The End of triathletewithacollar

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I was blessed to spend the last 5 months with almost no access to the internet or my cellphone. During this time I learned a lot about myself and a lot about my relationship with God. At one point I was reflecting on this blog and came to the realization that the title “triathletewithacollar” is really rather irrelevant at this point in my life. I no longer consider myself a triathlete (I haven’t done a race in over a year and a half and I currently don’t even own a bike), and I don’t plan on wearing a Roman collar but a Carmelite habit for the rest of my life. Perhaps the irrelevance of the name is a sign that it is time to say goodbye to triathletewithacollar.

I started this blog 5 years ago in order to keep my friends and family up to date with my life while I was away at seminary. Quickly triathletewithacollar became something I had not planned (and honestly had not wanted) it to be. I don’t really like writing and I’m not particularly good at it, yet thousands of people were visiting this blog to read my rambling reflections – obviously not interested in me, but interested in truth. I’m glad that God has helped me to occasionally step out of the way enough to allow His light to shine forth to so many of you.

I thank God for all of you, especially for those of you who took time to reach out to me. I’m especially thankful for the friends I’ve made from all over the world through this blog. You’ve made all the little frustrations well worth it!

Alas, I think that this is an appropriate time for me to step away from this blog and focus that energy on praying for all of you. Please continue to pray for me as I move forward with my discernment and know that we are united in the love of Jesus Christ!

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar

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Ironman Syria

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This is Abdullah.  Last week he and his family were squeezed in a small rubber dinghy with other refugees attempting to escape from war-torn Syria.  When the raft capsized, he swam for three hours in the rough Mediterranean Sea attempting to keep his wife and two sons alive.  Abdullah was the only one to survive.

Last year I swam 2.4 miles in a smooth channel off the Ohio River surrounded by canoes and paddle boards to ensure my safety.  I am an Ironman.


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This is Delshad.  He and his family rode in the hull of a truck for over six hours with one-hundred other refugees.  After several hours his three year old daughter fell unconscious from the intense heat and lack of air.

Last year I road 112 miles on a fancy road bike through the beautiful Kentuckian countryside loaded down with as much cold water as I could carry.  I am an Ironman.


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This is Salah.  He is one of the thousands of Syrian refugees currently making the over 150 mile trek by foot from Budapest into Austria.   He wonders why those that he meets on his journey treat him like an animal.

Last year I ran 26.2 miles through Louisville while hundreds of volunteers cheered me on and provided me with food and water.  I am an Ironman.


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For over 12 months I’ve put off the task of writing about Ironman Louisville hoping that I’d eventually see the significance of this particular experience in my life.  I’m by no means trying to downplay the challenge or accomplishment of finishing an Ironman—it was one of the best experiences of my life in part because of how challenging it was.

However, I left my home knowing that I’d return the next day to the comforts of my full refrigerator and soft bed.  These refugees leave their homes, uncertain of where they will sleep each night as bombs blow up their houses and schools.

But I am the one called an Ironman.  Sometimes it helps to put things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


Icelandic Robbers

11062790_10153463231389123_344069628999334_n“Hi! Welcome to Iceland!”

The sun was slowly creeping above the horizon as my friends and I walked out of the Reykjavik bus station into the chilly summer air. It was around 3 a.m., and tired as we were, it was nice to hear a friendly voice as we ventured out into this foreign land.

The welcome had come from a lone young man leaning against the wall of the bus station with a cigarette in hand. “Where are you headed?!” he asked excitedly as he took a puff of his cigarette.

“We’re going into town to pick up some things before we leave for our hike,” I answered matter-of-factly.

“Ohhh, you’re going into the city?” he said half amused and half concerned. “Watch out for the drunk people! There are lots of drunk people!” He grinned and staggered as he struggled to hold himself up against the wall. Smiling, we thanked him for his warning.

My friends and I laughed to one another about the encounter as we walked away. We had heard that the Icelandic locals were exceedingly friendly, and our first encounter certainly seemed to confirm this stereotype. We also knew that Reykjavik was famous for its party scene, but by the time we got into town it would be nearly 4 am. How crazy could it be?

No more than two minutes later a small SUV pulls up next to us on the road.

“Hey! What’s in your bags?” There were five young men crammed into the vehicle. The surprisingly friendly voice came from the man in the passenger’s seat while the others looked on in anticipation.

“Camping equipment,” my friend responded as we continued walking.

“Oh,” the man responded before adding, “are you sure you don’t have anything useful in there? Like money or jewelry?”

My pulse quickened and we picked up our pace. “Nope,” I replied trying to sound confident, “just camping equipment and food.” The SUV continued creeping along beside us, and I slowly reached down to my waist pocket to feel for the outline of my knife.

“It would be better for you to tell us now if you have any money in there than for us to find out ourselves,” one of the men in the backseat chimed in. We insisted that our big bags had little of value in them as we clenched our fists around the straps preparing to run or perhaps even to fight.

“Ok then,” the man answered, and then added after a pause, “have a nice day!”

With that the SUV quickly drove off leaving my friends and I completely dumbfounded. After a moment of silence and some nervous laughter we continued our way into the city.

Were these men actually robbing us or did they simply get joy out of scaring tourists after a night of partying? I’ll never know for sure, but one thing is certain, even the robbers in Iceland are polite and friendly.


First Practice Homily

noahs-arkGod looked down on the Earth and saw the great wickedness of man.  He saw a world of loneliness, suffering, and death.  So He summoned the clouds, the wind, and the rain and He sent a flood.  Still today we look out and see the dark clouds of loneliness, we feel the cold wind of suffering, and we taste the bitter rain of death.  We see storms coming, so naturally we begin to build arks of our own.  Like Noah, we take all that we consider to be good, hold it close to us, and put up walls to keep out the nastiness of the world around us.  And just when we’re safe in our ark, God sends a flood.

But wait, didn’t God promise he would never send another flood?  Isn’t that what the bow in the sky was supposed to represent?  Actually, no.  God promises “that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood.”  God never promised that there would not be another flood, only that “there shall not be another flood to devastate the Earth.”  So this new flood that God has sent is a different kind of flood.  It’s not a flood of destruction and devastation but a flood of purification and salvation.  This new flood is the flood of baptismal waters that flows throughout the world bringing hope to the lonely, comfort to the suffering, and victory over death.

Isn’t it ironic that Noah was saved by avoiding the waters of the flood, yet we are saved by drowning in the waters of baptism?  Isn’t it ironic that God promised that “never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood,” so instead he sends the flood of baptismal waters to spiritually destroy our sinfulness?  Isn’t it ironic that it is the walls of Noah’s ark that saved him from death, yet the walls we build in the ark’s of our lives are the very cause of our deaths?  Brothers, through our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving this Lent we must tear down our arks of pride and selfishness, and we must jump into the flood of our baptisms.  It’s only in drowning in these waters and crying out for help that Christ will lift us up into his heavenly kingdom.

I’ve got one more flood I’d like to tell you about.  The most horrifically beautiful flood of all.  This is the flood of warm, red blood that flows from the side of our crucified Lord.  It streams down from Calvary and rushes over this very altar.  Brothers, isn’t it about time that we start drowning?

Texts: First Sunday of Lent, Year B


I’m Addicted to Social Media

There. I finally said it. I’m addicted to social media. The first thing I do when waking up in the morning is scroll through Facebook. As I’m leaving class I pull out my phone to glance at Twitter. And although no one wants to admit it, who can help but to flip through Instagram while sitting on the toilet? I’m addicted. But is it really a problem?

I know not to let social media distract me when I’m eating a meal with my family. I keep my phone tucked away in my pocket during class and church. Facebook never even crosses my mind when I’m hanging out with my friends. But as soon as I’m alone out comes my Android and I’m instantly plunged back into the world of social media. What’s the big deal though? It’s not like there’s anything else I should be doing while I’m waiting in a line or sitting on the bus. As long as social media isn’t distracting me from my responsibilities and relationships it seems there is nothing to worry about… right?

There is nothing inherently wrong with social media. Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram are all incredible tools for connecting with one another and sharing wisdom and entertainment with the world. The problem with social media is precisely in our addiction to it. We cannot stand being alone, so as soon as we are, we pull out our phones to be with our 500 Facebook friends. We have a deep desire to feel wanted and to feel loved, and we turn to social media to fulfill this desire. Every time someone likes my photo or favorites my tweet I feel important – I feel loved.

In reality, our desire is to be loved by God. Our appetite for attention and affirmation exposes our deep desire for a relationship with Him. My addiction to social media reveals an even stronger addiction: my addiction to the love of my Creator. I want to be loved by Him. So put down the phone and spend some time with Him. Realize that you are never truly alone. Tell Him that you love Him, and let Him be the only friend that you really need.

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


The One Reason I’m Not Blowing Up Abortion Clinics

flash-fireThis is a question I’ve asked myself
from time to time: if I really believe that abortion is murder why am I not doing more to physically stop it?  If you knew that tomorrow your friend was going to take her 2 year old girl and 5 year old boy into a building to have them killed, would you not do all that you can to stop it, even resulting to physical force?  The lives of over 3,000 young boys and girls are ended each day in the United States, and I just sit back and let it happen.  It’s not like I would hurt anyone; I could set fire to the building after it is closed and save lives through its destruction.  Even if it were only to delay the inevitable, shouldn’t I be fighting for the lives of those who can’t fight for themselves?  So why not?

There is only one reason why I am not blowing up abortion clinics: because the ends do not justify the means.  Saving the lives of hundreds of defenseless human beings sounds like a great good to me, and it could come at the small cost of some property damage.  However, we cannot perform immoral actions in order to bring about a situation, no matter how good the situation may seem.  The good consequences of an action can never make an evil action the right thing to do.  If they did, absolutely any evil action could be justified given the right circumstances – rape, child abuse, or even murder.

Ironically, the reason why I’m not blowing up abortion clinics is the exact same reason why abortion is morally inexcusable: because the ends do not justify the means.  Imagine that there is a single mother who is struggling each day to put enough food on the table for her four young children.  She finds herself pregnant once again, but she feels there is no way she could possibly provide for another child.  It seems like abortion would be the best choice for her, the best choice for her four young children, and the best choice for her baby who would be forced to grow up in such a difficult situation.  However, the ends do not justify the means.  The killing of an innocent and defenseless human being can never be justified, no matter how much better it seems to make a difficult situation.  We cannot blow up abortion clinics in order to save lives, we cannot lie or cheat to get ahead at the workplace, we cannot steal in order to help those in need, and we certainly cannot murder in order to keep our families out of difficult situations.

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


Biking for Babies 2014

fullThanks to the prayers and generosity of so many people, Biking for Babies was a huge success this year!  My team rode nearly 1,200 miles in 9 days from St. Augustine, FL to Chicago.  All three teams made it safely from their places of departure (St. Augustine, New Orleans, and Dallas) to Chicago and somehow arrived within 15 minutes of each other.  Along the way we managed to raise over $85,000 (and counting) for pregnancy centers around the country.  Even more significant than the money, we were able to raise awareness and support for organizations that cherish life in each of the communities we rode through.

My team definitely had some struggles throughout our journey – thunderstorms, flat tires, traffic, injuries, long days, and terribly short nights – but it really is the difficulty of the endeavor that excites and encourages those we meet along the way.  I was amazed by the incredible generosity we were shown by friends and strangers alike.  I encourage you to check out some of the videos we made summarizing each day of our ride, and consider donating to help support our mission if you haven’t already.

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I also learned a lot about my own weaknesses throughout the ride.  Perhaps the most rewarding part of any sort of trial is that it brings out the best and the worst in each of us.  It became evident during these 9 days that there are many ways that I can mature in character and in faith.  I am extremely thankful for these insights into the ways that I can continue to grow closer to God and to my brothers and sisters in this world.

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar