One of the chores that my little brother and I were given as children by our dad was mowing the lawn. The agreed-upon rate at the time was a whopping $1 each time we mowed the lawn. After several weeks we would have enough money to buy a pack of trading cards at the store.
There came a certain point in my adolescence when I realized that many of my friends at school were making twenty times my measly $1 for cutting the lawn, and so I went to my dad in protest. In typical fatherly fashion, Dad recounted how when he was young, the only money he and his younger brother made cutting grass was from cutting the neighbors’ yards; cutting their own yard was, to quote my grandmother, “the rent for living in her house.”READ MORE
In my short time as a priest (I will celebrate my fifth anniversary in December), some of the most powerful moments have been accompanying death row inmates at the Polunsky unit in Livingston, Texas. About a year ago, I was able to celebrate Mass with one such inmate the night before his execution. This inmate, Kosoul Chanthakoummane, had been convicted of the murder of Dallas real estate agent Sarah Walker in July of 2006.READ MORE
I was recently at a local barbershop getting my hair cut when one of the barber’s customers immediately identified me as a priest. As often happens, an interesting conversation — or rather an interesting monologue — ensued: thoughts about problems with contemporary America, the state of public education, the effects of technology and social media on Gen Z and Gen Alpha, etc. The conversation eventually led to our different Christian denominations, and something that this other gentleman in the barbershop said stuck with me. He assured me that one’s particular denomination is of no import, because “God is a God of love.” “Man made religion,” he declared with absolute confidence before correcting himself, “No! The devil made religion!”READ MORE
Simon, having received his new name “Peter” after his confession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, the “rock on which he will build his Church” (Mt 16:18), almost immediately receives a very different title from Jesus: “Satan.” Jesus, of course, uses this title with its traditional meaning: an “opposer” or “adversary,” telling Simon Peter: “You are a stumbling block (σκάνδαλον) to me, for you are not on the side of God, but of men.” (Mt 16:23) The same disciple who five verses prior was named the “rock” on which Christ would build his church has become a “stumbling block.”READ MORE