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Grace and Golden Tickets

We are all a great deal luckier that we realize, we usually get what we want - or near enough.  ~ Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Just about everyone knows that the only way to get into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is with a Golden Ticket. According to the vision of Roald Dahl, you can’t enter the famous Chocolateer’s world of pure imagination without one. There are only five authentic tickets and they are hidden inside an ordinary Wonka Bar. The reclusive Wonka knows, the demand of chocolate-loving children will outweigh the supply of golden tickets and madness will likely ensue in sweet shops all around the world. Children everywhere push their parents to the brink of insanity with requests for more chocolate in hopes of winning the ultimate prize.

For the vast majority, their dream of touring the enchanted factory comes crashing down just as fast as their blood sugar levels, but the sugar rush is extended for the five Golden Ticket finders; Augustus Gloop, Viol…

Reach for Heaven, Not for Leprechauns

Our entire seventh grade class had been warned about our behavior. Instead of posing for a picture we decided to play a pickup game of basketball in the gym. We were reprimanded for being disobedient and defiant during our opportunity to take the traditional “incoming eighth graders class photo.” Our teacher, Mrs. Cullen was not only angry at our insubordination but also perturbed that the one photo she managed to take she thought we looked like “disheveled hooligans” instead of “nice Catholic school children.” Clearly, our picture was not making it into the St. Patrick’s Easter bulletin.

Now that she had managed to gain control of us again, we were about to be walked back to her classroom for more academic enrichment. Many of us, myself included, still had “the naughty giggles” and some left over energy from our unfinished game of basketball. This being evident, she said, “anyone who makes a sound on the way back to class will be punished”, as we started walking.

Personally, I was …

Contemplate on the Cross

Working as a Youth Minister and in Catholic Media, the Stations of the Cross has shaped my ministry. What began ten years ago as a youth ministry activity in need of a revitalization, has become a pillar and guidepost of my personal spirituality and public ministry. Thus the Stations of the Cross has been one of the favorite ways Patchwork Heart Ministry reaches out and touches hearts; presenting them in a dramatic stage production of Living Stations of the Cross, authoring two print editions of the Contemplative Stations of the Cross (2016 & 2018) and also an audio version featuring an overview of the theology, history and spirituality of the devotion by Fr. Bill Zimmer.

It almost goes without saying that the Stations of the Cross are a keystone of our ministry. Why? There are a few reasons. First, the passion, death and resurrection is what gives credibility to the claims of Christianity. If Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, didn’t sacrifice Himself for your sins, my sins and …

The Kingdom of God is Like a...Circus?

“We cannot all see alike, but we can all do good.” ~ P.T. Barnum Jesus used many analogies when he talked about the Kingdom of God. He likened Heaven to a hidden treasure, a landowner, a pearl of great price, a mustard seed, and many other things throughout His public ministry. One parable he never told was the Circus and the Kingdom of God, but He might have if P.T Barnum had lived in first-century Jerusalem.

The life of legendary entertainer Phineas T. Barnum was recently brought to the big screen by 20th Century Fox in the imaginative musical film The Greatest Showman. While the movie took many liberties in regards to historical accuracy, it highlighted some important spiritual principles from which we can learn and apply in our spiritual life. Barnum is portrayed as a disadvantaged visionary. While he is unsure of exactly how the gifts he possesses will unfold on the canvas of his life, he is certain that he is called to greatness. More importantly, he desires to share this visio…

The Adventures of Orange Beard & The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen. My grandfather was a fantastic storyteller. As children, when we stayed overnight at his house he would tell us the most amazing bedtime stories. His most famous and memorable fable was that of the legendary swashbuckler “Orange Beard.” The fictitious pirate’s klutzy adventures were kept afloat by our giggles. My Pop’s boundless imagination provided just enough wind for his sails each night. The entertaining tales also taught us about what it meant to live with honor and virtue, help those i…

Gifts that Keep Giving

‘What day is it?’ ‘It's today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh. ~A.A Milne A few years ago during the Christmas Season my family sat down to watch old videos of previous Christmas day celebrations. One of the more memorable moments was watching the video where my brother and I opened the original Sony PlayStation console. There was a lot of screaming, celebrating, dancing and merrymaking as we received the hottest gift on the planet from Santa. Today, that PlayStation is long forgotten, its games are outdated and neither my little brother nor myself can remember whether we sold, misplaced or buried the console in a box marked “basement”; but watching that moment on film was a lot of fun for my family as we laughed at our original excitement and childhood exuberance. Our joy was a greater gift than the PlayStation. 
As I reflect upon the readings for today, I can’t help but notice how the scriptures are reminding us to recognize how spiritually rich we are in the pre…

Giving Thanks

No one has ever become poor by giving.
~ Anne Frank This week our nation pauses to allow us to give thanks in a big way. Offices will be closed, roads and airports will be jammed as people prepare for the largest family meal of the year. Many of us go to great lengths to cross over the rivers and navigate through the woods so we can share in this extravagant meal with our loved ones. It is worth competing with the crowds because we have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Coming together to share the year’s blessings and successes helps us to reap the rich harvest of joys which constantly surround us and at times we take for granted.

Take a moment to think about all of the things you have said a cursory “thanks” for this year. Every time someone has held a door for you, you've probably murmured it, or mumbled it to the barista at your favorite coffee shop after they prepared your favorite drink, maybe you have even composed a thankful tweet or sent a snap this year and dre…