Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Today is Ordinary

How many hallelujahs will it take for you get in line
When will you ever learn from your mistakes boy you gotta try
Deadlines and progress 
Just being honest 
You can do what you want with your time
I don’t wanna waste mine
No, I don’t wanna waste mine

- Needtobreathe, Wasting Time

Last week we concluded the Christmas season and have officially moved into Ordinary Time within the Church's liturgical calendar. Candidly, prior to last week I had assumed that this meant "non-special" times throughout the year.




However, our Church terms this time "ordinary" not because it isn't special, but because it is numbered in a sequential fashion. The Second Week in Ordinary Time. Thursday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time. The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This new understanding of Ordinary Time struck me: God has numbered our time. Instead of a feeling of discouragement, this left me encouraged. It inspired me. The time we have to do the work that God has called us to do has a limit.

Let's go.

In the high school environment, we only have our students for 4 years; even less with students who transfer after 9th grade. We only get 180 instructional days each year - actually even less when we factor in "non-instructional" days/moments with students - retreats, pictures, service projects, early dismissals, assemblies! There are only so many minutes in an instructional period, which also get squandered for announcement interruptions, classroom management issues, and a lack of preparedness.

Every moment matters. Each one is sacred, holy, incarnational and not just because they are limited but because they are the gifts from God. 

That's why we call right now the present. 

Let's make the most of our borrowed time (if you want to go deeper on this theme, you can check this post out: 

St. Josemaria Escriva popularized the heroic minute as getting out of bed precisely after your alarm sounds. In St. Josemaria's own words, the heroic minute is “the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body” (The Way, no. 206).

While I am infamous for snoozing, I have tried to extrapolate St. Josemaria's motto to include any moment of the day. 

Send the email/text. Make the phone call. Take the stairs. Sing. Pray. Hold the door. Pick up trash. Smile. Repent. Forgive. Hug. Try again. Put down your device. Pick up your head. Live from your heart. 

Respond to the whispers and promptings and urgings of the Holy Spirit and take action.


Today may be ordinary - numbered - but that is precisely why it is the perfect moment to be heroic. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Deliver Me

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas! May the joyful hope and everlasting peace of the birth of Christ fill this new calendar year with renewed missionary purpose and visionary anticipation!

During prayer and reflection at the conclusion of Advent and throughout the Christmas season thus far, the message "deliver me" has surfaced over and over.

It really hit home when this song - one that I had never heard before - popped up on my feed. 

Deliver Him. To the world. To my family. To my friends. At my work. Throughout my life. 

Deliver the Gospel message.

Deliver Christ so that Emmanuel - God with us - truly comes.  

Especially now that Christmas for most is neatly sealed and put away until November 1, 2024, deliver Him. Like the theologian Howard Thurman notes in his poem, "The Work of Christmas" this is when the work of Christmas begins: 
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart. 

John the Baptist declared, "Make straight the way of the Lord." Mother Mary received the angel Gabriel's invitation, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." Angels sang glory to God declaring the birth of our Savior. The shepherds returned to their flocks glorifying and praising God. Mary and Joseph presented the infant Christ in the temple. Joseph, being warned in a dream, led the Holy Family to Egypt.

John delivered the news that the Messiah's coming was imminent. Mary delivered Christ into the world. The angels and shepherds delivered the Good News of Christ's birth beyond the stable. Mary and Joseph delivered Jesus to the temple, dedicating Him back to His Heavenly Father. Joseph delivered the Holy Family from the dangers of remaining in Israel.

These scriptural messages, coupled with the tasks of the season - delivering Christmas cards, delivering presents, delivering cookies, delivering lights and trees and ornaments and Christmas music and Christmas sweaters - have inspired me to take up this invitation from God this year:

"Deliver Me."

Let us deliver the hope, peace, joy and love of Christ's birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension to our communities, our cities, our states, our countries, and our world this year and always.

And, as we deliver Christ to a world in desperate need of rediscovering itself, may our Deliverer deliver us. 

May my Deliverer - Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God - deliver me

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Culture of Faith

“Evangelization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into consideration the actual people to whom it is addressed, if it does not use their language, their signs and symbols, if it does not answer the questions they ask, and if it does not have an impact on their concrete life.”

-Pope St. Paul VI, 1975

Throughout this Advent, my family and I have spent time learning more about the saints whose feasts we celebrate therein. From St. Nicholas, to St. Ambrose, to the Immaculate Conception, to San Juan Diego, to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to St. Lucy, to St. John of the Cross, we have had amble time to (even during this abbreviated liturgical season) to dig into and pray with these holy women and men. 

While I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to know more about each of these various saints, my takeaways from feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe continue to stir my soul. 

I knew the story about Our Lady appearing to Juan Diego. I had heard, many times, about the roses and the image that appeared on his tilma and the bishop's disbelief and the subsequent conversion of more than 9 million people within ten years of this apparition. I had even heard that Mother Mary appeared to Juan Diego as a woman indigenous to the area. 

All of this is amazing and repeating the sounding joy of these facts reinforced my love for and devotion to Jesus's Mother and my Catholic faith. 

This year, however, the Lord blessed me with new knowledge. 

Well, more specifically, this year's feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe filled me with a greater sense of mystery. It provided me with an even deeper understanding of just how creative and wild and awe-inspiring and wonderfully wonder-filling our God is. 

I won't list out all of the ways in which God masterfully blended Mater Dei (the Mother of God) and the Aztec and Spanish cultures in order to declare that He is the one, true God, and that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to fully communicate His plan of salvation for all of humanity. 

If you don't know about the stars, and the black band, and Our Lady's foot, and the Aztec symbols on her mantle, and the astounding qualities of the coloring and the temperature of the tilma and its longevity, see the image below and/or watch this video:    

The mysterious miracles surrounding Our Lady's appearance and St. Juan Diego's tilma confound me. 

Much like the 16-year-old version of myself who doubted my English teacher's insights about the meaning of poems, it takes immense faith to believe these findings. 

Another key takeaway: God, through Jesus's Mother Mary, used the local culture to impart faith. From the symbols on Mary's covering to the stars on her mantle to her foot slightly forward (a posture of dancing!) to the two codexes in the image, so much of what attracted people at the time and continues to pull people into this beautiful mystery is that it taps into and uses the local Aztec and Spanish Christians cultures in a way that harmonizes the two and points them to Jesus (for some specifics, watch the clip below): 

May we, like Our Lady of Guadalupe, embrace our culture and point it toward Christ. At a time when the world is clouded by a post-Christian mentality, instead of pulling further away from the current culture and cancelling it, may we pull it closer to our loving hearts and introduce it - again - to the love and mercy and hope and joy of Jesus Christ.

A culture of faith entails using the "language...signs and symbols" of particular people. A culture of faith answers the "questions they ask" and shows how it has "an impact on their concrete life” (St. Pope Paul VI, 1975). 

A culture of faith is in the world and of the world. 

A culture of faith is of heaven and earth. United. Harmonious. Together. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 12, 2023


One of my favorite Christmas songs is For King and Country's rendition of "Little Drummer Boy."

As my kids will attest to, I love when songs have strong percussion elements. This version has it in spades. 

While we can see the "Little Drummer Boy" as being defined solely by his drumming ability - hence the name of the song - the arc of the song's lyrics demonstrate that the boy has set off with others to see the new born King and to offer their gifts to Him. 

This journey - to see and offer gifts worthy of a King - inspires the boy to offer his gift of drumming at the service of the King. The song's message centers not on what the boy can offer, but rather Who he offers it to. 

The final scene of the video linked above shows the boy leaving behind that which we might think defines him, his drum, at the feet of Baby Jesus. 

I hope and pray that I might be able to do the same. 

Pa rum pum pum pum.

Over the course of my life, I have too often identified who I am in light of what I do - my gifts and abilities, my activities, and my profession - instead of Whose I am - God's beloved child. Similarly, as a Catholic educator, I have definitely been guilty of the sin of idolizing my ministry. 

Foolishly, I have fallen into the trap of basing my worth on my work, my value on my victories, my dignity on my deeds. 

Providence, though, has broken through the fragile shell of my ego at multiple points throughout my life to shatter these misconceptions. While I can still get caught up in equating my importance with my impact, I anchor my life in the idea that I am called to lay down my "drum" at the feet of my King.  

The motto of St. Benedict, Ora et Labora provides a helpful mode of operating to stave off the worship of work. Meaning Prayer and Work in English, St. Benedict intended for these dual actions, prayer and work, to combine in such a way that our entire lives become an offering

Instead of viewing the prayer of my heart and the work of my mind and hands as separate and compartmentalized, St. Benedict encourages a synthesis of these two behaviors so that the entirety of one’s life becomes an offering up to God. As such, every part of my life - my work, my recreation, my leisure, my scholarship, my ministry, my prayer - becomes an act of worship. Intentionally inviting God into each moment of my life and making it into an offering to Him to do with it what He wills, humbly transforms the fullness of who I am into a gift, opportunities to serve Him and others, and pathways to grow closer to Him.

As we continue to march through this Advent season toward the birth of our King on Christmas, may we offer to Him all that we are and all that we can do.

May we, through the work of our hands and the prayers of our hearts, make of ourselves an offering that's fit to give our King. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Building Leaders, Forming Servers

Yesterday, the Catholic Church celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. In light of this celebration, my prayer focused on how faithfully I serve my King. I was reminded of a powerful reflection I heard a few years ago about how Jesus never called anyone to lead. Instead, His invitation was to follow

Ever since then, I have bucked against a secular view of the importance of leadership, acknowledging that my King and my God has called me to service. 

I recently read the Harvard Business Review Leader's Handbook: Make an Impact, Inspire Your Organization, and Get to the Next Level (Ashkenas and Manville, 2018). In it, the authors pose the six most important qualities and behaviors - termed "practices" by the authors - of effective leaders. Seen through this frame of serving Christ the King, all of these practices emulate Christ's ministry here on earth. 

As such, they are worthy of being followed

Build a Unifying Vision
The first practice of impactful leaders involves building a unifying vision for the organization. Connected to this important picture of the future, the organization's mission plays a pivotal role in determining where it should head. Whereas the vision centers on the organization's aspirations, the mission functions as its reason for existing. When combined, the mission and vision serve as the vehicle (the mission) and the destination (the vision) for an organization.

Taking time to consider our missions acts as the starting point to crafting compelling visions for our futures. Continue to keep the mission of your respective organizations in the forefront of your hearts and minds allowing it to inform your decisions, inspire your words and actions, and fuel your ministries.

After beginning His public ministry, Christ remained singularly focused on His mission: 
  • "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" (Luke 4:18-19); 
  • "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth" (John 18:37).
Translate the Vision into Strategy
The second practice of effective leaders focuses on translating the unifying vision for an organization into concrete and detailed strategies.

Play close attention to the strategies that will allow you to advance your school's mission. Do your best to keep the urgent at bay through timely doing, delegation, or dumping in order for you to stay committed to what is most important to your organization's purpose. Be ruthless in your efforts to align all that you do to your organization's mission. Root out practices, policies, procedures, programs, and personnel that fail to advance the mission. Graft in those ways of operating that more authentically live out your organization's core purpose. 

From performing His first miracle at a wedding, to proclaiming His identity to the woman at the well in Samaria, to healing the man's hand on the Sabbath, to every single thing He did, Jesus acted on purpose for His purpose. 

Recruit, Develop, and Reward a Solid Team
Ashkenas and Manville's (2018) third strategy entails recruiting, developing, and rewarding a solid team. The most compelling mission (the first practice) and the best designed plans (the second one) require competent and committed people to do this important work. Remember that mission and communion are intimately connected, "interpenetrating and mutually implying each other" (St. John Paul II, 1988, para. 2).

Catholic school leaders must collaborate and coordinate the efforts of the faculty, staff, and stakeholders across your communities. 

Simultaneously, and more importantly, Catholic school leaders must trust that Jesus has invited you - as He did the apostles - to cooperate in the miraculous! In turn, we are compelled to invite others to purposefully participate in God's work. Fill the stone jars with water, roll away the stone, collect the leftovers. 

Conspire with Jesus and each other to do the impossible. 

Focus on Measurable Results
The fourth skill of effective leaders (Ashkenas and Manville, 2018) centers on measurable results. After establishing a clear mission and purpose, designing a strategy to execute it, and recruiting, retaining, and developing faculty and staff to help you in these efforts, you must devise ways in which you will know whether or not you are successful.

Leaders must think about how you can prove to your stakeholders - students, teachers, families, benefactors, prospective families, detractors - that you are advancing the school's mission. Humbly consider ways to show the gap between the school's current reality and where you want it to be. Transparently communicate the successes and the challenges to those who have a hand in making improvements. These metrics can help to take next steps, devise new strategies, and refine what success looks like.

Foster Innovation
Innovation serves as the fifth skill of effective leaders (Ashkenas and Manville, 2018). This fifth principle, innovation, occurs as a result of ongoing learning and growth.

Innovation, for Catholic school leaders, entails an openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It requires the humility Jesus describes, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mt. 23:12). The Christian virtue of humility promotes God's glory and recognizes God's graces in any of our efforts to do so. Far from a deprecating view of self, humility acknowledges our need for God, our connectedness with others, and our constant pursuit of God's truth.

Humility serves as the open door for God to enter into an idea and take it from good to great. Humility acts as the spirit willing to ask others to synergistically collaborate and offer their gifts and talents in meaning ways. Humility allows us to die to our tired traditions and worn out ways of operating so that we can "accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine by the power at work within us" (Eph. 3:20).

Stay humble in your efforts to keep getting better. Remain open to the work of the Holy Spirit to transform our water into wine. Continue to innovate in apostolic ways, trusting that God is at work in us and through us.

Lead Yourself
The final skill of effective leaders includes a leader's knowledge of him/herself, efforts to grow his/her abilities, self-care, and willingness to share her/his gifts and talents beyond the organization (Ashkenas and Manville, 2018). Put more simply: know yourself, grow yourself, care for yourself, and share yourself.

Ashkenas and Manville (2018) cite this set of introspective skills as the culminating factor in its suite of leadership attributes: mission, strategy, personnel, results, and innovation.

In the midst of all that you have to do, continue to harness your own gifts, talents, wellness, and willingness to contribute to the larger field of education, other sectors, and/or the mission of our Church. 

Doing so, much like Christ going off by Himself to pray, can provide the restoration, rejuvenation, and recreation needed to do the rest of the work for which you are responsible.

Monday, October 23, 2023


One of my favorite parts of the series, "The Chosen" is how Jesus says to those he encounters, "Shalom,_________." While I knew that one of its translations connects to peace, seeing a portrayal of Christ saying this to another person - the Word of God speaking this "shalom" into existence - inspired me to dig deeper. 

We often think of peace as the absence of conflict, which definitely forms part of its definition. 

The peace that Christ came to provide, though, goes beyond a ceasefire to include wholeness, completeness, harmony and total well-being. The peace that Christ came to give us is restorative. It is healing. It integrates us and allows us to flourish, becoming the people that God created and needs us to be. It brings us back into communion with God and others. Christ's peace incorporates solidarity, flourishing, wholeness, and integration in a way that only He can fulfill and that He hopes to continue to provide to the world through His disciples. 


St. Paul VI popularized the phrase, "If you want peace, work for justice" (St. Paul VI, 1972) to demonstrate the active role that we must play in partnering with Christ in this important work. Being an agent of justice requires that we strive to ensure that each person gets his/her due. From education to health care to social services to opportunities to work and contribute to the common good, our ministries bring peace to the extent that we advocate for justice and ensure that each member of our communities receives these fundamental aspects of life. 

Justice entails solidarity and works to pave the pathways for all to flourish. 

Working for justice in pursuit of peace often brings us into situations of conflict, injuries, and chaos. The road to peace - solidarity, flourishing, wholeness, integration - requires that we travel in a polarized, broken, and dysfunctional world. Healing, forgiving, rebuilding, and restoring demand immense effort, long amounts of time, and a willingness to toil in the midst of tension. As Pope Francis has often said, our Church must resemble a field hospital; as such, we must work as combat medics.

Finally, I heard recently that the current generation (those from about 2010 on) are called the "Polars" because of both the melting of the polar ice caps and the highly polarized world in which we currently live. May the work we do in our Catholic schools bring about peace and imitate the work done by Christ and His Church for the past 2,000 years. 

Let us continue to erase the margins that keep people outside of community creating new systems for all to flourish while also removing the barriers that keep some from that which all are due. 

Let us continue to invite all to the wedding banquet of the Lamb living in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters, prioritizing dialogue rooted in listening.

Let us continue to bring people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, whose transforming love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" and "never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).

Let us, through our words and actions, convey to all we encounter, "Shalom."






Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Hope Will Rise

Hope stands as the second core value in support of my mission for humans to flourish through Catholic education (magnify is the first). From a catechetical standpoint, hope “is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC, 1997, para. 1817). 

Jesus Christ, when He conquered sin and death through the Resurrection, made hope possible through His passion and death on the cross.

The Congregation of Holy Cross (CSC), who sponsors the University of Notre Dame and formed me for over 13 years, captures the virtue of hope through its motto, Ave Crux, Spes Unica, or "Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope." Members of the CSC operationalize hope through their ministries in education, parishes, and in service to those affected by poverty, oppression, and marginalization. 

More concretely, this value inspires steadfastness after a failure, defeat, or mistake. Similarly, hope acts as a key ingredient in the adoption of a growth mindset and the belief that through hard work and perseverance one can push past obstacles, overcome challenges, and find success. 

As a disciple with hope to bring to the world, I remain committed to advancing my mission despite setbacks and times of despair. 

I resolve to keep my eyes and heart fixed on Jesus whenever storms come - because they assuredly will.

Different from faith, which believes in something - or Someone - even without knowing or understanding everything about it, hope believes that something will take place in the future, even though it may seem improbable, doubtful, or even impossible. 

As such, faith fuels hope, giving it gas and feeding its fire. The more faith I have in the person of Jesus Christ, the more hope I can muster in moments of trial to do the right thing. The more faith I have in the Trinity, the more hope I can have that relationships will be healed. The more faith I have in the Paschal Mystery, the more hope I possess that new life - somehow - will burst forth from ashes. 

Hope may not be a strategy, but it can be the wings required for a grounded idea to lift off. 

Hope grows through constant contact with Christ through the daily reading of God's Word, frequent participation in the Sacraments, and surrounding yourself with like-minded and like-hearted disciples who can "encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

These tactics will foster hope and guard against discouragement, "the anesthetic the devil uses on a person just before he reaches in and carves out his heart” (Howard Hendricks). 

Because of the Holy Cross of Jesus Christ, hope will rise in our hearts, throughout our schools, and across the entire world... least, I hope that it will.  

Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

"Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope!"