Saturday, April 20, 2019

Three Good Friday Miracles

Missionaries before our Good Friday "Cross Walk"


Dear Friends,
It’s Holy Saturday, and our annual Holy Week Mercy Missions aren’t even over yet here in Cincinnati, but I can’t help but share what I’ve seen and lived these days.
Our Cross Walk Group in front of Holy Cross Immacolata Church and the Steps
Yesterday morning we did a “Cross Walk”, carrying five life-sized crosses from the downtown Cathedral of Saint Peter in Chains to the Church of Holy Cross-Immacolata. Holy Cross sits atop a hill overlooking the city and the Ohio river. For 159 years, starting Holy Thursday and lasting into the night on Good Friday, the citizens of Cincinnati have been climbing and praying their way up a series of steps all the way from the river to the top of the hill where the Church sits. 
Pilgrims praying their way up the steps in the rain
Along our way, we asked people in the streets for prayer requests and offered to pray with them. We brought food for the homeless, and tried to remind people that it was Good Friday. Sure, there were rejections, but also many people who were genuinely touched that we wanted to pray with them. We met many homeless people, as well as ordinary business people. Each person was different. 
My Miraculous medal-handing-out friend
The first miracle I witnessed was a little boy who spent the whole Cross walk handing out tiny miraculous medals. We had walked about a mile or so and approached a bus stop where several people were seated waiting for their rides. I watched as one of the adult missionaries approached a lady seated at the bus stop, only to be completely rejected. Seconds later, this little boy, a first grader, approached the same lady and offered her one of his tiny miraculous medals. The lady looked up, smiled, and held out her hand to receive the gift. “Thank you so much,” she said. It was as if he had awakened her from a deep sleep.


At the end of our walk, we still had time before the Good Friday service, so I sat down in church and heard confessions. This was the second miracle of my day. As a priest, you are priviliged to see a different side of people: the story of their suffering and sin. It is very humbling, especially knowing how hard it is for me to drag myself to confession, to witness these people humbly confessing their sins to Jesus through His priest.
Now, I hear confessions almost every day of the year. But these confessions yesterday were some of the deepest and most powerful ones ever. Several people hadn’t been to confession in forty or fifty years or more, and they really needed God’s forgivness. I’m not even forty yet, which means I wasn’t even born the last time some of these people went to confession—think of that! Each confession yesterday was a miracle, and I am so grateful to have been witness.
It was during the Good Friday service that I witnessed my third miracle. 
As we sat down for the readings, I looked down a moment at the beautiful white and blue tile floor in the sanctuary. Then I saw it—there was a host, a small host, sitting there, hidden among the white tiles. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was just an arm’s length in front of me. I had criss-crossed the sanctuary several times before and had not seen it. It must have fallen off the altar during the breaking of the bread at a previous mass, perhaps on Holy Thursday.
I leaned over to pick it up, and this is what really shook me: that host must have been there, in the middle of a high-traffic corridor, since at least the day before, with people walking back and forth hundreds if not thousands of times, and it was completely untouched. Not a speck of dirt, not the slightest sign of a footprint. I’m sure it was consecrated, and I know it was a little Eucharistic miracle I witnessed. There must have been hosts of angels protecting it! I feel privileged to have been the one to have found Jesus. (reminds me of another time this happened!)
The missions aren’t even over yet, and I’m already looking forward to them next year! The missionaries themselves have taught me so much, as have the good good people we have come into contact with. It makes me so happy to be a priest, and so proud to be able to help bring Jesus to this world that needs him so much!!!
Please pray for all of our missionaries, we are over 250 people all told.
I pray you have a blessed Easter!
Father Kevin
PS: Please pray for me and our group of 20 pilgrims who head to Rome a week from today. If you have any prayer intentions, especially for any couples having a difficult pregnancy or trying to conceive a child, please send them my way, I have the perfect place to pray for them!!!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Saint José Is In Print!

My New Book!
Dear Friends,
I got a nice surprise in the mail yesterday. It was the catalog from a publishing house called Ignatius Press. In the new book section was a book I wrote, called “Saint José”.
This has been a long time coming! I started writing in 2005, and I was making the very last edits just this Monday. Fourteen years is a lot, but the results are worth it, I think. 
You may have heard of José. He was a fourteen year-old Mexican boy who died rather than deny his faith during the Cristero War in Mexico in 1928.
Hearing his story when I was twelve was powerful inspiration for me to become a priest.  At the time, I was devouring the lives of the saints, especially a series that Ignatius published called the Vision Series. But when I looked for something about José, I found nothing.

Now José is a saint, and now my book is the latest in the Vision Series. God is so good! I hope to write many more! (Right now, I'm working on Saint Kevin of Glendalough)
The Ignatius Press Catalog
The book goes to print today and it is already available for preorder on the Ignatius website here. It will be available April 28th. I think it would be a great confirmation or even first holy communion present. Saint José's story is inspiring for all.
May you have a blessed beginning of Spring!
Father Kevin


Saturday, February 2, 2019

two sorrows turned to joys

John Paul and his new van!!!
Dear family and friends,

This last weekend surprised me. Twice.

As you know, my little brother John Paul suffers from a host of limitations: autism, hydrocephalous, blindness and aphasia, among others. He is confined to a wheelchair or his bed. 

Taking care of John Paul has always been a challenge, but my parents have poured themselves into him, and, instead of not living a day like the doctors had originally told them, John Paul is now 22 years old.

John Paul and Dad with the van - you can see the old van in the background
For the last ten years or so, one of the hardest parts of caring for John Paul was transporting him places. Our old van was too much of a hassle—not to mention danger—to him and us. We could take John Paul ice skating because the rink is a five minute walk from our house. We also could take him on walks through the neighborhood. But for the life of me, I can’t remember the last time we took him anywhere else except for doctor’s appointments, when we absolutely had to.

riding in the new van with John Paul
All this changed last week. My mom and dad started a Gofundme campaign December 8th, and by January 24th they had received donations from all over—enough to purchase a wonderful minivan perfect for transporting John Paul. Our last van had a hydraulic lift, which sounds cool but is actually very complicated. This van simply has a sunken floor and a ramp that you lower down by hand to push him in. It is way easier to use than the lift and it’s very safe.
 
with John Paul in the Temperate House at the Botanical Gardens
While I was at home last weekend, we got to try out the van. And it worked! We took John Paul to the Missouri Botanical Gardens where they have a huge geodesic dome with a rainforest inside—perfect for a little winter pick-me-up. It was so easy getting him in and out of the van. And John Paul had a blast. When we got back home my mom mentioned how different it all had been: with the old van doing what we just did would have completely wiped them out for the rest of the day.
 
Blessing John Paul and his new van
The joy isn’t just in getting the new van. It’s in knowing the love and support of so many family members and friends is behind it. Every time we use it from now on, all of that love and care will travel with us and John Paul. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s kind of like when you have some good news and you want to share it with the whole world, but this is a bit like in reverse. The whole world is sharing in the good news of every time we can take John Paul out for a spin or an adventure. And John Paul is happiest of all, because he sure loves to move. He spent his time in the van rocking and laughing and enjoying himself… and whacking the spare tire next to him—John Paul sure loves to hit stuff!


There was a second little sorrow turned to joy this last weekend when I was at home. I had offered to put a new thermostat in my sisters apartment. I pride myself on being something of an electrician, so a thermostat should have been a piece of cake. But I botched the job, and my sister called hours after I left informing me that her heat wasn’t working at all. So I went back with my dad and—we thought—fixed it. An hour later she called again to tell me that it was only blowing out cold air. So I went back a third time the next day, at which point I finally acknowledged that I was out of my league and that she should probably call the utility company. I was driving back to Cincinnati feeling like an electrical failure when I got a call from my dad. It turns out that when the utility company had come they found several leaks in the gas pipes in her basement. It took them two days to fix the leaks. Gas leaks are bad news. It was only because of my mistakes that the company ever found them. O blessed bungling! 

John Paul with the family
And thinking back to the van, O blessed sorrow! John Paul and his limitations have put us in contact with so many people whom we would otherwise never have known. And not only that, we’ve seen the generosity of so many people whom we don’t know. Some people gave large amounts, others small. My dad commented how he’s sure that some of the donations were like the Widow’s Mite in the Gospel—people taking food out of their own mouths to help get John Paul his van. 

Wow! You wouldn’t think that sorrow can transform into all that: physical limitations into a groundswell of goodness and generosity; a botched fix-it job into averting a possible disaster. 

For all of this, for more, I am grateful. I am grateful that evil does not have the last word, that people are so so good, that God can bring good from any sorrow.

Happy Feast of the Presentation of the Lord! May God bless you, and help you see the sorrows-turned-to-joys in your own life!
Father Kevin

Sunday, January 20, 2019

John Paul is gonna get his van!

John Paul's Gofundme Campaign
Dear family and friends,

I told you about the Gofundme campaign that my parents put together to get a new wheelchair van for my little brother John Paul. They started the campaign on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and it looks like they will be able to purchase the van this Thursday! They need $28,410, and donations are just over $28,000 now. (the Gofundme page shows less, but it’s not counting a donation of $10,000 from the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, as well as a few more donations by check)

they took John Paul for a test drive in the van, and he approved!
I wanted to really thank all of you who have been able to help, and encourage anyone who would still like to make a last-minute donation. (https://www.gofundme.com/wheels-for-john-paul)

the used van my parents would like to get
We had kind of given up taking John Paul anywhere that we couldn’t push him to in his wheelchair, but this van will make transporting him so much easier. John Paul loves moving--I discovered this when I took him ice skating the first time. He loves car rides too, and I can't wait to see him take a ride in his new van.

Thank you once again, and please be assured of my prayers for you!
Father Kevin

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas and a Christmas Mystery for You


Skating on Lake Koshkonong on Christmas Day
Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas! Christmas is such a special feast that it has an "octave"--its celebration is extended for eight days. So in my book, it's still Christmas today!

Junior Priests' Get-Together
I spent the days before Christmas in Northern Indiana at a gathering of "Junior Priests"--priests who have been ordained five years or less. Many of us have known each other since we first joined the seminary, so it's nice to have time to talk, play, and pray, just us.

Christmas Mass with... a lot of priests!!! - photo by Father Brett Taira

Concelebrating Christmas Mass - photo by Father Brett Taira
Now I am in Wisconsin with 120+ other priests for the next week or so. It sure is interesting to have more priests than people for mass!
Our White Wisconsin Christmas
I love white Christmases, and Wisconsin is the right place to be for them--yesterday we woke up to a carpet of snow covering the ground.

Skating on perfect ice on Christmas Day - photo by Deacon Jared Loehr

An even better surprise for me was discovering that the nearby lake was frozen solid and the ice was perfect for skating.

Telling the Story of Theodore and the Christmas Mystery
I wrote a little story about a boy named Theodore, and I thought you might enjoy it. It's called "Theodore and the Christmas Mystery". I recorded it and put it on Youtube. It's about 19 minutes long.

May God bless you, have a blessed Christmas!
Father Kevin
www.cblstones.com 
My Amazon Wishlist is here.
Gofundme for Handicap Van for my little brother John Paul is here.
Gofundme for a car for Father Kevin is here.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

wheels for John Paul

John Paul and me

Dear Friends,

The words in Mass yesterday from Isaiah chapter 29 hit me: 

On that day the deaf shall hear
    the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
    the eyes of the blind shall see.

Perhaps you know that my little brother John Paul is blind and partially deaf. At one point, I thought he was entirely deaf, until a little adventure we had together that I write about here







I found out from taking him ice skating, something which we still try to do every time I’m home for a visit. He loves it, and I love taking him. 

A while back our family tried to get a better mobility van to carry John Paul around in his wheelchair through a sort of online contest, which we did not win. 

Now, instead of a contest, my mom and dad have put together a Gofundme campaign to help the family get John Paul a new van.

Why do we need a new van? The old one worked when John Paul was younger, but now that he’s almost six feet tall, it’s quite a chore just to get him inside without hitting his head on the car door. It's a 25 year old van with all sorts of issues, and besides that my parents are getting older and they need something that is easier to move him in and out of. 

The Gofundme campaign is live at https://www.gofundme.com/wheels-for-john-paul. I ask you to prayerfully consider supporting this campaign for John Paul, my little brother. And feel free to pass this message on to anyone you think would be interested.

May God bless you, and have a blessed Advent!
Father Kevin

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mother of the Essential

Mary Statue at the Carmelite Monastery of Valmadonna, Italy
Dear Friends,

Back in 2010, I spent a few days at the Carmelite Monastery of Valmadonna in northern Italy. I still have a prayer card from there with a beautiful prayer to the Blessed Mother that I pray. Here’s a translation in case you would like to pray it too!

O mother of LOVE,
Treasure of CALM and SERENITY,
we love you for the light
From your lowered eyes,
for the peace of your gaze,
for the revealing attitude
of your inner fullness.

You are the VIRGIN of the INVISIBLE and the ESSENTIAL.
We beg you to detach us,
to remove us from everything that is seen
to bring us back and fix us
on the INVISIBLE that your eyes contemplate:
the invisible PRESENCE, 
the invisible LIFE,
the invisible ACTION, 
the invisible LOVE.

In our busy, overworked days,
May YOU keep us in the light of things
which we do not see.

Through the secondary things
That cry out to us and seduce us often,
give us, o MOTHER
an understanding of and a hunger for the ESSENTIAL.


(M.T. DE Lescure)

Original in French here