Back in the Saddle Again . . .

Although I am, in fact, a fan of hard rock music, this post is not in deference to Aerosmith’s song bearing the same name.  Rather, it’s just a note to say that blogging has resumed at

saddle3I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve been asked why I haven’t been blogging, but I can share with you the response I’ve given each time:  “I’ve been busy, wrapped up with this or that.”  And I’ve delivered that line convincingly.

But, while it is true, it’s not the root of my electronic silence.  This last weekend marked one year from the Von Maur shooting.  The last entry I posted was related to that tragedy, and it’s something I think about regularly, and pray about even more often.  One of the heroines is the sister of a friend of mine.

Each time I log onto my blog and see the entry it brings sadness to me a new, and renews feelings about the same.  In a way, I’ve liked that fact that the heroes and heroines of Von Maur were displayed with prominence for all this time.  I just didn’t feel right about blogging with something inconsequential afterward (cooking, or what-not).

But it’s time now to begin again.  A new liturgical calendar is upon us, new hope is given us, and,  mourning has broken, so to speak.

Welcome back to my electronic musings — and thank you for your understanding.

Categories: Faith, Prayer | 2 Comments

Heartland Heroes and Heroines

All the victims of Wednesday’s crime have been identified.  I’m posting again on this topic to honor their memory and to solicit your prayers for them.

One item I would like to draw attention to is the fact that the employees of Von Maur continued serving  their customers.  Most of them stayed at their stations and helped patrons find cover.  The six employees listed here became heroines and heroes without pausing to think about it.  Although they became victims against their will, they will be remembered as heroes and heroines by choice — they served to the end.   

 There were two male shoppers at Von Maur that were killed:

  • Gary Scharf – 48 years old and a resident of Lincoln, NE — stopped to do a little Christmas shopping before hopping a plane for work.
  • John McDonald – 65 years of age, a resident of Council Bluffs, IA — shopping for family and friends. 

There were six employees of Von Maur as well whose lives were taken:

  • Maggie Webb– just 24 years old and already a store manager for Von Maur.  Energetic and loving, Maggie brought out the best in those around her.
  • Angella “Angie” Schuster – 36 years of age – department manager and just a few weeks shy of being engaged to marry.  Angie was a loving aunt that was great with children.
  • Beverly Flynn– 47 years of age – both a real estate agent as well as a part-time employee of Von Maur who shared her love of Christmas by wrapping gifts for patrons.  
  • Gary Joy – 56 years old – a store janitor that spent his life being helpful to others.  His giving spirit continued even beyond his lifetime – Gary donated his organs to save another life.  (for more info on donation click here)
  • Janet Jorgensen– 66 years old – a full time Von Maur employee and a grandma that enjoyed baking and sewing.
  • Dianne Clavin Trent– 53 years of age – a charming, helpful woman with a perpetual smile on her face.  Dianne’s cheerful demeanor was evident in her previous job as a flight attendant.  Graceful, loving and a special aunt to her 23 nieces and nephews.  Dianne is also the sister of Bill Clavin – a fellow parish family member of St. Gerald. 

I don’t like calling members of our parish “parishioners,” but rather family members.  It better describes the attitude of collective love and service of the members of the parish.  We are a family and everyone has gifts and talents that keep our family intact.   

One of the things I do as a deacon of our family is help those who are hurting.  And the hurt that Bill & Kathy and Katie are feeling has spread throughout our parish family.  So I ask you to pray for the Clavins, and for Dianne’s sisters and brothers-in-law and their children. 

And the pain doesn’t end there – Dianne was a member of St. Leo’s parish family here in Omaha, as well.  Another parish family reeling from the senseless violence.  And, unfortunately, there are seven others that have families that are hurting.  And the ministers of their congregations would all have similar things to share about them.  It’s the nature of living in community – of being a part of a family of families.

And all the hurt, all the suffering connects us together in a special way.  It makes us understand, in a profound and visceral way how St. Paul describes us as members of the one body of Christ.  

Please pray for all the Heartland Heroines & Heroes – and for the families they leave behind.  We love them and want to comfort them.  As they weep and mourn we taste the saltiness of their tears.  We wrap our arms about them, even from miles away. 

If you feel called, add a comment to this entry with a short prayer to honor them.  To honor our brothers and sisters:  Gary and John and Maggie and Angie and Beverly and Gary and Janet and Dianne. 

May perpetual light bathe them, and may they rest in the peace of Christ, our true King.

Categories: Commentary, Prayer | Leave a comment

Persistance in Prayer – Orans Position

Here is an excerpt from the homily I delivered this weekend – many people commented on the information regarding the orans position. 


Have you ever wondered what’s so special about lifting up his arms, anyway?  I think it’s simply a method of Moses praying for his people.  One of the things Moses did a lot of, was to intercede before Yahweh for the people.

Raising your arms is an ancient posture of prayer.  If you visit the catacombs outside of Rome you can still see today images of the first Christians standing with their arms outstretched in prayer.  We call it the “orans” position. Because it symbolizes lifting our prayers up to heaven, up to our God.

In Psalm 140 David described this kind of prayer beautifully, “Let my prayer come before you like incense, the raising of my hands like the evening offering.”  So this ancient orans position is at the very least 3,000 years old, maybe even 4,000 years old.

And that’s why Fr. Gary uses the orans position so often during Mass.  He’s offering the collective prayers of each of us to the Father.

I mentioned earlier that prayer was the most valuable thing we have as Christians.  As Catholics we can go one step further, and say that the Eucharist is the most valuable prayer that we have, period.

You see, we take absolutely serious Jesus command on Holy Thursday, do this in memory of me.  Or to use the more precise words from First Corinthians, “This chalice is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Now Jews drink wine every day – and so we celebrate Mass every day.  And Jews drink wine in a more festive, ritualized way on the Sabbath – and so we celebrate Sunday Mass with greater festivity and solemnity, with music and an extra reading, and so forth.

What makes the Eucharist so valuable is its completeness – the Eucharist is a sacred way to transcend time and to actually be with Jesus at the Last Supper, to be with Him during His Passion and death, and to rejoice in His resurrection from the dead.  All three of those components packed into one continuous prayer.

The Eucharist is special in another way, too.  It is a prayer that is offered by the Son to the Father, through the Holy Spirit.  A prayer that shows the love and connectedness of the Holy Trinity each and every time we participate in it.

Much of what is pre-figured in the Old Testament is perfected in the New.  The Last Supper that Jesus celebrated with his Apostles on Holy Thursday was a perfection, a completion of the Passover.  The sacrifice of a lamb for each family was perfected by the offering of the Lamb of God to the Father.  The instruction to place blood on the door frames and lintels was perfected by the blood that fell from the arm and the tree of the cross.

And the ancient manner of prayer – the way in which Moses lifted up his hands to assist his army; the way in which David lifted his hands before the Ark of the Covenant; the way in which the earliest Christians offered their prayers in the catacombs – this very posture was perfected by Jesus as well when He turned his wrists and had them nailed to the cross.

Jesus lived out Psalm 140 in the most beautiful and complete way:  Not only was his prayer like incense, his whole life was lifted up to the Father; not only were His hands raised like the evening offering, they became the eternal offering – the offering that redeemed the entire world.

So the next time you raise your arms in prayer, thank our Lord Jesus for the unique way that He stretched out his hands for love of you.

Categories: Homiletics, Prayer | Leave a comment

Job Pray-er II

This is an update to my previous entry, “Job Pray-er.”

I found out that my fourth friend was offered the job that he had interviewed for!

He had cleared two interviews when I wrote the previous post; and has since gone through two more last week.

He begins his new job tomorrow. I know he will do a great job, and I know it is a relief to him and his wife to find such a good fit for his qualifications and expertise.

Congratulations, Doug!

Categories: Prayer | Leave a comment

Job Pray-er

I have four friends that have recently been searching for new employment. I like to help people in such circumstances, so I always offer to pray for them, review resumes, etc.

In one of my previous corporate America jobs I hired a number of people, so I’ve read a few resumes in my day.

I like praying for such a need – and I know that it helps, too. Just knowing that others are concerned for you is reassuring. Feeling like you’re in it all alone is one of the things that makes looking for work stressful.

My friends are doing VERY well, here’s the results thus far:

  1. My first friend got the job she wanted, and it’s a nice change for her from her previous work. A nice fit for a great person, congrats, Mary!
  2. My second friend applied for and received a promotion at her current employer. She’s very excited about it, and I know she’ll do a wonderful job in her new position. You were made for this job, Erika – kudos to you!
  3. I’m delighted to report that my third friend (who has been out of work for nearly a year) was offered a good job with a future that he is a great fit for. I’m very proud of him, way to go, Cal!
  4. My fourth friend has been through two interviews for a position. He will need to interview with at least one more party to get the job. I’m very hopeful, as he’s eminently qualified for the position. I’ll continue praying for my friend, that he might have several positions to choose from. Why not pause a minute while reading this to pray for him too?

It can be very trying looking for a new job. If you know of anyone in such a situation, remind them that you are concerned about them, and offer to help in whatever way you can — especially through prayer.

Categories: Prayer | Leave a comment

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