The Mission of Harvesters Wanted:

To spread the Good News of JESUS CHRIST in word and in action! As well as promoting the baptismal call of all the faithful to follow whatever vocation our God has called them to!

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:19-20

The place to find homilies and reflections given along the path of faith by Fr. Adam Carrico, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived For The Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Holy Family and Their Mess

The Feast of the Holy Family
Dec. 27-28, 2014, Year B, #17
Saint Michael's Catholic Church

Imagine for a moment a desolate wasteland, a once happy place that is now strewn with shredded wrapping paper and empty boxes. A place characterized by tangled lights and half packed decorations. In the distance you hear a soft sob. Is it a child that did not get from Santa what they asked? Is it a teenager that got something for which they did not ask? Or, more likely, is it the sound of a husband still in a daze over the large quantity of AAA batteries he purchased when his wife clearly told him that the new toys only take 9volt? And we talk of subordination! Nonetheless, in the air lingers the smell of leftovers and scented candles long since burnt out; while the questions of now what, and how did I eat so much, weigh on everyone's mind. The days following Christmas are not always the cleanest, often they are downright messy.

We will be in the season of Christmas for some time now, until January 11th to be precise, when we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. All the same, it is not hard to see that Christmas gets a little stale very quickly. You have often heard from me about the need for, and the danger of, expectations. Here is one at play - all the energy goes into the preparation with little saved for the living out. It is not surprising at all, however, because of the enormity of the gift we have received. If we were to try and fully grasp, for an extended period of time, the immensity that is the gift of the birth of God-made-man, well... I find it hard to believe that our weak minds could take it - it is just too big! There is a technical term for the phenomenon wherein a gift soon becomes a common part of life; that term is hedonic adaptation. The author Oliver Burkeman describes it as the "predictable and frustrating way in which any sort of pleasure we obtain... swiftly gets relegated to the backdrop of our lives. We grow accustomed to it, and so it ceases to deliver so much joy." (1) Simply put, getting something often feels more satisfying than keeping it.

I image the messiness of family life was present in the Holy Family, along with a focus on present things and a bit of hedonic adaptation to top it all off. Just imagine the mess and confusion active in their lives! A child born in a stable, the smell of cattle mixing with the smell of unbathed shepherds, the exotic sounds and smells of the wise men, the baby crying with a dirty diaper - the kind that needs constant washing. From there they have the fear and confusion of taking flight to Egypt, the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents at the hands of Herod, the road, the dust, the anxiety. From just today's gospel there are days of purification, turtledoves for sacrifice, Simon and his promises of glory, of pain, of pierced hearts and contradictions. The prophetess Anna and her very public proclamations about their little child. There are words of growing strong, being filled with the wisdom and favor of God; and one cannot forget those infamous words of Paul: subordinate, as is proper, love, avoid bitterness, obey parents, do not provoke children, avoid discouragement. These words must have applied to the Holy Family as well, and just as with many areas of faith that don't sit right - there must be something greater going on below the surface. How well was the Holy Family able to celebrate the days of that first Christmas? How different are their struggles from the lives of average families? In a very human way, I imagine, as best they could, with as much grace as possible.

It is too easy to picture the Holy Family in the way we have presented here. Serene, peaceful, the epitome of love, of trust, of balance. This Holy Family was just as much a family as yours and as mine. This signifies that our families can be as holy as this family. They are not introduced here as something to be idolized, they are revealed as something to emulate, to find within their union holy inspiration. The more our families are prayed into holiness, the less we will need this amazing statue and the more we will rely on each other as witnesses to the genuine, complex, holy, and messy reality that is the domestic church - the primary place where faith is formed.

Even though it is probably mixed up in the effects of our fall into original sin; I am glad, in a certain way, for  human nature and this hedonic adaptation. Without it we could too easily be overwhelmed by the gifts we have been given and forget to live them out. We could focus on God to the detriment of our attention to humanity. For this balance we need God-made-man. This must be part of the reason why Christ loved us so much to take the form of a messy, puking, pooping, wailing, beautiful little baby boy; a miracle and a mess all wrapped up in a bundle of flesh and blood. Might we imitate him as much as he has imitated us?
  1. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman, page 31

Monday, November 17, 2014

Falling, and Falling Well

First Published in the Seminary Bi-Monthly Publication: 
The Raven
Saint Meinrad Seminary; November 11, 2014

Here we are, well inside the autumn season. A time of year when many reflections can, and have been, made of the changing leaves, their slow demise, and human life and struggle. As the year anniversary of a dramatic fall of my own has come and gone, I offer this reflection to add to the wisdom already shared on the subject.

The starting point, nevertheless, is not leaves - green or brown - but rather on physical therapy. Yes, you read that right. During my adventures this past year there came a routine consultation with a physical therapist and I gained an unexpected insight from this meeting. She talked about how the majority of people, albeit a natural inclination, are afraid of falling, hurting or making a fool of themselves. It is this inclination towards a safer route that causes many of us to balance ourselves with external things, often when it is unnecessary. The fear of falling takes over and we reach out instinctively. The trouble is not in itself a need for balance; rather the danger is revealed when a fall does occur - and in life, a fall of one kind or another, is inevitable. In the action of falling, after spending so much time holding on to externals, we end up injuring ourselves more than if we had minor falls all along. The muscles used to balance and keep us up are underdeveloped or seldom exercised. The physical therapist's advice: risk falling more frequently so as not to fall for real. It is even said that each human step, from first tenderly placed foot, to last strenuous stride, every step is a controlled fall with the possibility of things ending not-as-planned.  

We experience this physical reality all the time, especially in the chapel. Chairs grasped when genuflecting, clung to when kneeling, and rising. Pushing off one's seat when standing and searched for when sitting. I'm not suggesting we all adopt a hands free approach to our posture at Mass, rather, notice how you interact with your environment and ask 'what am I afraid of?'

Those leaves, you know the ones, they seem to hang on long after their brothers, friends, cousins, friend's cousins - all have let go. It's time for them to fall, but they hold out. What could they have a fear of? When will they let go and accept the risk of falling?

Many people do their best to control the world they inhabit, but truth be told a single breeze or the changing temperatures are more powerful than we could ever try and wield. There are many opportunities we can fall into if we are simply willing to let go.