Merry Christmas Friends!

I was digging through some old emails and found one I’d saved but never read. It contained this video about the powerful meaning of the Sign of the Cross, something we Catholics often take for granted.

As we celebrate the greatest gift ever given today – the birth of Our Savior – let’s take a couple minutes and learn what the Sign of the Cross means so that every time we make it, we can call to mind the essentials of our faith.

Enjoy your time with family and friends today. Joy to the World. The Lord is Come. Let Earth Receive Her King!

Renewal and Raking Leaves

It’s early November in Kansas City and one of the best times of the year to be outside in the fresh air – watching the kids play soccer, enjoying a brisk walk, or raking leaves off the lawn.

About raking those leaves… It’s easy to see it as an exercise in futility. I rake, I vacuum, I bag and then more fall and I do it over again the next weekend. It goes on and on until they’ve all fallen and the tree branches lie barren until spring’s renewal.

When I think about it, the renewal comes long before springtime. Each fall weekend that I clear the lawn is a renewal for me. A reminder that I need to do these simple things over and over again to reach my goal of having a well-maintained home that my family can live in for many years to come.  This weekly renewal is not at all unlike my journey of faith.

As I was raking leaves today, I listened to Randy Hain’s Journey to Heaven: A Roadmap for Catholic Men. The was there too, helping me make a valuable connection that I’m compelled to share with you as I take a break from my labor.

That simple connection is that raking leaves weekly is as valuable for my home as daily prayer and reading, regular visits to the confessional, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and weekly meetings of That Man is You are for my soul. They are all necessary and need to be done regularly in order to reach my ultimate goal of getting my family to heaven.

When the lawn is neglected, the leaves form a blanket and many negative consequences result. The grass underneath is deprived of sunlight, the leaves and mulch in the landscape beds become inseparable, and drainage from the front yard to the backyard is hindered, which can damage my home’s foundation and lead to basement flooding – something I know too much about. More work and more investment is needed to get my home back looking the way it should.

When I devote less daily, weekly and monthly time to God, more time is left for unproductive activity. The devil is given an opportunity to move into the empty space and grab a foothold. I turn to things of the world for satisfaction instead of developing an interior life that leads to unspeakable joy and peace. The result is darkness and separation from , who I should always hold closest to my heart.

The lesson?

Keep raking those leaves and never get discouraged when new ones fall. The daily, weekly and monthly work of getting rid of the leaves develops the habits that pay dividends here and in the next life.