An Idea for Lent

Here’s a suggestion: Turn off the TV, the radio, and put down the device and read a book. (Unless you like to read on your device.)

“What should I read, Fr. K.?”

Glad you asked. How about something written by Holy Redeemer Parishioners? I have two great books for you.

Places to Pray

by Patrick Murphy

Hot off the presses and ready for Lent.  Patrick has spent the last year and a half traveling the state of Missouri photographing and exploring various churches and religious sites. What he discovered was a rich tradition of cathedrals, churches, shrines, monasteries and convents. His pictures alone tells the story of the faith of Catholics dotted across the landscape. He visited sites in the St. Louis area, Kansas City and outstate Missouri. Interspersed within his vivid travelogue, he talks of various religious practices and modes of prayer, often misunderstood by non

-Catholics (and maybe even some Catholics). Several of the churches I have ministered at are featured in the book (including a glamour shot of Holy Redeemer). This book takes you from the magnificence of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (truly one of the most beautiful churches in the world) to the simple, stark, unpretentious church of St. Patrick’s of Armagh near Catawissa, Missouri. (I went with Patrick on this pilgrimage. I celebrated two weddings in this austere church – with NO electricity. And even though it is no longer an official parish in the Archdiocese, it still has a Parish Picnic run by Catholics and Protestants alike. Truly an amazing place.)

Patrick’s book is one that you can leave on your desk and pick it up every day and read an entry or two, something you can ponder throughout your day. The book itself is a prayer book of sorts. And if you feel adventurous, he gives you the addresses, phone numbers and websites of the various places so that you can go there in person. I could see families heading out on day trips on a Saturday or Sunday during Lent to go visit these various sites. For instance Our Lady of Sorrows in Starkenberg would make a great out- ing, and the kids might get a kick out of going to Our Lady Help of Christians in Frankenstein.

This Sunday afternoon, Patrick will have a book signing at our rectory from 2 to 4pm (Hope you didn’t give up wine for Lent.)

On Fire by John O’Leary

When I went to Houston a couple of weeks back, my cousin Sheila was incredibly gracious and hospitable. As a gift, I sent her a book on the Holy Land (we are going next October) as well as John O’Leary’s book, On Fire. And then I thought to myself, I hadn’t read John’s book yet. Duh! So I downloaded a copy.

Wow. Most of you know the outline of John’s sto- ry, but the book delves deep into a universal story of tragedy and triumph. What amazed me most about the book is the fine line between be- ing a victim and being a victor. Most everyone has been burned by life in some way or another. Everyone nurses their own scars. Yet the difference between finding the fullness of life and wal- lowing in the pit of self-pity is slight. John’s proposal is that those who thrive and those who don’t, both say the same thing (WHY ME?) but the perspective is radically different, and that makes all the difference.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an ar- my to bring a child back from the brink. And John was blessed to have an army on his side.

From the heroics of his brother and sisters, to the skill of his doctors, to the attention to cleanliness of the janitor in his hospital, to the determination of the nurse who helped him to walk again, to the inspiration of Jack Buck, to the legions of people holding him up in prayer, he had his army. But it is John parents who had the biggest impact on me as I read. With equal blends of love, tough and compassionate, their foresight and forgiveness helped mold him into the man he is to- day. It takes vision, a long view, to tell your young son who lost his fingers, that he best learn how to feed himself. It takes vision, a long view, to tell your young son who almost killed himself and burned your house to the ground, that you still love him.  It is a remarkable story, and I have only shared with you a minute fraction of what he discloses. To put it bluntly: You cannot read this book and not be transformed.

Both of these books are perfect for the Lenten season.

Just ask Fr. Kevin

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