A moment with the Pope

pope   “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Back in 1998, we brought a large group over to Rome for the Feast of Pentecost.  We were scheduled to have a special rosary with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican Gardens, but the crowds in St. Peter’s square rushed towards the gate when it opened for our group, so the Swiss Guards asked if we could form a human chain to keep the crowds under control.  Our guys volunteered for the job, and before long the guards were about to close the gates because the garden area was completely full.  Our guys offered to wait outside to control the crowds and to help lead everyone in a rosary on the steps of St. Peter’s along with Fr. Anthony Bannon, LC.  This was a tough sacrifice, but they did it with a great spirit.

Two days later, we went to a Papal audience in St. Peter’s Square and as we entered the plaza, a Swiss Guard came up to me and mentioned that he could open up the barricade for our group, because the Pope would be driving right down this particular aisle. One hour later, the Pope drove down that aisle and most of our kids were able to touch him and see him up close.  Our little act of charity did not go unnoticed by God!

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I’m against it

taxesIt is the season of local elections in my quiet Chicago suburb.  In a few days, we’ll be voting for board members for an elementary school district, high school district, junior college, park district and library board.  There are others, but I’d have to look at the sample ballot to remember them all.

All the candidates have two things in common:

  1. They claim to support prudent spending.
  2. They want to expand programs and buildings.

I’m no financial genius, but it is difficult to reconcile these two approaches.  Having said that, the elementary school district uses a novel approach.  They claim that if I vote for their bond proposal my taxes will go down.  This is a remarkable twisting of the facts, likely to be difficult to follow, but I’ll try to explain. Continue reading

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Every day I speak to you to tell you how much I love you

As I sat down to order my thoughts, I started to think of what it was that I wanted these girls to come away with after listening to me for half an hour. It was my first time having such a good chunk of time to share my vocational testimony, and the first speaking as a consecrated during vocations week at a school, so I didn’t have other rehearsed speeches to choose from. It came to me that I could talk about how Jesus has more than fulfilled all his promises to me, how he helped me grow little by little from being afraid to hear his voice to trusting him, or how happy and fulfilled he has made me in every one of my decisions to try to follow his will for me… Because all of that is very true, and I did talk about all those themes.

But then I tried to remember what I had wanted to hear when I listened to consecrated or religious sisters give their testimonies at my school when I was the same age as these girls, and honestly, it wasn’t any of that. Over and over throughout so many years and circumstances I heard people telling me that it is worth the risk to trust Jesus, that his will is what will make me truly happy, and the big winner- how he can’t be outdone in generosity. And over and over I faced (and ran from) my vocational questions with a fear of what God might ask of me. But when I was most glued to every word (while trying not to show it, of course) was when someone would start to give me clues about HOW I KNOW IF GOD IS REALLY SPEAKING TO ME?? Continue reading

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7 Tips for a Strong Marriage

  1. maggiageGod needs to be at the center: The focus should be centered on loving God above all things and growing in this love as a couple.  My mom recently said to me, “Michael, if you love God how can anything be hard?”  If the Lord is accompanying and blessing your marriage, it will bear fruit.  I also recommend praying for each other, especially when you know your spouse is going through some hard times.

2. Marital intimacy
– This is way that most men connect and communicate with women…they need this validation.  It should not be used as a weapon to punish your spouse (unless there is a really serious reason) or as a means of manipulation to obtain what you desire.  It does not always have to be romantic and a big production, but it is a critical component for a healthy relationship.
– Men need to understand that for most women, this is an act of charity towards their husbands and they generally find more validation in emotional and conversational connection and affirmation.  It is easier for a wife to meet his physical intimacy needs, if her emotional needs are also being met.  Continue reading

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Thanks mom!

mom“Doing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great.”  – St. Francis De Sales.

It was a little thing, but it meant a lot to me and my 2 brothers.  Whenever a major winter storm hit in Michigan, my brothers and I would gather up our shovels and spend the day shoveling our own long driveway and then our neighbors for a few dollars.  It was cold, the snow was heavy, and at the end of the day our backs were aching and arms were sore.   As we walked in the door, my mom greeted us with a warm smile and a huge mug of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows floating at the top.  The pain seemed to melt away.  Thanks mom!!

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leadersThere are many moments when hearing this motto gives me goosebumps. This weekend, I know it brought me to tears. But the thing is, it wasn´t only from an audible cheer.

The first weekend of February I was blessed to be able to attend the National Convention for ECyD team leaders in Salamanca. Over ninety team leaders, both boys and girls, about thirty Legionaries, consecrated, and Regnum Christi missionaries reunited from Valencia, Sevilla, Madrid, and Barcelona. Twenty Legionary novices warmly welcomed us into their home. All of it made for a weekend of true family spirit. (See the video.) Continue reading

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Something happened…in the heart

heartSomething happened on the way to the Regnum Christi Formators’ Convention.

Not on the trip to Mundelein Seminary, but in the weeks and months of preparation for the event.

Quietly. Unknown to all of us.

This convention had been conceptualized two-and-a-half years ago as the ceremony to celebrate the work of God in the lay RC members through the renewal of their statutes.

Two years of prayer, discussion, deliberation and articulation produced a ‘word-portrait’ of the vocation to Regnum Christi- a statute. One section of these statutes outlined the five dimensions of the life of a lay RC member: the spiritual life, formation, team life, mission and personal accompaniment. This convention was meant to be an exposition of the depth of those themes and the new clarity we have in concretely living them. Continue reading

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Our mother is waiting

lady“God calls us through what happens during our day… He calls us to identify with Him and carry out His divine mission – right where He finds us.” – St. Jose Maria Escriva

Last week we stumbled upon a shrine to Our Lady in Kingstree, South Carolina. It’s located an hour north of Charleston. The county is the size of Rhode Island and yet there is only one Catholic parish! However, “Our Lady of Hope” has become a place of pilgrimage for Christians of all denominations.

What burden are you carrying? Please give it to Jesus through His Mother. She is waiting to help you.

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THAT was a convention!

conventionHere are the top 10 reasons I really enjoyed the Regnum Christi Convention this past weekend.

  1. In involved more than 300 close friends, some old and some new.
  2. It was held at Mundelein Seminary, which is historic, scenic, peaceful, welcoming – and has pretty good food.
  3. They have a fancy gizmo that will make you a cup of coffee whenever you like.
  4. Mundelein is only 33.8 miles from my house, an easy drive, so I didn’t have to fly into O’Hare, stand in long lines and deal with grumpy TSA agents. And the airlines didn’t have the opportunity to lose my luggage.
  5. They have a grand piano in the “social” room and I got to play a little jazz during happy hour – and nobody booed or left the room in a huff, covering their ears.
  6. There was Mass each day and there is an amazing chapel.
  7. The Holy Hour Saturday night was breathtaking.
  8. The convention was well organized and – believe it or not – things ran on time.
  9. The speakers were fantastic: inspiring, honest, helpful, real.
  10. I realized that our renewal has worked and will continue to work, as we continue to strengthen our love for Christ and share that love with others.

We have experienced a profound journey in Regnum Christi.  It is a journey none of us would have selected.  But today, I’m grateful for this often-painful path – and especially for those who have shared it with me.

For a wealth of pictures and videos from the convention, visit the Regnum Christi Facebook Page.


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Reporter at the limit

reporterUntil a few days ago, I had never heard of a CNN program called “Believer – with Reza Aslan.”  But a headline about the show was so startling that I read the article and did a little research.

The headline:  Reza Aslan eats human brain on new CNN show ‘Believer’.

I’m not making this up; it is a real show and the “reporter” really ate human brain.  This begs the question of how far a reporter will go for a story, how much must a reporter experience to share with readers or viewers the “truth.” Continue reading

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