In observance of Thanksgiving, the Parish Office will close at noon on Wednesday, November 23 through Friday, November 25. Thanksgiving Day Mass will be at 9:00 am only. Also, please note Fr. Trey will be away and there will be no Weekday Mass next week, November 28 - December 1.
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Several years ago, I was invited by a friend to play a round of golf at a course by the name of English Turn.  As some of you may know, it’s a very nice course, located near New Orleans, and serves as the site for the annual Zurich Classic. Well, the gentleman who invited me had won a round of golf for 4 people during a recent auction.  The package included 18 holes, lunch at the turn, and, for the first time in my life, a caddie!  I had no idea what that would be like, but boy, would I soon learn.  As a side note, one my favorite images for describing our relationship with God is that of a caddie.  I’ll explain in a moment.  Meanwhile, back to our round of golf.  We were coming up on one of the last holes, a hole that left us facing a familiar golfer’s choice; namely, to try and go over the water or play it safe and do what we call “lay-up.”  Now, our caddie that day was a gentleman by the name of Clarence.  He was six-foot-six and weighed probably close to 300 pounds.  He wore a white long-sleeved tee shirt, white pants, black leather shoes, and carried a white towel, slung over his shoulder.  Clarence was an experienced man.  It comes time for me to make my choice.  I look back at Clarence and didn’t even need to ask.  “The smart thing,” he said, “would be to just lay up, then go over the water.”  He had a foot-long New Orleans poboy, wrapped in white paper, in his hands.  He sat down on the back of the cart, started to tear the paper from around his sandwich, and, looking down, simply said, “But, then again, most people don’t do the smart thing.”  Looking back, I sense that he knew we were going to be on that particular hole for a while.  Well, you probably know what I did.  Of course.  I envisioned myself “flying the lake,” as they say, and took a big old whack at it.  The ball flew, and flew, and flew, and then took a plunge, right down into the middle of the lake.  Reluctantly, I turned around and looked at Clarence.  He was chewing a big bite of his poboy and laughing so hard, that the entire golf cart was shaking, I mean, bouncing up and down.  Then, with a mouth half-full of food, he just shook his head and said, “I told you what you needed to do, but you just wouldn’t listen.”

“I told you what you needed to do, but you just wouldn’t listen.”  You may call me crazy, but for me personally, the caddie-golfer relationship reminds me a lot of our personal relationship with God.  Both can tell us what we need to do, in any given situation, but it’s totally up to us, completely up to us as to whether or not we will listen to that voice and do what we need to do.

The late Jack Whitaker, for many years a golf commentator for CBS Sports, once wrote the introduction for a book, entitled, The Golfer’s Code.  In it he writes, “Golf, as played by most of us, has no umpire, no referee, no linesman. We are the officials and we call the penalties on ourselves. That is the one clean, fine thing that separates golf from other sports.” (Gould, David. The Golfer’s Code. Fairchild Publications. New York. 1993.) 

Life, indeed, has rules.  Societies and institutions have laws.  Our Catholic faith has a moral code, by which we are called to live.  But, in the end, what guides us is not the law or the letter of it, but the spirit of it.  The Spirit.  The Holy Spirit. Whether we listen to that voice or not is, in the end, up to us.  Through God’s Word we have revealed to us the only path to real peace, the only path to true wisdom. It is Jesus Christ and “the whisper,” if you will, of his voice to our hearts and minds in and through the gift that we celebrate today.  The Holy Spirit.  I remember having a conversation with a young man many years ago, who is now in his late twenties and well into his career, during which he said to me, “I have come to learn that, in life, the reason to not do the wrong thing is not so that you won’t get caught.  The reason to not do the wrong thing is because it’s the wrong thing.” That’s an example of what it means to listen to the Spirit and live accordingly.

There are various scripture readings for this weekend, but all throughout them, the message is the same, as we read, for example, in the Gospel of John, Jesus saying to us, “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:25-26) I have always said to people, young and old, who were faced with a difficult decision, “For the person of faith, which you are, what you need to do will be revealed to you.”  That happens in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.  In other words, if we want to know what is right and true, what will make us happy, God will tell us.  If we stop, turn off the noise for a moment, and pray, the Spirit will guide us.

But here’s one of the dilemmas of today.  Too many people allow too many outside sources guide them.  And it’s not just young people.  Confusion about faith, God, sexuality, religion, and a healthy way of life is often caused by what we could call, “those other voices.”  Like: society’s latest trends.  What my friend “so and so” thinks or is allowed to do.  Adults who do not offer their children the type of guidance that comes with their God-given vocation.  Other quick fixes, such as certain substances and unhealthy visual aids. Then, for some of us, if we try to share what is so dear to us, even in the least-judgmental way, when we try to share what gives us strength and a strong self-image, we’re rejected and sometimes labeled. 

But this is not about young and old or the differences between one generation and the next.  It’s not about the law. It’s not about the rules.  You know what it’s about?  It’s about love. It's about the fact that “who I am” is not defined by anyone out there.  Not by anyone out there at all.  It’s not even defined by me.  It’s defined, in love, by The One who made us.  The Father.  The Creator, who loves us more than we could ever possibly know.  In “those other voices, those outside sources,” there is no depth.  In Christ is the deepest of love.

If we want to be really happy, as happy as we possibly can be, happy in the sense of true happiness, then there’s one place to go.  It’s the place, the source, the Person whom we celebrate today.  The Holy Spirit.   There are countless times in a day that we “log into” our email accounts, the web, and the opinions of other people, the lifestyles and trends of other people.  How many times in a day do we shut all of that off and reconnect with the greatest love and the purest wisdom?  God, in His Son, Jesus, and in the power, the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

It's the Voice that says to us, “Just give Me a chance.  Listen.  And you will know the way to go—and you will be happy, really, genuinely happy.”



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