Friday, September 28, 2012

Basketball and the Spiritual Life

Since June, I have been pondering about an idea concerning my own spiritual journey. Last night, I had the notion to watch the movie “Hoosiers” starring Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey which helped me to recall my spiritual journey thoughts from June.

While shooting baskets on retreat, I was imagining some teammates that might be playing with me. Except, I was not thinking of basketball greats that you might be thinking of at this point like Peyton Siva or Michael Jordan. I immediately made a connection to my spiritual life and my own team. This is no ordinary team and by no means is it a dream. Rather, it is reality. So, I am announcing the line-up to my spiritual team.

Point Guard: Jason Harris – Because of God’s great gift of free will, I must call the plays based on the will and desire of the Coach.

Guard: St. James – first hand witness to the transfiguration and the healing of Jairus’ daughter and known as one of the Sons of Thunder.

Small Forwards: St. Anthony – when there is trouble or hope is lost he can help find and restore things.

Power Forward: St. Francis – when the game gets tough he helps to bring peace and sense of beauty back to the situation.

Center: St. Michael the Archangel – when there are lots of ‘missed shots’ Michael gets the rebounds and helps to put the team back into play

Head Coach: Jesus – always turn to the coach for a reminder of the game plan and the support that you need

Assistant Coach: Mary – works with the team when the strength is lacking

Trainer/Manager: St. Joseph – provides the materials and extra support needed to be effective and to move the team to the next location.

This team always plays zone because there is no way that any of the team can do it alone. Particularly, when we are playing a daily match with the forces of evil, the game cannot be played alone. Just like in the movie ‘Hoosiers’, Coach Norm modifies and teaches the team a new mentality of playing and working together. Coach talks with the team and finds some motivation to keep them playing. Jesus does the same thing for us by finding ways to encourage us, but we have to TALK and LISTEN to the coach.

Who is on your team? The team is ready to play. Are YOU on your team? Don’t forget to go to practice this week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking time to reflect...

Each semester at my school, we spend one Friday Evening and a Friday Evening through Saturday morning in a period of reflection or mini-retreat. These miniature retreats give the seminary community a chance to pray together in silence with the Lord and take a break from the busy schedule. I must admit that many times I have found myself thinking "I have so much reading to get done, that I don't have time to reflect." After the period of reflection though, I always find a peace and a new nugget of faith that sustains. It always pays great dividends to spend time with the Lord and allow him to dialogue with us in prayer.

This past Friday night was one such opportunity. Fr. McKnight, who works for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, gave us a great reflection upon this upcoming "Year of Faith" which Pope Benedict has announced. For one particular part of the reflections, Father made reference to the "Elijah and the Broom Tree" story (see 1 Kings 19:1-8). Elijah is depicted as laying under this tree in utter despair of his life troubles. He asks the Lord to take his life and be done with him. An Angel of the Lord comes to Elijah not once, not twice, but three times to nourish him for the next part of his journey.

You know that we have all heard this story many, many times. But, we are continually nourished and enriched by the same story countless times because we are never the same person. We are constantly changing and growing. I believe that is what this story is speaking to me. We are on a continuous journey and God continues to nourish and feed us for the next part of the journey. Many times, we all have said "Enough Lord, Enough." If we are patient and faithful, the LORD will always answer that plea with whatever is needed so that we might continue on to our heavenly destiny.

Picture Credit:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Parish Family

Today I am thinking again about what I left off with in my introductory letter to you last time: Parish Family. The cause of this reflection comes from my visit to the parish that I have worked with for the past 30 months. The parish, St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Washington DC near the Capitol Building, has served the downtown Washington area for the past 152 years. After a confluence of issues, the Jesuits felt they could no longer adequately serve this small, remnant parish community. This Sunday was their final mass before the parish merger with a neighboring parish community.

One of the themes that the pastor, Fr. Clifford, highlighted during the mass was the witness of Saints and how we witness, through our lives, as Saints on the Journey. Father pointed out how important it was to come together and support each other on this journey. Children also need this good witness of Christians surrounding. I believe this applies to all of our faith communities. Our Christian-Catholic Brothers and Sisters surround us each Sunday as great witnesses of the faith, even in all our brokenness. Parish families become the only family for many people when they are miles and miles away from home or are the only surviving member of their kinfolk. I know that I have received great blessings and support from all the Saints around me in my blood family and my parish families.

The other amazing point that really hit me today was the church building and what really makes up church. For the Aloysius Parish, they continue to mourn the loss of their sacred worship space. In a town hall meeting earlier this year, many people pointed to the front of the church and said “I was baptized right there twenty years ago” or “My wife and I introduced ourselves to each other for the first time in that pew.” The space does hold such great meaning for us. But, we can never fail to remember that it We, the People of God, that make up the church. Buildings are great and give glory to God, but we give greater glory and can show our faith everywhere we travel.

The closing song for today’s final Aloysius mass had a magnificent line that serves for all of us to recall and remember this week: “You ought to tell somebody. Go and be a witness for the Lord.” We are Christian-Catholics 24 - 7 - 365 and not just on the 52 Sundays of the year. May the Peace of Christ be with you and your family today and always. Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bringing Christ to Others

On September 14 2012, over 480 youth, adult sponsors, youth ministers, parish staff people, pastors and members of religious communities gathered at St. Gabriel Catholic Church for our annual event, "Dinner with the Archbishop." It was a night of prayer, friendship and exploring how God calls each of us.  As part of the evening, the Vocation Office, with the support of Spalding Hurst, Sr. Nancy Gerth and the SCN family put together a video focusing on our CSA theme of "Bringing Christ to Others."  We asked clergy, religious and lay ecclesial ministers just how they bring Christ to others. We are deeply thankful for the gifts and talents that they share with our Archdiocese.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet Our Fall Blogger...

"But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves." (James 1:22)

The first step in any adventure is to receive the necessary instructions that ensure your trip will be safe, exciting, and fun.  St. James reminds us that the Lord offers us the necessary instructions for our life adventure.  But, we can never just be satisfied with receiving the instructions.  The Lord expects us to take the graciously given gifts and become who God intended for our lives. "Behold what you are, become what you receive." (St. Augustine)

My name is Jason Harris, seminarian for our Archdiocese of Louisville.  I am privileged to be the seminarian author of the blog for this semester. Thanks for following along on my journey as I begin 2nd Theology (which is my 4th year of Seminary school).  This year has already gotten off to a remarkably fast start.  It is truly amazing how God continues to work in each of our lives, so long as we slow down a second to see his awesome work. I hope to share some of His awesome work in my life with you this semester.

As I mentioned earlier, I am beginning my fourth year of Theology Study at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.  Before entering seminary, I taught Henry County (Kentucky) middle schools students in the areas of math and science for nine years.  I cherish the experience of teaching my students, living and growing with them. Now, I watch as they start families and careers which make me continue to marvel at the work of God.

 I am originally from Grandview Indiana, which is a small town near Owensboro (Kentucky). My parents, Jim and Judith Harris, along with my Grandmother Bernice and her husband Red, still reside in my hometown. My sister, Jill, now lives in Louisville and just purchased a new house in the Highlands.

My home parishes are the Church of the Annunciation in Shelbyville, Kentucky and St. John Chrysostom in Eminence, Kentucky.  The rebirth of my Catholic faith started there amongst my parish families.  My faith journey has also been nurtured by my other parish families of St. Michael (Jeffersontown), Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Christ the King (Louisville).

 I look forward to sharing with you throughout the semester.  I have always wanted to be a journal writer and recording my thoughts over an extended period of time.  But, I have never persisted.  I am so anxious to look back at Christmas time and see this semester's journey in its entirety.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you and your families.

Peace in Christ,
Jason Harris