Category Archives: Spiritual Reflections

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

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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


Experience the Moment, Don’t Just Capture It

cameras-at-a-show Have you ever noticed how at a tourist attraction everyone seems to have to get a picture?  Or how during a fireworks show or concert everyone has their phones out capturing each second to be stored on their memory card?  It’s like everywhere we go we like to have something tangible to take home with us in order to help us remember the event.  There is certainly something beautiful about saving a memory in a photo or video, but perhaps in our attempts to capture every moment we are really missing the intrinsic power of the experiences themselves.

I recently overheard the conversation of two parents discussing if they should bring their two year old son to Disney World.  In the end they decided that it would be best to wait until the child was older so that he could remember the experience.  They would hate to waste so much money on a trip that their son would not remember later in life.

That got me thinking though—is the only valuable thing about an experience our memory of that experience?  If we were to have no recollection of the significant events of our childhood, would that render those events meaningless?  Of course not!  Experiences are worth more than the memory they leave behind; experiences existentially change us.

Sure, that child may not have the tangible memory of seeing Mickey Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle or of floating down the river listening to the incessant drone of “It’s a Small World,” but the joy of those experiences will permeate through his soul and transform who he is.  If tomorrow you were to wake up with absolutely no memory of your past, all that you’ve experienced, all you’ve seen and heard and thought throughout your life, have still molded you into the person you are today, memory or not.

So perhaps we should focus less on capturing each moment into a tangible memory and instead be more open to letting the experiences pervade and transforms our lives.

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


The Ultimate Endurance Challenge

Silhouette-of-a-Man-Running-Photographic-Print-C13098683

Over the last several years I’ve raced countless triathlons, run an ultra-marathon, climbed mountains, biked across the country, and hiked long days through rain and snow. All of these were great tests of endurance—tests of the mind and the will just as much as the body. However, one challenge stands out over all of these as being the most difficult and the most rewarding test of endurance in my life. The ultimate endurance challenge is prayer.

Now before you roll your eyes and go back to browsing Facebook, hear me out for a second. I’ve devoted thousands of hours of the last several years of my life to my training and to my prayer, and while I’m certainly no expert in either, one thing I can tell you is how much they have in common. I learn more about training from my prayer and more about prayer from my training.

It’s 5:50 and the alarm goes off. I peep my head out from under the covers for just long enough to feel the cold air hit my face and to hear the rain pattering on the window. Guess what I don’t really don’t want to do? Go for the grueling 20 mile run. 30 minutes later I’m flying down the trails, splashing through the puddles and having a great time. In training, sometimes the hardest part is convincing myself to get started. This is where the real test takes place: can I convince myself to commit to that 20 mile run? Likewise, can I convince myself to commit to my prayer for the day? Usually the hardest part is getting started.

New scenario now: I’ve been out biking all day, I’m running low on food and water, but I planned to stay out for another hour. Do I call it a day and head home early, or to I stick to my original plan and push through that last hour of riding? In training it can be easy to cut workouts short when things are not going well. These are the times that it’s important to remember what it is that I’ve committed to do and to stick to the original plan no matter how much I feel like stopping early. Likewise in my prayer, when I feel tired, distracted, or bored, I must stick to my initial plan knowing that God cherishes my commitment out of love of Him more than my ability or skill. Often the most difficult moments of training are the most rewarding, and so too for time devoted to God in prayer.

One last scenario: I’ve been training for a big race for months and I go out for a run during which everything goes wrong. I get back to realize I averaged a minute per mile slower than I had intended. Maybe all this training I’ve been doing is futile. I’ve put in the training but I’m not seeing the results I’ve hoped for—maybe I should just take some time off and forget about this race. The times when I can’t feel the benefits of my training are often the times that I’m making the most improvement. If I stay devoted to my training, no matter how difficult the fruits of my work are to see, I’ll continue to improve and be prepared come race morning. Likewise when my prayer feels dry and distracted, when after months of dedication I don’t feel any closer to God, and when I begin to question whether prayer itself is pointless, these are the times that God is working silently within me to draw me closer to Him.

My training molds my heart to more effectively receive oxygen to be spread throughout my body. My prayer molds my heart to more effectively receive God’s love to be spread throughout the world.

Each day is the race, prayer is the training, and heaven is the prize. This is the most important race you will ever run. Shouldn’t you train hard and often? Shouldn’t you do everything in your power to win the prize?

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Cor 9:24-25

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


A Love Letter to My Past-Valentines

Dear Past-Valentine,

It’s been a while since we’ve last spoken, but you deserve to hear this from me even if it is a little late.

First, I want to thank you for the time we had together.  You were an important part of my life and made a significant impact on who I am today.  I thank God for every day we had together—every good we did, every joy we shared, and every mistake we made.  Together we walked the path of life, and no matter how far apart we are now, we will always share that common past.

I also want to offer you an apology.  I did not love as I should have, and for that I am sorry.  You are a beautiful daughter of God and deserve to be treated as such.  I was selfish in the way I treated you—I used you out of my own pride and insecurity, and you deserved much better.  I know there is no way that I can make up for the mistakes I’ve made, but I do want to offer you my love now.  I can’t offer you the flowers, the words of affection, and the self-sacrifice that you deserved in the past, but I can offer you an even greater sign of my love: my prayers.

This is my gift to you, my Past-Valentine.  I pray that you realize your great dignity as a beloved child of God; I pray that you get the flowers, the words of affection, and the self-sacrifice that you deserve this Valentine’s Day; and I pray that you continue growing closer to God each and every day.

God bless you my Past-Valentine,

triathletewithacollar


I found my soul-mate, and we’re not going to wait

heart-on-fire13Yes, that’s right, I finally found “the one,” and I don’t plan on waiting to give myself to the love of my life.  I’ve finally found that person about whom all those cheesy love sayings apply: “You complete me,” “I need you,” and “I’m nothing without you.”  It all feels so right and so natural, so I’m not going to hold myself back any longer.  My soul-mate can have me-all of me-right here and right now.

Jesus, my soul was made to be in relationship with You.  You are the love of my life; You complete me; I need You.  I’m not going to hold myself back any longer, Lord.  You can have me-all of me-my body, my mind, and most of all my heart.  Amen.

Verso l’alto,

triathletewithacollar


Dear Protestant brothers and sisters,

Tlead-me-to-the-crosshank you for walking with me, challenging me, and supporting me in my journey of faith.  We are held together by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I thank God for all that you do to proclaim the Good News of His life, death, and resurrection.  I thank you most especially for challenging me to have a stronger personal relationship with Christ, to grow in my knowledge and love of the Bible, and to share the message of Christ with all whom I meet.

In a world torn apart by agnosticism and secularism it is important that we come together to defend our common faith and to be witnesses in our daily lives.  Please continue to share your love for Christ with me and to challenge me to be transformed by this love in my thoughts and actions.  Let us pray for one another united by our common faith in Christ.

Your Catholic friend,

triathletewithacollar