Dec 152018

Baby Catholics?

baby catholics

This past week I had a well meaning person make a comment about our parish that bothered me. They called us “Baby Catholics who had only been around for 90 years.” I do not believe that they meant it to be offensive or hurtful, but it was. So I wanted to use this week’s blog post to explain the history of our denomination.

In what will come as a surprise and anger some people, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church started in 1054 AD. While they both claim to be from 33 AD, the church that was starting by Jesus in 33 AD was broken into two new churches in the Great Schism of 1054. I don’t say this to offend anyone or to anger anyone, but merely as a point of fact.

In 1122 AD, the Old Catholic Church was formed and granted autonomy by the Roman Catholic Church. It was in order to preserve Catholicism in the Netherlands and to end the Investiture Controversy between the Pope and the Roman Emperor.

Admittedly, the Old Catholic Church was small and limped along for several hundred years, it was around and keeping the faith. By the late 1500’s and early 1600’s the Roman Pope decided that Old Catholics needed to be absorbed back into the Roman Church. It did not happen simply because people don’t like to be given freedom only to have it removed.

This fight between Rome and the Old Catholics lasted for about 100 years before Rome gave up. Fast forward a few hundred years to Vatican I and the issues with Papal Infallibility. Bishops and Priests who decided they could not stomach the Papal Infallibility dogma, decided to pull away from Rome and to co-opt the name Old Catholic.

This is where the misconception that we are only 90 years old or so comes from.

Our Jurisdiction, the Old Catholic Churches International comes from a long line of Old Catholic Jurisdictions that date back hundreds of years. This path takes us all the way back to 1122 just like most Old Catholic jurisdictions around the world.

Our church continues to preach a message of love, inclusion, and acceptance of all people. Old Catholics have worked to spread the original message of Jesus the Christ to the world around us. This message is all about loving God and loving our neighbors.

Come visit us this Sunday and experience a different way to be Catholic!

Dec 072018

A better version of ourselves

better version

We have a choice every day of our lives. We can either work to become a better version of ourselves, or we can give into the dark corners that lie within each of us.

Make no mistake, working to become a better version of ourselves is hard work. But to quote one of my favorite lines from President John F. Kennedy:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win,and the others, too.”

Anything worth doing is worth doing regardless of the struggle. And, my dear brothers and sisters, it is a challenge we must accept. In our world today, too much hatred, bigotry, and division exists. And unless we work to become better versions of ourselves, we will never see the kind of change that we all desire to see.

However, you can do the easy thing. You can continue to allow the hatred, bigotry, and division to keep us down. We can allow the voices of division to keep us from recognizing the great struggle that poverty have created in our cities, states, and our nation as a whole. They can continue to use race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion to divide us. And we will continue to see people die in the streets from starvation, neglect, and abuse.

We as a people have to stop the continued march of these darker instincts. Our Christ calls us to be better than those things hiding in the shadows of our hearts. We are called to become more like the Christ in our daily lives.

Resolve with me today to begin working to be a better person. Work with me to stand against the hatred by sharing love, against violence by sharing peace, against bigotry by being accepting and inclusive, and against poverty by helping those most in need in our back yard and at our borders.

Then, and only then, will we truly see and end to the hatred, bigotry, and division in our world.

Nov 302018

A new year and a new path

year - Liesel [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Sunday we start a new liturgical year. The First Sunday of Advent is always the beginning of our church year. It may seem a bit odd, however, after nearly 40 years as a Catholic, you get used to it!

With the start of a new year, it is time for us to start taking stock of our lives. It is time for us to look at the things we are proud of and the things we are not so proud of. In my life, I have almost equal portions of both.

Advent, while not truly penitential, it is a time for internal reflection. Advent guides us to Christmas morn and the Christ Child in the manger. Much like the migrants of today, the Christ Child, inside his mother, traveled many miles to find that they were not welcome.

They traveled to the hometown of Joseph for the registration required by the census. Once they arrived, they found that all the rooms were rented and they were left on the streets. Eventually, they finally found one generous innkeeper who was willing to let them stay in the stable/cave with the animals.

It was filthy, smelly and the animals were likely noisy. Nonetheless, it was somewhere out of the weather and a place Jesus could be born in private. I am certain Mary and Joseph were exhausted. And no more was the Christ Child born, then came the shepherds to visit him. No rest for the weary!

All this excitement brings me back to what condition my soul is in when I meet the Christ Child. Have I loved my neighbor as myself? Was I kind to those around me, even those I disagree with? Did I welcome the stranger and the homeless? Do I give food, shelter and clothing to those in need?

And do I place God as first in my life? Or do I allow the noise, devices, apps, phones, TV’s, and other such things to crowd God out? Do I take time to visit with God at church, to fellowship with my brothers and sisters of faith? Or do I spend my time on the golf course, watching TV, playing video games or something else?

In the Feast of the Holy Innocence that follows Christmas, we remember the children two and under who Herod killed in his search for Jesus. It is also a reminder to use that life is way too short. It should remind us to never take anything for granted. Not our families, not our churches, not our friends, not our own lives. Instead be thankful for them all.

In conclusion, this Sunday, I hope you will consider joining us at Saint Francis and finding the path toward the Christ Child. Together we can learn to appreciate all the great gifts God has given us.

And we can start a new year practicing a new way to be Catholic!

Nov 242018

Thanksgiving and growth

thanksgiving

This week I was reminded of a very important part of being a church family. Sometimes being a family means that we have to reach out to others and share that family experience. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a chance to do just that.

Too often we allow ourselves to become comfortable in the familiar. We like to sit in our usual pew, go through all the usual motions, and talk to the usual people. Sometimes we need to be jogged out of our comfort zone and expand our horizons.

That is how we as Christians grow and how we as a church family grow. Inviting our friends and family to join us at church helps us all grow as a family. And it challenges our comfort zone as well. Spending time getting to know others helps us to better help others as well.

As we welcomed in new people to our Thanksgiving Dinner, I was reminded that sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone to see Jesus in others. Once we recognize Jesus in others, we can better connect to them and help them through life’s journey.

This weekend, take a moment to invite others to visit with us. If you have never visited our parish, take a moment to join us for the great Feast of Christ the King.

Come and experience a different way to be Catholic!

Nov 162018

A different perspective on failure and loss

failure

Sometimes we lose. And sometimes we feel like we have failed. But we are not losers or failures. We are human beings living the human experience.

We are not going to win every single time we set out to. Likewise, we will find ourselves behind schedule, reassigned, even fired sometimes. This does not mean that we failed. It means we have things to learn.

We have to change our perspective of loss. If we view loss as failure, then we allow it to control our feelings and perception of who we are. We are not failures. Rather, we are trying to live life and sometimes things happen.

I have suffered so much loss in my life. I have been there and felt like a tremendous failure. My desire is to change my own perspective of these events in my life. It is not easy. I know how difficult it is.

On some Sunday afternoons, as we prepare for Mass, I find myself staring out the door with an empty church behind me. I fight back tears as the feeling of failure hits me. My mind starts playing all the harsh words ever spoken about me and how I will never amount to anything.

I turn toward the altar, toward Jesus in the Tabernacle, and I start our celebration of the Mass. I join my prayers, the celebration of the Mass, with all those celebrating around the world. We offer prayers for those who ask for our prayers and for those who have no one to pray for them.

And then I feel better. I feel like I have connected to something bigger, something greater than me. Likewise, I feel a sense of belonging and love. No longer does it feel like failure. No, it feel like a great accomplishment!

This is the change in perspective I am talking about. Above all, we should realize that we can learn and grown even from our loss, our feeling of failure, and our brokenness. This is the most important thing we can do right now.

Come join us this Sunday to experience this love and sense of belonging!

Nov 102018

Time to stop the hate

stop the hate

Yesterday and today marked the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht in Germany. The Kristallnacht was the 24 hour period over November 9 and 10, 1938 when the Germans damaged or destroyed more than 1400 synagogues, prayer rooms, hospitals, cemeteries, and businesses owned by Jews. In addition, 91 people were killed and another 30,000 men, women and children were arrested and put into concentration camps. They did all this because of hate and very few tried to stop the hate.

We see a rise in our nation of many of the same forces that led to the Kristallnacht. The anger directed at people simple for their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or social status is the same dividing force that convinced otherwise good people in Germany to act against their conscience. As a result, some of those people would later commit suicide once they came to understand the horrors they had participated in.

This week, I got a taste of that hatred myself for simply exercising my First Amendment right to speak out about things I feel are wrong. As of this morning, there are 1,500 comments and counting on the video of the protest I attended. About 1,450 of those are hateful, demeaning, bigoted, and evil comments. And the majority of the people spewing that hate, have photos of them in church, sharing pics of Jesus, and telling people how Jesus in the center of their lives.

We as Christians are called to be better than this. Jesus called us to love one another and to help those most in need. In addition, our Christ stood up to the corrupt authorities in his day and even drove the money changers out of the temple! Moreover, the law and order religious leaders even trumped up charges against him and had him executed. Jesus was a man put through a sham trial with paid witnesses, not allowed to give a defense (he was smacked when he spoke up), and then sentenced to death despite the law saying they did not have the authority to execute him.

Sound familiar?

We see this same process play out every day. And we as Christian remain silent. Lately, many Christians cheer such abuses. They claim they are standing up for their country. Trying to take their country back. They don’t want people of other nationalities, races, faiths, genders and sexual orientations coming into their country. They don’t want them working in their businesses or living in their cities/neighborhoods.

This is not the message of the Gospel. It is a message that runs contrary to the Gospel. As a Bishop in the One Holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church, I refuse to remain silent in the face of this behavior. I MUST speak out against the hatred. It is my duty to correct those who claim to be Christian, yet live and preach messages that are anything but Christian. And I will.

I hope I can count on you to stand with me in this mission. Let us be a force for good in the world, in addition to letting our light overcome the darkness. Join me in sharing love in the face of hate.

Let us show the world a different way to to be Catholic and Christian!

Nov 022018

Change is scary

Change

I spoke several weeks ago about milestones. This week I want to speak about change in our lives. Change is scary and it brings with it a certain amount of apprehension. People who fear change also tend to lash out at others, become hateful, and even damaging to others.

I know because I too fear change. The realization that I will one day not be Presiding Bishop of the church sent me into a tailspin. I have been a Bishop longer than I have not now and out of that time, I have been the Presiding Bishop of a church 95% of the time. The thought that the ministry that has defined me for almost 20 years will come to a close is scary.

And like most people, I pushed for the changes to our Canon Laws that limited my time as Presiding Bishop. We call that voting against our own self-interest. Far too often, we create the situations we find ourselves in because we choose to do something others warn us will hurt us in the long run.

At the last Synod of the church, Bishop Borham (may he rest in peace) and several others tried to talk me out of the changes I proposed. They offered suggestions that would limit my position, offer for the removal of a bad Presiding Bishop, in an effort to keep me from putting in place term limits. However, I pushed for the changes. I was afraid of getting a bad person in the position and then having the church forever damaged by them.

You see, I allowed my fear of possible change to cause me to vote for something that would change my life too. And now, I am stuck with it. So now I must figure out what my life, what my ministry will be like once I am no longer the Presiding Bishop of the church.

Mind you, I can run one more time for the position at this coming Synod in 2019. But I could be voted out at the Synod. And that is the reason for my worry.

This coming Tuesday, November 6, we will all head to the polls to vote. As we do that, remember the lesson from my life and do not vote against your own self interest. Do not vote for a candidate because they sound good. Look at their record. Did they help the poor? Are they helping immigrants? Do they want to give healthcare to those who need it most? Or are they only saying they will?

Vote your conscience on Tuesday.

Oct 262018

Hate never wins

hate never wins

This past week has been a gut-wrenching week. We have experience something that many people in South America and other parts of the world live with everyday. A very sick individual mailed bombs to all the leaders of the Democratic party. We found out this morning that this person is full of hate, anger, in addition he has a very violent past.

It is easy to get angry at him and those who fueled his hatred and anger. We can rant and rave about how evil those people are and we can call for their heads on silver platters. But this is deeper than one act. It is more involved than one person.

We have allowed ourselves to become angry and hate-filled people. The infection that has been lurking under the surface in our nation for years is finally erupted and come to the surface. The solution is not to meet hate with hate, anger with anger, violence with violence. No, these tactics will not succeed.

Decades ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” And he reminded us then that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Where do we go from here?

We cannot hope to overcome the loud voices of hate, bigotry, anger, and violence by stooping to their level. We can only hope to overcome them by showing them love, peace, light, kindness, gentleness, and the example of the Christ. In other words, we can only hope to change the world by using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

When all is said and done, I still believe and will continue to believe to my dying day, that love is the answer. I have seen love transform even the most bigoted and hate-filled person. Saint Paul tells us that, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7. ESV.)

Another version of the above verse says that love never fails and I like that. Likewise, I believe that with my whole heart. We must return to the path of love before it is too late. Our own immortal souls depend on it. When we finally take our last breath, our God will not ask us how many fights we won, how many people we shunned, how many people we set straight. No, God our Father will ask us how many people we loved, how much we loved, how often did we show love to others.

In short, we will be judge on our life of love, or on our lack of love.

Oct 192018

Express your feelings

feelings

Growing up I was told by my father that real men do not cry, do not show emotion, and certainly do not talk about their feelings. It was ingrained in me all my life. I am here to tell you that this could not be further from true.

Showing emotion, talking about your feelings and, yes, even crying is hard. It is not easy to let those around you know how you feel. It is much easier to hide them. By hiding them, you make yourself less vulnerable. You do not open yourself up to heart-break or pain when others reject you or ignore your feelings.

I have been learning this past decade how to feel again. It has been a process that has been difficult and at times painful. Today, I opened up, made myself vulnerable to a group of people I trust and respect. I realize that it may result in pain, I may be disappointed in the responses, but I will have been honest and open about my feelings.

Too often we are told to ignore our feelings. We are told that to express them is to “wear them on our sleeves”. This is simply not the case! To express how we feel is the most authentic part of the human experience! It is what connects us more closely with those around us. And it is what makes those connections more real and personal.

So let those feelings out! Express your love and care for those around you. Share the pain and sorrow you feel. And celebrate the joy and excitement you experience. And yes, let the anger out in safe and controlled ways when you need to. Be human!

Because God loves you, emotions and all, and so do we!

Oct 122018

A life full of milestones

milestones

This year is my twentieth year of being a priest and a Bishop. I have not really celebrated this milestone. Rather, I have spent time reflecting on milestones in my life.

Yesterday we celebrated National Coming Out Day. One of the milestones in my life was the day I came out as a bisexual. I don’t speak about it much because some people see bisexuality as meaning that I want to have relations with anything and anyone that moves. They do not understand nor accept that I am happily married to a wonderful woman and have no interest in a relationship with anyone else.

We like to put people in neat little boxes and sexuality is anything but neat. It is fluid and can change throughout one’s life. This is something many people find hard to understand or accept. But we are called to accept all people just the way they are. Even if that means accepting their changing understanding of who they are!

That is one of the major things that upsets me as I look back on my life of milestones. Throughout my life I have worked to help others. Giving of myself until it hurts or even damages me. And so many times, my work is belittled, ignored, or denigrated. I have spent many years questioning why I continue to try. Each time I come back to the same conclusion.

I continue to try to help others, to be a force for good, and to change the world because I want to be proud of the person in the mirror. I want to be able to sleep at night knowing I did all I could to make the world a little better. There are so many people who need someone to love them, and I want to make sure there is someone there to love them!

At the end of my life, I hope and pray that I will be remembered as someone who loved too much, cared too much, and did too much to change the world. The opposite is not acceptable in my book.

Join me in being a positive force in our world. Let us make milestones of goodness part of our legacy!

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