He May Be Calling You Next

5th Sunday Ordinary Time (Feb 10, 2013)

Is 6:1-2a, 3-8

Ps 138

1 Cor 15:1-11

Lk 5:1-11

God calls sinners to do His work. For example, look at the three men mentioned in today’s readings: Isaiah shakes in fear because he has seen the Lord with his own eyes but admits he is a man of unclean lips. Paul was one of the fiercest persecutors of Christians. Peter, a self-professed sinner, begs his Lord to depart from him due to his unworthiness. What is God’s response? He purifies Isaiah’s lips with hot coal, humbles Paul by knocking him off his high horse turning him into one of the greatest promoters of Christianity and tells Peter to not be afraid. That is because God knows our true potential better than we do. He calls us sinners to a conversion experience and then sends us out to do His work without accepting our excuses.

I recently had the honor and joy to lead a group of 18 from St. Andrew’s to March For Life in Washington, DC this past January.

Our group from St. Andrew Catholic Church

Our group from St. Andrew Catholic Church

March For Life has been held every year since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States 40 years ago. It is the largest gathering of it’s kind in the entire world where people come together to show their support for the Gospel of Life. Not even snow flurries or 28-degree weather was able to keep us away. It was an experience that has forever changed my life. The odd thing was that the entire time I was on the trip, I couldn’t help think to myself, “how in the world did I end up here considering my past…considering my excuses!”

You see…just like Isaiah, Paul and Peter, God calls each one of us to greatness. I’m not talking about greatness in terms you may think of…money, fame or having the newest iPhone. I’m talking about hearing God’s call and following it no matter where it leads us.

I wasn’t raised Catholic. I was baptized in a Lutheran church as an infant and then eventually attended a Presbyterian church throughout my youth. At some point in high school my Sunday church attendance was, well, let’s just say spotty at best. God was not very important in my life and I rarely spoke of Him or to Him. My parents did a great job raising me, but I put more faith in the information I learned in the school locker room, which allowed me to make my share of dumb decisions. After all, at that time in my life my parents didn’t know anything. I had all the answers! Never in those days would I have ever imagined saying yes to God calling me to the Catholic Church and eventually saying yes to being ordained a Catholic Deacon and working in youth ministry.

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Deacon John (left) and myself at the Vigil Mass

As a Catholic Deacon, God calls me to speak the truth and live out the Gospel at all times. I’m a servant of His Church and am bound to profess ALL that the Catholic Church teaches. Some would say this is a burden, but I say it is freeing! God already made the laws, He already told us what is good and bad, but He leaves it up to us to decide which path to follow. I now know my path because I follow the teachings of the Church the best I can. I am still a sinner, but now when I fall, I get back up, march into the confessional and try to start over. That is the greatness that God is calling each and every one of us to achieve. Choosing to follow the good in life, and be willing to admit when we are wrong. Want to know a secret?? God doesn’t call perfect people to spread His Gospel. He calls sinners and in the process turns them into saints!

It didn’t take much to hear God’s call or feel His presence at March For Life. Being there made me appreciate how beautiful life and our Catholic faith truly is. It’s humbling to see people marching around carrying signs that read, “Conceived from rape…I love my life!” or “I regret my abortion!” or “I regret lost fatherhood!Youth n23My favorite slogan was on a sweatshirt. It read, “I survived Death Roe but 55 million didn’t” with a picture of a baby. In this instance the “Roe” from “Death Roe” is referring to the 1973 court case Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion in our country. I was born in 1977, which means my mother had the legal right to end my life by abortion but thankfully choose life. I’m part of the 75%. One fourth of pregnancies today end in abortion, which means 25% of my generation never saw life outside the womb. I’m one of the lucky ones.

This is not about Democrats, Republicans or Independents. This is more than politics or even religion; it’s about human rights! We live in a country that at one point in time allowed slavery, treated foreigners like trash, locked up the mentally challenged and disabled, turned the other way when it came to spousal abuse or child abuse and thought the color of your skin determined your value. Today, these things are NOT tolerated in any situation! That’s because it took brave people like Blessed Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. to stand up and so NO!

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Now it’s our turn! It’s our turn to be the voice for the unborn! This is the legacy my generation is being called to witness to. This is the message of March For Life. We need to stand up and say NO to the culture of death! In the words of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, we need to “stop thinking that abortion is a necessary evil, and realize it’s just plain evil.” If we can’t get this one right, we don’t stand a chance against other evils like pornography, human trafficking or euthanasia to name just a few!

But here’s the good news…the tides are changing! Right now, more young Americans identify themselves as pro-life than ever before.  That was the joy that brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion during our pilgrimage to March For Life. Seeing all of the young people coming together in such great numbers. 13,000 people attended the Vigil Mass at the great Basilica in Washington, DC together with 1,000 clergy and seminarians….

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6,000 attended the Youth Mass and Rally at George Mason University, which was only one of several locations hosting a Youth Mass and Rally….

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650,000 people came together to march on the streets in support of life during that cold January day….

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The majority of these people were young adults!

God is calling each and every one of us to greatness. Right at this very second, God is looking down from His thrown in heaven asking, “Whom shall I send? Who will I call to be the next disciple to promote My Gospel of Life?” BE NOT AFRAID…He’s not looking at your past or your worthiness; He’s looking at your potential! So be ready…He may be calling YOU next!

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March For Life 2013

I was in the crypt church under the main sanctuary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. All the deacons were putting on their albs and stoles on one side while the priests and seminarians were vesting on the other side. Basillica 21The beauty of the crypt church was breathtaking, but it was hard to move around due to the large number of people. The anticipation was building as the clock approached 6:30pm to begin the Vigil Mass. The massive organ started playing upstairs and instantly everyone in the crypt church went silent. 500 seminarians lead the procession up the stairs to the main sanctuary. The 80 deacons (myself included) slowly followed behind them but in front of the 395 priests, 42 bishops and 5 cardinals. We were lead up a dark, narrow staircase. I knew the main church would be full of people, but coming up from those stairs into the main sanctuary literally took my breath away. Wall to wall people…

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…all looking at us with smiles on their faces and many with tears in their eyes. As I ascended the steps up to the altar, it felt like I was walking straight up to heaven. The beauty of the high altar…

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…the gorgeous artwork on the walls…

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…and ceiling…

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…along with the 13,000 people singing in unison was a moment I’ll never forget. I couldn’t help but get a little emotional as I tried to take it all in and realized we were all there to show our support to the Gospel of Life.

The next day we started with a Youth Mass at George Mason University. 6,000 people (mostly young adults) packed the Patriot Center…

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…while my favorite musician Matt Maher sang the processional song…

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Although the procession wasn’t as long as the Vigil Mass, it was equally powerful. I’ve never seen so much excitement on the faces of all those young adults at a Mass before. It’s like they knew God had called them to be present at that moment in time to spread the joy of the Gospel to others.

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After Mass, we boarded the bus, got our Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and headed downtown for the March For Life. When the bus arrived downtown, we unloaded and immediately saw a sea of people and pro-life signs everywhere. It was a chaperone’s nightmare to realize I had to keep track of 18 people in a crowd of 650,000! Youth n41Once we got on the street and joined the March, all my fears went away. It was a true moment of joy to join together with so many people for the Pro-Life cause. We slowly, but cheerfully made our way up Capitol Hill to the steps of the Supreme Court with snow blowing in our faces. We then made it back to our bus, headed to the Youth Rally and ended the day with the most powerful Eucharistic Adoration I’ve ever experienced.

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After experiencing such a powerful March For Life pilgrimage, my prayer is that I’ll never have to do it again…because the entire country will catch the passion I shared with so many others on that pilgrimage and we will end abortion forever!

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