Where is Your Fruit? Where are Your Roots?

During my high school and college years, I worked quite a few summers at a local feed and seed store here in Wichita, KS, which happens to also specialize in grass seed and lawn care products. And for those of you who have put in a new lawn at your own house or do so for a living, you know that well, it can be a pretty time-consuming process.

Not only do you have to pick the right grass seed and fertilizer, but you have to get the soil ready for planting, and then once the seed has been planted, you have to water, and water, and water it again…not just so that the grass will come up…but so that the roots will go deeper and deeper into the ground, because roots naturally follow the moisture…and without a good (deep) root system, that lawn won’t make it in a Kansas summer heat. Even then, we still have to water it at times.

Now your typical fescue lawn is probably the most common grass for Kansas lawns (OK, I know this sounds like a lawn and garden education class but stick with me). Your typical fescue lawn has roots that are about 12-14 inches deep into the ground…now that sounds somewhat deep…but if you’ve ever driven on Interstate I-35 between Wichita and  Kansas City, you’ve seen and driven through the Flint Hills…And the roots of the native grass on those hills, believe it or not, are 12-14 feet deep in the ground…and so because of their root system, they’re able to handle the summer’s heat (without sprinklers) and the winter’s cold so well…and that’s why native grass grows back even after a fire.

And so as I was reflecting on the Parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew’s Gospel (Ch 13), the question popped into my head: “Where are my roots? Where are the roots of my spiritual life? What type of soil is my soul? What kind of fruit am I producing?”

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Are You Ready to Answer the Ultimate Question?

If someone was to walk up to you today, someone of a different faith denomination or even of a different religion altogether, and ask you this question, how would you respond? How would you respond when they ask you the question: “Why are you Catholic?”

What would we say? How would we answer that?

Would we say, “Well, my family has always been Catholic, and so I’ve just continued that tradition…and it’s important to me.”

Or would we say, “Well, I’m Catholic because it’s where I really feel at home with my relationship with God.”

Or would we say, “I’m Catholic because I’ve come to realize how much God has to offer to me, through the Church, especially the graces that I can receive through the Sacraments. I’m Catholic because my faith is what keeps me on the right path in following our Lord Jesus Christ…and I’ve come to realize that I can’t get this anywhere else.”

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The Dark Backward: Demons in the Real World

When I agreed to do a story about demonic activity, possession, and exorcism for Crisis, I thought it would be fun—a spooky thrill. I’d write the article, warn about being too preoccupied with the subject matter, and be done. Instead, I got sleepless nights, horrifying conversations with those who have been involved in exorcisms, and a new point of view on the demonic world.

"The lunatic is on the grass. The lunatic is on the grass.”

It was an hour before midnight. Ten-year-old James was in his bedroom, alone, when he was suddenly gripped by terror. A Pink Floyd song rang out through the empty room. The radio turned on by itself.

“The lunatic is on the grass. The lunatic is in the hall.”

James lay paralyzed, locked in that helpless state that is itself as terrifying as whatever causes it. He wanted to move or cry out but couldn’t. So he just listened.

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Dynamics of Evangelization in the Catechumenate

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the most radical rite since Vatican II because it raises basic questions about our very roots (in Latin, our “radices”). The catechumenate journey makes us ask: what is evangelization, what is catechesis, what are conversion, faith, mission, and ministries, what is Church, who are your God and Christ? In raising those questions for new Christians, we raise them for all Christians. The vision of evangelization for catechumens presents a vision for all of us. What is that vision?

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Take Courage..."Do Not Be Ashamed of Your Testimony to Our Lord!"

St. Paul PreachingAs I was reflecting this week, at one point, the following words of St. Paul to Timothy really hit home for me:

“So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord…but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Timothy 1:8).

These words of St. Paul took me back about 9 years ago, to my last year of college.  In my last year at Kansas State University in Manhattan KS, I had the opportunity to work in the university’s financial aid office.  It was a good job, I had flexible hours to accommodate my class schedule, and I got to work with other students who were a lot of fun to be around.  But I will never forget one of the conversations that took place in that office one day, among the student workers.

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