Lincoln’s Log 1-17-2021

Staying with Jesus

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’ They went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.”
Jn. 1:39

This week we enter my favorite season of the church year: Ordinary Time. It doesn’t sound glorious or exciting, but Ordinary Time is my favorite season of the church year. Why?

I think my love for Ordinary Time comes from the fact that it is NOT glorious or exciting. Ordinary Time is about the basics of discipleship. It is a time of learning what it means to follow Jesus in the day to day aspects of life.

Let’s face it. Most of the time, being a disciple is not flashy. It involves getting up in the morning, praying, going to work or school, doing chores, eating, sleeping. The normal things of life. But when we do these ordinary things as disciples of Jesus, going where he leads us and responding to the promptings of the Spirit, they take on a deeper meaning. Following Jesus makes these ordinary things shine with divine light. Simple acts, done in love, become extraordinary.

I think that insight is central to the Gospel this week. The story of the Gospel is simple. It outlines an encounter with a rabbi with some disciples of John the Baptist. However, this encounter changes everything for those disciples. The rabbi invites them to “Come and see” what he is about and they stay with him.

That is our invitation this Ordinary Time. We are invited to stay with Jesus. As we spend time with Him, we learn that love is present in the most ordinary activities of life. No glory. No excitement. But the more we stay with Jesus, the deeper our souls become and the more we are empowered to love.

Discipleship takes place in the day to day routine of life. As we enter this season of Ordinary Time, let’s stay with Jesus. It is the most important thing we can do.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-10-2021

Looking Back at 2020

“My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
Is. 55:11

2020 was a rough year. Here is a year-end review from Joyce Rupp that I use every year. I hope it is helpful for you as you review your year.

As you look back on the year just completed (2020):

  1. What name would you give to your journey the past year? How would you describe it to one of your friends? What image or metaphor would you use to talk about it?
  1. What were some of your “epiphanies” of the past year (your discoveries of the Holy One in your midst)? How did you grow because of them?
  1. Who were your wise persons? What did they reveal to you? How did this influence your life?
  1. Did any of your hopes and dreams become a reality?
  1. What was most satisfying about the year? What was the least satisfying?
  1. How did your experience of the past year affect the world in which you live?

As you look to the year before you (2021):

  1. What name would you like your new year’s journey to have? What gifts do you bring with you into the year before you?
  1. Do you find resistance within you? Of what are you most afraid as you enter a new year?
  1. What is your greatest need for the coming year?
  1. Who do you bring with you for your support and strength as you begin to journey through the year?
  1. How is your relationship with the Holy One as you pause on the threshold of the new year’s vast landscape? What is at the heart of your new year’s prayer?
  1. What do you hope to contribute to society in this coming year?

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 1-3-2021

Epiphany

“It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.
Eph. 3:5-6

“The word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal,’ in the sense of ‘according to the totality’ or ‘in keeping with the whole.’ … All men [sic] are called to this catholic unity of the People of God… and to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation.
CCC #830

God wants everyone to be saved (See 1 Tim. 2:4)! That desire for salvation is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Epiphany. Our prayers and readings remind us that God is calling everyone to salvation.

Our first reading reveals God’s promise that not only would God’s chosen people be saved, but that all the nations would find salvation through them (Is. 60:1-6). The second reading reminds us that in Jesus, God’s promise of salvation has been opened to all people, not just his chosen people. Finally, the magi in the Gospel are the first fruits of this new offer of salvation to all. As foreigners, they are invited to salvation through Jesus, the Messiah long-promised to God’s people.

This desire of God for the salvation of all humanity is what motivates us to share our faith. Those of us who are parents start at home by doing our best to help our children to grow up as disciples of Jesus. All of us proclaim the good news of salvation by serving those in need around us and praying for the salvation of the world. We can also reach out to specific people we know who may not have heard about the mercy and love of God.

We do these things because God wants everyone to be saved and He wants us to help him make that desire a reality. As we begin this new year, let’s recommit to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone we know!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-27-2020

The Church of the Home

“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another… And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.”
Col. 3:12-14

“The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason, it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.”
CCC #2204

One thing the pandemic has taught us is the importance of the domestic church. The phrase domestic church refers to the church of the home. It is helpful to think of at least four ways we experience the church.

  1. The universal church with the Pope as the chief shepherd of Jesus’ flock.
  2. Our diocesan church, where the Bishop serves as the shepherd.
  3. Our parish, with our pastor (or pastoral leader), as our local shepherd.
  4. Our home, with parents as the chief shepherds.

The domestic church describes #4 – our home. The home is the first place where we learn how to love and forgive; how to serve and support; how to be gentle and kind to others. For most of us, it is the first place we learned to pray. We encounter Jesus in our homes every day!

The pandemic has presented serious challenges to the experience of church #1-3 because it has hindered our ability to gather. However, the domestic church, our homes, have proven resilient. We are able to pray in our homes with whoever is present, or even alone. We can use technology to connect with other homes. Jesus comes to our homes whenever we invite Him.

In some ways, we have been thrown back to the most fundamental experience of church. As we struggle together through the winter months, let’s deepen our experience of being a domestic church, knowing that Christ is the head of our homes. Invite Him in! Let’s also reach out in creative ways to connect our homes so that our parish, diocese, and the universal church can grow in depth and breadth through the power of our home churches.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-20-2020

A Slightly Early Christmas Present

“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.”
Lk. 1:26

This year the St. Thomas More Missionary Discipleship Team decided that instead of giving out a book to everyone for Christmas (as we have in years past), we would give everyone in the parish a yearly subscription to Formed.org.

Formed.org is an amazing resource for Catholic digital content. I would encourage you to check it out and start using it right away. There are movies, short videos, books, audiobooks, bible studies, and more. There are resources for all ages and all of them are solidly Catholic.

Signing up is completely free. You will never need to enter a credit card number or any financial information. All you need is your name and email address. Signing up takes less than two minutes and is easier than ordering a pizza! Did I mention all the content is free to you as a parishioner at St. Thomas More. Here is how to sign-up:

It is that easy, and don’t we like things to be easy this time of year. As we enter into the winter months, spend some time with some good Catholic content to nourish your soul and spirit. Merry Christmas!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-13-2020

Testify

“‘A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.”
Jn. 1:6

The Advent wreath is beginning to light up. This weekend we light our third candle (often pink) as we rejoice that we are over halfway through the season of Advent. Christmas is just around the corner.

These Advent candles testify to the coming of Christmas. They don’t make Christmas happen. Christmas would come whether or not we had candles (believe me, there have been years when my wreath wasn’t out, but Christmas still came!). Our Advent candles aren’t even the light. They support the flame and make it visible, but our candles are useless without the light that is given to them when we “light them up.”

Our Advent candles testify to the coming of Christmas. They testify to the light.

John the baptist is like an Advent candle. He knows that he is useless without “the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie” (Jn. 1:28). He comes to testify. It is that simple. His words and actions, even when they are dramatic, point to a reality that is beyond his control and even beyond his understanding. John does his best to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.

As we walk through these final days of Advent, let’s remember that our job is no more than that of John. We do not need to make Christmas happen. God is doing things that are beyond our control and understanding. He is coming with salvation in His hands. Our job is to testify.

How do we do that?

Look around! See what God is doing. Give witness to the good things that God is doing in our midst. He is the one who gladdens our hearts. Ready or not, He is coming. The best preparation for Christmas is to testify to the goodness around us. Then we will be like John this Advent as we become “the voice of one crying out in the desert” (Jn. 1:23).

May these final weeks of Advent find us crying out the goodness of God, for the Lord is coming!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 12-6-2020

The Hope of Advent

“‘Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.”
Is. 40:1

[Note: Due to my schedule and early holiday bulletin deadlines, I am writing this Log a few days before Thanksgiving.]

As I write this my heart is experiencing the tug of war between hope and despair. This tension has become familiar over the last several months. For example, I read in the news about a promising vaccine and further down the page about the health and economic challenges of the coming winter. I look outside and see the sun shining, but I know the grey of winter will be coming. My heart and my mood vacillate between a cautious optimism and the depths of despair. For me, this is the mood of Advent.

Advent is always a season of waiting and of promise. It can handle this type of tension. Today’s second reading reminds me that “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day” (2 Pt. 3:8). The journey we are on is a long one filled with tension. This is not a surprise. We can be patient and sit with the tension. But there is more than just stoic endurance for us this Advent.

The real good news that Advent brings is that this tension is leading us somewhere. We are people of hope because we are on a journey that has a destination. Several years ago, Pope Benedict reminded us that, “the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey” (Spe Salvi #1).

Advent reminds us that there is a goal and that it will justify the struggles and tensions we experience on the way. The Second Letter of Peter puts it this way, “According to His promise we await new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pt. 3:13).

This tension in my heart is an invitation to hope. The promise of God’s coming Kingdom is great enough, and his promise sure enough, that I will live this Advent filled with hope. The struggle is real, but the promise is sure.

May God bless you on your Advent journey.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 11-29-2020

Watch!

“‘What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’.”
Mk. 13:37

Have you ever heard of bi-modal sleeping? Historians and archeologists tell us that prior to the 19th century, many people around the world divided the night into two segments with a period of being awake in between. For example, they would go to bed shortly after the sun went down, but rise again a few hours later for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, and then return to bed until morning. This is sometimes referred to as the “second sleep.”

A recent article on the second sleep states that:

During this waking period, people would relax, ponder their dreams, or have sex. Some would engage in activities like sewing, chopping wood, or reading, relying on the light of the moon or oil lamps.

Medieval monks used to rise in the middle of the night for prayer (called Vigils) and then return to bed. I know many people who, when they are battling insomnia or just can’t sleep for some reason rise to pray. Some even tell me they start praying the rosary while lying in bed and gradually drift back to sleep. One person told me her mother said the angels finish the rosary if you start it and then drift off. I love that idea!

Keeping vigil, that is rising in the night for prayer, is a powerful spiritual practice. It enables us to find some quiet and watch for the Lord’s coming. It is a practice that just about anyone can begin, whether you watch for the Lord for a few minutes as you drift back to sleep or rise from your bed and pray. Some of us are called to vigil when our anxieties or racing minds just won’t let us fall back asleep. Follow that call to keep vigil!

Prayer itself is a form of being awake. When we pray, we wake ourselves up to the reality of God’s presence. It is not surprising that Jesus tells his disciples to keep watch.

Advent is a special time for us to pray and keep watch. Follow Jesus’ call to keep vigil. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 11-15-2020

Gift and Responsibility

“‘His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”
Mt. 25:21

Responsibility is not a word we usually associate with gifts. We love gifts, but we don’t like responsibility. We enjoy gifts but associate them with freedom from responsibility. “It’s a gift. I can do whatever I want to with it,” we think to ourselves. Imagine being required to give a report on what you did with last year’s Christmas presents! Can’t we just enjoy our gifts?

This week’s Gospel reminds us that the gifts we have received from God aren’t given to us for our benefit. We may enjoy the gifts God has given us, but God has given us these gifts to benefit others. Like much of what Jesus teaches, we discover that when it comes to gifts, “it’s not really about us” at all. Everything is about the Kingdom of God. Our lives and our gifts are part of a much bigger reality than we can imagine. We are called to not just enjoy our gifts, but also to risk using them for the kingdom.

And it doesn’t matter what the gift is. We may not like it. We may think it is a useless gift. We may be embarrassed by it or be afraid to use it. But what we think about our gift doesn’t matter. No matter how small or seemingly useless the gift is, it has a glorious destiny. It is destined to help build God’s kingdom. St. Teresa of Calcutta (aka Mother Teresa) is often quoted as saying,

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

This is good news! If you want to find lasting joy, find a way to use your gifts, whatever they are, to serve others, and help build God’s kingdom. There is a new kind of freedom that we discover when we give our gifts away. It is freedom from ourselves and the freedom to love.

“Come, share your master’s joy.”

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader