Holy Priesthood and the gift of Celibacy to live out the Holy Priesthood.  It may be that you haven’t thought or reflected upon this Gospel in this way before, but I’d like you to ponder it now.  Even if we haven’t figured out at this moment whether God has given you the gift of the priestly vocation, or the gift of the celibate vocation to live a life of total love (giving and receiving love in a complete way) so that you may be joyful as a priest and completely engaged with others in the world; even if we haven’t figured this out, my hope brothers, is that you look at the priests you know and others you’ve met throughout your lives, the joys we share with you, you’re able to see these gifts can be lived out positively, joyfully, with complete love and the complete engagement of who we are & who we are meant to be.  And while we are, all of us, incomplete and sometimes weak instruments of the Lord – what should occur to you is that we are men who are trying to respond & grow in the awareness and response to these gifts day by day.

Today’s Gospel deepens our sense of the kind of love Jesus calls us all to as Christians, but the kind of love that is absolutely necessary and essential for the priesthood.  A sacrificial and complete love; a love that is not about counting the cost to ourselves of what we do, a love that is complete in both giving and receiving but in which we trust the Lord on the receiving part and focus on the giving.  I tie this to the priesthood, and I might say most especially the Diocesan Priesthood, because we are perhaps the priesthood most closely connected to the world.  Although we must go beyond naming the individuals or groups we don’t like, and calling them enemies.  We are in the midst of rampant secularism, individualism, liberalism and so many other things that attack humanity.  These things are our enemies and yet we need to be beacons of love and kindness in the midst of all that.  We need to be joyful in the midst of all of that.

We live in a world that is becoming more hostile, more aggressive, more self-serving, and selfish and we need to love with greater intensity in the midst of all of that.

This is not just being good people in good ways; this is profoundly living the Gospel, surrendering ourselves to it in fact in the midst of the chaos of everything else going on all around us.  Being real and not living with our heads in the clouds.

Not attacking others or criticizing everyone but embracing as Christ embraced.  This is the Christian life and it is most definitely the agape, or deepest form of love we are called to and which is expected of our priests in the world today.  Loving our enemies does not mean accepting hateful behaviour, it means having the strength of conviction and faith to love past hateful behaviour or actions.  Praying for those who persecute us, doesn’t mean praying for their demise or diminishment; it means praying for them with love and in humility praying for a deeper sense of love for them, maybe conversion but most certainly for God’s Presence in their heart.  Surely many early Christians prayed for Saul of Tarsaus which led to St. Paul’s own encounter with the Lord Jesus Himself and his total conversion.

Brothers, today’s Gospel is Jesus’ call for each one of us to go deeper: for us priests to go deeper in the living out of our own vocation, in your reflection upon the vocation you feel in your heart the Lord calling you to. Our vocation must be lived out with the kind of love ascribed for us in the Gospel today, nothing less.  If all we are living by is what amounts to the Golden Rule – we must move beyond!  We must surrender to the Lord and seek to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect and realize with absolutely joy-filled hearts that we must continue in this Christian journey towards perfection and stop at nothing short or nothing less.  May God bless you.

Go And Reconcile…


Speaking of the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation as a priest does not detract from the sanctity of the inviolable seal of the sacrament.  As a priest having heard many confessions, who looks forward to hearing many more – I can say with profound conviction that in some ways I wish others knew the real grace that takes place in and around there; as sacred a duty and responsibility I have to protect the secrecy of the confessional; I wish others could hear what’s confessed there; but it’s between the faithful and the Lord their God.  I am hearing, counseling and absolving on His behalf.  Kneeling or humbling oneself before God, much of what many of us confess before God, if it were known to others might make one wonder just how it is that there is so much unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness between people in the world.  In the confessional, people so often want reconciliation with God and other people in the world.  Of course many of us struggle to be charitable to others who hurt or betray us, but in the confessional – so many take responsibility and the blame before God for whatever goes wrong in relationships in their lives.  Penitents are inspiring to me, they make me want to be a better priest, a better man, a better Christian each day.  As I consider today’s Gospel and think about who I have hurt, torn down, betrayed or hold anger and resentment towards; I consider how we live in a hope-filled world much of it coming from the desire to do right towards others and be right with God.  I seek to be reconciled myself and to reconcile with those around me.

Celebrating the Chair of St. Peter


I was blessed to spend some time with the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Boston when I first entered vocation work.  Even though I had been ordained 1 ½ years by then and had taken seriously my own understanding and commitment to obedience and thought I understood the way the hierarchy of the Church worked; Fr. Hennessy shared with me something that I have never forgotten, that shapes the way I look at everything I do as a priest and as a Catholic Christian.  After speaking of “best practices” and the highlights and challenges of a Vocation Director; Father reminded me that it was Jesus, the Lord Himself who had appointed me and it is He who I work for – we all do.  He was not being disrespectful towards my bishop, Cardinal Collins (or his for that matter) but he impressed upon me that our bishops don’t take lightly the decisions they make and pray fervently in their appointments.  If I’m only looking at my ministry as something I’m doing for my bishop, I won’t be doing what he wants or needs of me.  If I see what I am doing as for the Lord whom we are both obedient to; I am going to miss part of the picture my bishop depends upon me to see.  My bishop fills the same roll I do to him for someone else: the pope.  Again, God’s choice through prayer (prayer of the College of Cardinals).  I’ve been thinking of this one today as we celebrate the Chair of St. Peter, and as I think of the Holy Father and the Holy Fathers I have known.  There have been 5 popes in my lifetime, and many more in the lifetimes of others.  They are all so very different.  Some we relate to perhaps better than others.  Some we remember with fondness, some we learned much from, some are more present, some are more “mysterious” and offer profound fatherly wisdom to us – but one of the greatest things we can remind ourselves is that they are most profoundly Servants of the Lord and our servants.  We need to value the papacy as it far exceeds anything the man in the “chair” can offer.  But we need to respect the man who is in the Chair, for the Office he holds is of the Lord.  He may not be perfect (in fact he isn’t and wouldn’t claim to be) but neither was St. Peter.  We are blessed as Catholic Christians to have St. Peter’s successor, for like St. Peter himself, he keeps us together, he keeps us on track and on course and he keeps us, as he seeks to keep Himself close to the Master so that we all can live our lives fully and completely as Disciples of the Lord in the ways that we do.

Our “Sign” [Christ] Is Upon Us: Turn Towards Him and Live for His Good News

Woe to You

Today’s reflection is based on my homily given for the National Catholic Broadcasting Daily TV Mass.

It might be a natural inclination for us to want to look or want for a sign that will point us in the direction of something that we already ought to know. We really don’t like surprises, and most of us wrestle with patience with any sort of long term project requiring steady work.

But we can be assured that there’s virtue in the progress of everything we do along the way in our Christian lives. This may be why Jesus comes across so hard hitting in today’s Gospel; He knows we are on our way but have detours that aren’t going to be helpful to us along that way.  Put in our ordinary everyday terms, He might have said “C’mon people, how many times do I have to remind you of this?!?” Put in another way, His message might be like the strong message of a winning coach calling his players to a stronger, more united, more devoted commitment to the end game, a victory – a win!

Our Lord references the Old Testament prophesy of Jonah; part of which is our first reading today. Jonah brings an alarming and awakening message, perhaps to some, a very frightening message that they need to hear: wake up!The complete fulfillment of God’s plan is taking place now! Get your act together! Friends, this is a message and a wake-up call for us all; I know it is for me, but it is for so many of us who are in the process of living our Christian lives; we know that there are areas in our lives we still need to work on.

As Lent is upon us now, it’s important for us to really think about this, really reflect upon it in our daily lives. If we stop and consider the dramatic message Jonah brought to the people of Nineveh, it startled those who aspire for holiness but who were maybe forgetful, who had become complacent in some things or indifferent in some things.

I believe that to be us: myself to be certain and maybe you too!

One can only hope that a any sermon or homily is going to be for the person who came with no intention to live close to God and then leaves converted & changed, prepared to live a radically different life; but the reality is that while we welcome and embrace anyone like this, it is more likely that if you’re listening to me, if you’ve turned on the television or if you’ve come down here to the Abbey, you’re already trying to live your life close to Jesus.  I know I am, but I also know that I fail at that sometimes.  If you’re anything like me, you need today’s wake-up to get things going again.  We all need to be reminded today that the Lord’s hope and desire for us to re-commit ourselves to a holy way of life is now!  It’s today, not tomorrow but today.

If we truly embrace that, it should be fire not fear in our hearts.  It should be the fire of the love of God that compels us to love and embrace Him and a holy way of life, to love unconditionally those around us; family, friends, those who mistreat us and disrespect us most especially too. It ought to be the fire of the love of Christ that should want us to joyfully proclaim in word and deed that we are Christian – without fear.

Fear is not now, and never has been from the Lord. If the reading from the Book of Jonah and if Jesus’ word bring about fear in us, it’s important that we address that. It may be fear of something in our daily lives that we have to pray for freedom from and ask God how we might be released from that fear. I know I’ve talked with many who are fearful of the end and the final judgment on account of their sins.  Well, we ought not to be – those who are usually afraid are not the ones who should be. We need to make the regular practice of a good confession, and then entrust our struggle to God Himself.  The last thing God would want for any of us would be that we spend so much time wrestling with our own sins and weaknesses that we live in them instead of living for Him and doing the good work He has called us to. We need to be cognizant and accept our responsibility for our sins, always trying to do better – but to be afraid of God’s wrath for sin is not helping us to have a healthy spiritual life and prayer life.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, may we see today’s Mass as that sign, the same sign given by Jesus once for all and for which we put our faith, have a greater sense of hope in and grow to embrace in a spirit of love which Jesus intended for it to be.  May God bless you.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

I attribute much of the growth I experienced in the spiritual life to having a really good spiritual director in the seminary.  When I think and reflect back to those times, I remember needing a lot of help in getting my act together in the beginning and then along the way developing those good practices and good habits with the insertion of insight along the way.  My director explained towards the end of my seminary formation that in the beginning he needed to teach and help me to develop for myself a spiritual routine that allowed me to continue to grow in freedom, joy and a desire for a deeper relationship day by day with the Lord.  The prayer life and spiritual life I developed and grew in while in the seminary is the one which serves me well as a priest today.  Of course I can always do better, and I impress upon our seminarians that they must cultivate this deep desire to be with God and to pray well as seminarians because when they become priests it can be hard at times to maintain it, especially when you become busy – and prayer is most important for everyone but it is absolutely essential for the priest.

The Disciples went to the Lord, the Source of all prayer and asked for His help in praying and we have the Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer, the perfect prayer.  They will (as we all should) continue to ask God to help them to pray better, more sincerely, more perfectly throughout their lives BUT it is important that they cultivate much of what and how they pray on their own.  This extends to each one of us as Disciples too.  It is important that we are growing in our own insights into prayer and our relationship with God as we develop in our spiritual lives, and while it is important that we have a good spiritual director, someone who can accompany us on the journey – it is also important that our director does less “instructing” and more listening to us as directees.

We priests are asked often to be spiritual directors for people, especially those who are discerning.  I am on the lookout for spiritual directors all the time and there are many of my brother priests who feel ill-equipped to be that for people.  I talk about this often, and encourage them because they are capable of accompaniment.  Often we feel inadequate in the advice we might give someone in the spiritual life, and this is why we question whether we should be a spiritual director.  Especially with men who are discerning, what a joyful, faithful, loving, hard-working priest can offer is the insight that brought him to where he is today; more than profound wisdom or insight or the ability to draw from everything he knows about Catholic Christian spirituality.  Hopefully as a person and as a priest he grows in this too throughout his life – but we all need to get better at listening (I certainly know I do) because it’s in listening to another heart who desires to be close to the Lord that we come to see the Lord’s work in others.

Although I share here an insight on spiritual direction, I speak of spiritual accompaniment in a broader way.  Each one of us as Christian Disciples on the journey have people come into our lives as we come into the lives of others who sincerely want to grow and learn from one another – it’s part of the journey!  As much as it’s important always to appeal to the Lord to “teach us to pray”, we must look to the good example of others too, and learn and grow from each other – the Lord teaches but we teach each other and this is God’s desire: that we be instruments of God’s grace to one another.

1st Monday of Lent: What We Do for Others as Important as What We “Give Up” for the Lord

Most of us have been in the practice of “giving something up” for Lent; of making a sacrifice of sorts – but to what end?  Of course this is an important practice and as we seek to grow in our lives of faith, we may even realize that we ought to go beyond this simple gesture of faith if we are to grow as Christian Disciples.  Today’s Gospel offers us all a very important point of reflection.  What are we doing for others?  We know the Lord desires our loving and unselfish gift of ourselves for Him and for others – so it’s important for us, especially in the season of Lent to ask ourselves this important question.  All of us!  Even if we have found the ways to serve, do we serve simply for the sake of others or do we serve and hope for some credit and to be thought of a certain way because of it?  Do we seek to do more, or continue to do what we’ve been doing for a while.  Are we making every effort to examine our lives and to ask ourselves before the Lord in prayer, are there places we could be doing more?

This is a question we all should ask ourselves and if Lent is for us a place of greater encounter with the Lord, we ought to ask Him to help us see these places.  Often times, when we feel the passion that a deeper encounter with the Lord brings to our lives we feel like doing something dramatic in answer to this – and maybe this is the right thing to do, but not if there are areas where serving needs around us are being neglected.  The corporal works of mercy, which Jesus calls us to and in today’s Gospel especially are meant to be given by each of us in loving generosity, but with the people the Lord has given and entrusted us with first; family, friends, people we minister to,  in our parish family, in the community we live in, in whatever measure we can give.

May our Lenten experience help each one of us deepen our commitment to serving others; I can assure you that if you have not yet discovered what the Lord is calling you to (your vocation), He will reveal it to you in midst of service – every vocation is about service and without discerning ways we might serve in greater ways, we will be hard-pressed to discover what it is the Lord calls us to.