Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tell Everybody Bailey Was a Happy Guy!

My uncle and aunt asked us to "tell everybody he was a happy guy." The best way I think I know to do that is to literally put it out there for EVERYONE to read. Not a day goes by that I do not think about my cousin, Bailey. He indeed was a happy guy... I was honored to give his last words and believe they are appropriate for this medium. Please experience a small portion of Bailey and know the Peace and happiness he had.

Shailia: “Got it. Love ya. Traveling mercies. Godspeed. Remember your home and work training. You are a great son and soldier. And before that you were a true gift from God. When He gave us to one another at your birth you were already a gifted guy. Use all these things, all your days. You are more than prepared for your future. And your future is preparing you for all your tomorrows. I trust you with this wide world God has created and I trust God with you. We are proud of you and for you. Copy?”
 Bailey: “Good copy mom. Love you.”

Shailia said, "Early in life Bailey professed his faith in God. In his own special way he was filled with both great love and earthly imperfections. He displayed a heart after God. His future was just beginning to unfold. Sadly, that future was cut short. The circumstance and random consequence of this world got in the way. Even so, our faith and trust continues. For 25 years Bailey made the world a better place by putting feet to the heart of God. Today we are both fortunate and unfortunate." Fortunate because we were able to stand in the light with this man! Unfortunate because we must journey on without him...

St Paul writes, “Your kindness should be known to all. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4: 5-9). PFC Bailey Jerome Swaggart held the qualities St Paul encourages us to think on… truth, honor, loveliness, grace, excellence, and being worthy of praise. Listen to what others say of him:
Mark said Bailey is “… amongst the best of men in today’s armed services. Only a man dedicated to his family and country can make it as far as you did...”
Ryan said, “... as you grew up to become a man you became my brother” and Ford, along with many others say Bailey is “one of the good ones.”
Reflecting on his time with Bailey, Josh said, “I remember the first time I met [him]… I think he was a freshman, and had that Mohawk. I told him he had that Taxi Driver look goin on and he gave me that whole (yyeeaah) grin. I knew right then he was one of those cool punk kids that fit right in with my old crowd.”
Kota happily shared that Bailey imparted the wisdom of “who Mr. Mojo Risin was.” “Old soul” tends to describe Baily’s love of music. This inheritance of sound shaped his experience and interaction with the world and us who are in it.  No matter where he was, Bailey was… Bailey. A little punk. A little, ok, maybe a lot, sarcastic. And one of a kind. Can you imagine the jam session he and Jesus are engaged in at this very moment?! I’m sure he’s now met ALL of his favorite artists!
Brent emotionally reflected by saying, “If it were not for Bailey, I would not know who Bill Withers really was…” and “Thank you… for being there when I needed a ride to the hospital. When I needed a [brother] to hear my mom and pop problems. When I decided to QUIT drinking and smoking and you came over almost every day until you left for your service to our country. Thank you… for keeping in touch even though neither of us were in town anymore. Can't wait to see you again bro and laugh at how odd the afterlife is… just like we laughed when we sat on my parent’s front porch time and time again.
Do you see the caliber of this man… when no one saw, he provided grace and comfort, strength and hope, to all of us. Bethany saw this and said he is “one of the best people to have walked the earth” and she “feels sorry for anyone who didn’t get a chance to meet him.”
Blake, one of his infantry brothers, takes rest in knowing “Swag… is watching our six.”

To be honest, I didn't know Bailey as well as many of you do... I’ve not had as much common experience as you had. When he began considering the Army we began to grow close. Because I have some experience in the realm of Army Infantry life he asked as many questions as he could about what to expect, what training would be like, and what deployment and combat were like. Over the course of the next year and more he would call once or twice a month and we’d swap good stories about military adventures and the comradery he was experiencing. Adventures that can be both brutal and exhilarating all at once! We both knew we had entered into a brotherhood that only Sand Hill at Ft Benning, GA can create. “Making your glory” the Greeks called it... the life and death of a warrior, an infantryman.
 The last time I saw Bailey was in December. We stood around a camp fire with family, sharing stories, laughter, and each other’s company. I believe the conversation turned into what one of the male species might call a… how do you say… pissing contest. We all stood around verbally sparring over who caught the biggest fish! Of course, the old men frequently began theirs with, “Let me tell you something boy” to which Bailey and I would roll our eyes and think “what do they know?” "The Boy's" wit and sarcasm, I dare say, out shined the rest of our embellished truths… and I’ve never seen Kenny so proud before. His smile was so wide and his laughter so deep you couldn't even see his eyes! I could tell he was so proud of his son’s journey into manhood. The echoes of that night still play on my heart and I am excited to join with my cousin around a warm fire again… but not yet. Not yet, because I, no, we all have the awesome responsibility to carry him with us for the rest of our days. To tell his story. To say how much he means to us. Model him, as St Paul encouraged us to do. Model how he encouraged, supported, and lifted those around him… not to mention how he laughed, joked, and teased.

His sisters? I've never witnessed fiercer love for a brother! I’ve never failed to notice the spark of admiration in their eyes when they looked toward Bailey… nor how he would shake his head at them during one of their moments of sibling banter over a holiday meal. I've always been a bit jealous of their connection… being an only child I count a few as brothers but I've always known there is something different among these four… Something, tangible. No matter how very different these four are they always know their love is solid and lasting. I dare say if someone ever spoke ill of Bailey they’d have a three sister fire team that could rival any trained infantry unit. Not to mention the fire team leading mom!

And have you seen the photos with him and his nieces and nephew? This guy loved, loved, loved being an uncle. He cherished them all. From the outside looking in, I can see just how important he is to them. The virtues Bailey possessed and his swagger are now carried on in his kin.
I had the fortune to pick Bailey up to secretly escort him home last December. He’d driven all the way from El Paso with a buddy. When I found him sitting in the Waffle house around 0600 he looked like he needed a good long nap! He was so excited to be home. I carried his bag as he climbed the stairs to the front door and knocked… Shalia answered. Her eyes and arms went wide as she said, “Well get in here boy!” She actually had the courage to trust Bailey with the wide world God has given us? Can you believe that? Doesn't she know how adventurous he is? She is also mustering the courage to trust God with him now…
We talked several times a month during his tour and he sent texts or called me once a day for the last five days he spent state side. The call I will not forget happened at about 0330 two nights before his deployment. Deanna and I had been wrestling with a toddler cutting teeth most of that night and at the time of his call I was laying in my bed feeling sorry for myself for being so tired… Like most of us in the Swaggart clan, I am not a happy camper when tired or hungry. Needless to say, his apologies for calling at such an odd time completely changed my mood. I could tell he had been crying a bit. All he could ask me was, “How did you do this?” We talked about my experience of deploying to Macedonia, Kosovo, and Iraq and how every single deployment brings with it a deep pit in the gut. This pit is called uncertainty and immediacy. Those who have taken the uniform, know the risks of wearing it. He knew the joys and hardships of military life and loved it! It’s funny but first responders and military personnel are trained to choose to walk toward the fear… to expect and embrace the immediacy of a terrible moment. Bailey worked hard to become the man he wanted to be and loved his “work” and was proud of his choices. He told me he was “so happy to have finally found his purpose.” And that is why he was and will forever be our hero… We can all clearly see how this man sheltered us with his excellence, honor, and truth. He is worthy of praise and will always be grace to our shattered hearts.
So, let us now bear Bailey on, and give his mortal coil to the earth. Master your hearts, as he did, and walk toward the danger. Like Simon the Cyrene, we unexpectedly help our brother on his Way of the Cross… This way that seems to bring us only despair and suffering… but we know something more! We know there is hope because the tomb is empty! That the Lord has conquered sin and death and will wipe away our tears, mend our hearts, and bring us to His eternal Peace! Please, now, if we are able, let us open our broken hearts to the Lord in prayer…

Let us Pray:
We acknowledge Christ the Lord through whom we hope that our lowly bodies will be made like his in glory, and we say… Lord, you are our life and our resurrection.

Christ, Son of the Living God, who raised up Lazarus, your friend, from the dead, raise up to life and glory, Bailey, whom you have redeemed by your precious blood.

Jesus, consoler of those who mourn, you dried the tears of the family of Lazarus, of the widow’s son, and the daughter of Jairus… comfort us who mourn.

Christ, Savior, destroy the reign of sin in our earthly bodies, so that just as through sin we deserved punishment so through you we may gain eternal life.

Jesus, Redeemer, look on those who have no hope because they do not know you, may they receive faith in the resurrection and in the life of the world to come.

You, O Christ, revealed yourself to the blind man who begged for the light of his eyes… show your face to Bailey, and to us, that we might not be deprived of your light any longer.

When at last our earthly home is dissolved, give us a home, not of earthly making, but built of eternity.

We ask this through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Light and Peace be with you always Saint Bailey Jerome Swaggart, rest easy soldier, and pray for us... for we long to see you again. +


Monday, October 18, 2010

Roll Over Reenactment

It only took Stellaru three months and ten days to roll over. Technically, this video shows the second time she does her new move. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

For My Grandfather

A little more than a month ago my family said goodbye to my grandfather. I had the honor of saying his eulogy that day. It was one of the most honored and toughest talk I have ever given. I post it here to share with whom ever might read this blog because I'd like to take a moment to remember him again and to share a little bit about a man I knew very well. Without him, I may have never come to a deep faith in Christ. Without him, I may have never come to appreciate the Christian tradition that has enriched my days. This is for my grandfather. Peace be with you who are reading this post...
"Today we are celebrating the Rite of Christian burial for Richard Joseph Swaggart.  This rite has been celebrated by Christians from the earliest days of the Way and has been passed to us through the ages.  Toward the end of the 2nd century the apologist Tertullian wrote extensively about this rite and I hope to be buried as countless Saints have been for the past 2000 years.  It’s somewhat ironic and appropriate that we are celebrating Joe’s death and burial as we journey through the Easter season, the season of resurrection, to Pentecost.
This ancient and enduring Christian tradition has been passed to me by the Saint we are celebrating today and saying goodbye to… wait, did I just say Saint? The title of Saint may just be the absolute last title assigned to Joe.  I’m positive that each of us could come up with much better names to describe Joe… One of us in this room calls him son, others brother and some father and grandfather.  His loyal patrons would call him Mr. Joe.
Mamaw Carolyn shared with me that one of the last things Joe looked forward to was getting better so that he could be back to work at Blue Chip and with his friends.  He was incredibly attached to the people he met as they traveled through their days.  Many folks were loyal to Blue Chip and Mr. Joe.  It became daily routine for them to swing by to grab a cup of coffee or hot link.  But it wasn’t just for the refreshments that people came by.  A few friends have said, “If you were ever having a bad day all you have to do is swing by Blue Chip to see Mr. Joe.  Your day will get much better after that!”  Others talked about how much they are going to miss him and how much of a prankster he was!
For example: Joe noticed that a customer came into the store for his usual cup of coffee and as always, left his car running just outside the front door.  Without a second thought Joe seized the opportunity to jump in the car and move it around behind the store.  The customer, not noticing what Joe had done, paid for his coffee, wished everyone a good day, walked outside, looked up and scratched his head, then began to pace, each step becoming quicker than the last.  Finally after a few minutes of pacing the man returned to the counter and yelled, “Joe! Someone stole my car! Call 9-1-1!” To which Joe replied, “Yea! Me dummy!” and held up his keys.  We are all well aware that his pranks didn’t stop with seasoned adults but also extended to his impressionable children as well.
One day a couple of his kids needed money for a coke.  Joe, never the man to pass up a good deal when he recognized it, decided that they could do a few chores for a little change.  See he needed a little fertilizer for his garden.  He said, “Alright, see those cow paddies out there? Good… I need a couple of buckets full for the garden.  Now you can’t just get any cow paddy no, I need the good ones.  So, here’s how you find the good ones.  Ya stick your finger in it!  If your finger will go in the cow paddy it’s not a good one.  So you need to find the ones that you’re finger won’t go in.”  The kids must have been wise because they quickly realized what he was up to!
Joe was never a man to be outdone by any man or any beast for that matter!  If you said he couldn’t or shouldn’t do something he’d give it a shot just to spite you.   Stubborn would not adequately define my grandfather’s personality.  Papaw Harry had this great big Brahma bull in his pasture and somehow Papaw Joe got the idea that he was going to ride it.  In reality he was probably told he couldn’t ride the bull.  So, he told his daddy, “I ain’t ever seen a bull that I couldn’t ride.”  So he crept out across the pasture all redneck style and slid himself across the bull’s back, head on the left side of the bull and feet on the right.  Papaw Harry reported, “That bull threw him so high that before Joe hit the ground a bird built a nest in his pocket!”  Still, I’m told that .5 seconds counts as actually riding a bull…
Here’s another instance when Joe wouldn’t be out done: He took Waylon, Howard, and Bill hunting one winter morning.  They really should have been smart enough to know not to go hunting with Joe.  I’m told it was freezing that morning and that ice was all over everything.  Waylon wanted to build a fire to keep warm and I’m sure Howard and Bill agreed.  Joe said, “NO! You’ll catch yourself on fire!”
About an hour passed and Joe began to get cold.  So… with the help of fellow freezing hunters, he built a fire.  Now Joe wore polyester pants everywhere, even hunting.  After warming his hands and front he turned to warm his back side.  It only took a few more minutes of roasting before, yes, he set himself on fire!  And to make a long story short, when Joe came out of the woods a smoke trail followed him, he had only one pant leg left, and a sock was melted to him.  Oh, and Waylon was grounded for life…
I could stand here and tell you, with the help of family and friends, countless stories of Papaw Joe’s antics.  Like the time Joe released a piglet at Roy Ray’s Cafe and yelled, “I want a fresh pork chop!”  Or, the time that Joe was called to come and get my dad from school because little Joey was gambling.  When Joe arrived at the principles office, an office that I’m sure he knew well from his childhood days, he asked, “Was he winning? If he wasn’t winning then he’s grounded!”  He even convinced Aunt Alisa that Evangeline Downs was a Catholic teen club!
We could go on-and-on about Joe.  We could share funny stories and not so funny stories about Joe’s life.  I hope that we can continue to tell stories about Joe as we move forward in life without him.
For me, it has been very painful to see such a stubborn and ornery man struggle through the final days of his life but his passing has taught me what it can be to die with dignity.  With effort, I have always been very close to him.  I remember vividly trading snide remarks of welcome with him and ending with an embrace.  Brandon Bay,” he would say, “what the hell do you want?!”  “Nothing from you!” I would reply.  On some level, we very much spoke the same language.  In many ways throughout my life he has helped me to understand myself, what it means to have faith, and what it means to be a cynic.  He encouraged me as a young boy to fight for the right thing, believe in God with love and respect not fear of death and hell, always be confident even if you’re faking it, listen to your elders even if you think they’re full of it, and always apologize when necessary.  Most of this teaching was tempered by his mistakes and I can’t say anyone has said he’s ever apologized to them.
Since I was a teenager, Papaw Joe and I have been brutally honest with each other.  It is a relationship that I will greatly miss…  For some reason he felt comfortable telling me some of the most tragic and insane things he has done or witnessed.  A few weeks ago I crawled in the bed with him and told him to move over so I could take a nap.  He joked, “Boy, can’t you see I’m dying here?!”  Soon after, the conversation became serious and he said that he was not afraid to die.  He told me that he had plenty of time laying in his bed reflecting on his life.  He felt that he made peace with God and could move into death without anxiety.  I am thankful to have been able to have one last round of jokes and cynicism as well as intimate conversation with him.  He said he loved having a second chance to “make out with his wife,” tell his kids that he loved them, and visit with friends.  Though he had a really hard time showing it, and in some relationships remained completely absent, Joe loved us.  He said that it was easier for him to be abrasive than it was for him to show love.  I’m sure we can all relate to being uncomfortable with intimacy at times.  Even right now…
At the end of our time, I think he gave me the most valuable advice a young man could get from a grandfather… try and live each day with courage and no regret.  “You won’t be able to do it,” he said, “but try harder than I did.”  We family know that Joe, in many ways, chose to live without courage and with regret.  He told me he wished he had not treated many people in his life the way he did, especially his children.  Though my grandfather was never able to muster the courage to right wrongs in his life, I pray I can follow his advice.  I pray we, his family and friends who are gathered at the table of the Lord, can find the courage to live without regret in the Light of Christ.  I loved my grandfather…
Richard Joseph Swaggart, pray for us, may you forever sing “Hosanna in the highest” to the King of Kings.  Pax et bonum…"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Peanut's Debut

Deanna and I went to the OB for our midpoint check-up. Can you believe we're half way there! Just think, in twenty more weeks, give or take, we'll be holding Peanut! D and I are incredibly excited for Peanut's arrival but are also enjoying each day. I mean, it's not everyday you get to shop for maternity cloths right?! Since this is her first pregnantcy we really want to enjoy as many moments as we can. For example, I really enjoy the moments when she looks at me and say, "Brandon, I think I want breakfast for dinner." Wow, does pregnancy change a person or what?! She's never wanted breakfast before. And to top that, she has been requesting pancakes. PANCAKES!!! She's even eating, yep, you guessed it, EGGS!!! Needless to say, Brandon is one happy camper. Tonight we're going to fire up the grill, ever so tiny that it is, and cook a nice steak with some vegetable cabobs. Just thought I'd add that cause I'm really looking forward to it.

Anyway, half way... we have a DVD of Peanut chillin in Deanna's belly. It's just about the coolest thing since sliced bread. And how amazing! This is certainly a miracle if I've ever experienced one! If you'd like to see it and weigh in on what you think it is, boy or girl not alien or sea monster, we'd be happy to read your thoughts. No, we do not know if it's an alien or sea monster. We plan to wait and be suprised. D says it's the one true suprise God gives us in life. Other than death and taxes... ;) Peace be with you and go to my facebook profile to see Peanut!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yep, I'm No Good at This Blog Thing

So it has been six months since I last put anything in the blog. Wow... I really need to get better at this! 2009 was a wonderful year for Deanna and me! I finished another year of grad school! Woo Hoo! And here comes graduation! Well, December 2010 anyway. And Deanna finished her first year with Arveda Family Care... not to mention professing her faith in God and celebrating it in baptism! And oh... yeah... there's this little thing called WE'RE HAVING A BABY too!!!!! I can't believe we're finally going to be parents! She's going to be a great mom... Deanna has an amazing gift when it comes to caring for others. She just seems to know just what a person needs and puts the balm on the hurt. At this point, I can only imagine what she'll be like when Peaknut arrives. Just last night she sat up in the bed and said, "Peaknut is 'wrastlin'... tee he he!" Yes, she was asleep when this happened and yes it was Kentuckyanese for wrestling. LOL It was just about the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Well the second sweetest thing...

I haven't been able to get the sound Peaknut's heart out of my head after hearing it for the first time at the Dr's office. So, we bought a fetal monitor a week ago and it arrived in the mail yesterday. We were very excited to rip it out of the box and get to listening. After a few min of trying we almost decided to give up for the evening, we both even had doubts that we would be able to find the heart beat, but suddenly we heard it! We looked at one another with wide eyed amazement and big toothy grins! I swear that sound is just about the most amazing thing every! It is miraculous! I really can't help but thinking of Psalm 139 where it says:

"You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me;
My very self you knew;
my bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be."

God thinks we are wonderful! What dreams God must have for us!

Coming into this chapter of my life I feel like I have an even closer glimpse of God. Even now, before I even know what our child will be like, I have such great love for it. Even now I feel like I already know Peaknut. And if I have all of these dreams for my child, how much does God dream for me?

I am happy to know that the dream God has for me includes a wonderful and faithful partner in Deanna and, in due time, a swashbuckling little girl/boy currently named Peaknut. I can't wait to see Peaknut smile!

Needless to say, we have been incredibly blessed this past year by growing in faith and family. We both look forward to God winks in 2010! Pax et bonum! Peace and all blessings!

Here is a link to Peaknut's heartbeat!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Come Holy Spirit!

The feast of Pentecost reminds me of how we tell each other, "I love you." We say and act in love over an over again because we want others to know how much we love them. And in so doing, we give others our spirit. I think it is the same with God.

He does not give us his spirit in a single "born again" experience but he extends it to us for all time. In Baptism the Spirit of God cleanses us from sin. God himself nourishes us with His body and blood with each celebration of Eucharist. In confirmation, the Bishop anoints us and prays, "Be filled with the Holy Spirit," and asks God to fill us with every gift and grace just as Jesus did to his disciples after his resurrection. God breaths forgiveness on us through the sacrament of Reconciliation. When we enter in the the sacred covenant of marriage we are able to express Ruah to our partner and act as Christ to one another. The Lord is constantly transforming us more and more into His image when we celebrate the sacraments!

Ruah, the breath of God named in Genesis at the creation of all things, in opening the gospel of John as the "Word," and in Acts 2 as "a strong driving wind," carries us through our lives as a sacramental and pilgrim people. So here we are (after anticipating the Messiah's birth through Advent; celebrating it at Christ Mass and the Christmas season; painfully walking with him through Lent to the cross; and victoriously celebrating his triumph over death at Easter) come to Pentecost and the fruitful planting of our gifts in the world by the indwelling of Ruah, The Breath of God!

May we, by the grace of God the Father, the love of Christ his son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be ever faithful to his call.

Pax Tecum!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Surround the Violence

I’m taking a course on trauma and crisis management this summer. Man what a ride! It’s daunting to think I’m actually supposed to help someone manage something so terrible that they can't even speak it. And if they do speak it every ear in the world will shatter and every eye will shed tears. How does a person hold so much hurt? How much strength does it take for them to carry such a burden, a burden that is never wanted, throughout their entire life? As I keep hearing, and personally know to be true, “the body does not forget.”

I know that I am unable to bring Peace to ever person that I meet. I know that I cannot heal their wounds. But I also know that I have to try! We exist in violent world full of trauma. You can’t even watch the evening news without catching second degree trauma! We live with imaginary violence in our entertainment and actual violence in our communities. We hear about violence committed on children and families by the ones they love most. Violence begets violence…

…and our Lord tells us to love and do no harm. More than that! To love and do good because of love!

In our reflection today it says:

“When we surround [violence] and immerse it in goodness, the earth moves a tiny bit closer to becoming what God intended.

Even the smallest act of love changes the balance of love in this world. Little by little, goodness grows. It’ll take a long time, and we don’t expect to live to see it finished. But that’s what we are called to do.” 

–Little White Book 2009

So today we are called to be mindful of our steps and “refrain from every kind of evil” (1 Thess 5:22). Refrain not only from evil to others but evil to yourself. Give yourself a break! You’re doing great!

May we, by the grace of God, the love and Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, act in love today and change the world!

Journey with us to Pentecost, the Fire is warm and waiting.

Pax Tecum!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Psalm 139: 1-16

Lord, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.

My travels and my rest you mark;
with all my ways you are familiar.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lord, you know it all.

Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is beyond me,
far too lofty for me to reach.

Where can I hide from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
If I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.

If I fly with the wings of dawn
and alight beyond the sea,

Even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely darkenss shall hide me,
and night shall be my light"

Darkness is not dark for you,
and night shines as the day.

Darkness and light are but one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I wonder...

Mark 16:9

... what Mary Magdalen felt as she stood there looking at Jesus after his resurrection. The Gospel of Mark tells us that after his resurrection he appeared to her first: this woman who he cast seven demons out of. She must have felt so much love for him! She must have been so excited to see him! I wonder if she gave him a hug or kissed him. Did she just collapsed in awe? Or, did she do a happy dance? I think that she must have felt those feelings that jump down into our stomach or ride in our chest when we reunite with an old friend or family who we have not seen in a very long time.

Every day is a resurrection day for us, a resurrection people! Each moment is an opportunity for us to express love! After all, they're supposed to know us by our love. Sit a moment today and imagine that you are Mary Magdalen... what do you feel? How will you allow that to change you?

Journey with us to Pentecost... The Fire is warm and waiting.

Pax Tecum!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Season of Easter, The Season of Resurrection!

For us, Easter does not end with a single day or a single celebration. From now until Pentecost we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Everyday we will celebrate the Mass in worship of our risen King who reigns in our hearts for the salvation of the world!

"The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus teaches that in Jesus Christ, human existence is not just continued. It is transformed... this human existence can be transformed in the paschal mystery into something magnificent, something that eye has not seen and ear has not heard.

By his dying on the cross and his rising to a transformed human life, Jesus has opened the door for us. He has shown us the way to follow.

To appreciate what we celebrate at Easter, I can think about the people I have known who have died...

When I think of them... and take in all the symbols of Easter... then a full realization and hope can come over me: Those who die in Christ are still with us in a living bond, and love still runs back and forth between us."

--The Little White Book Ten Minute Reflections on the Resurrection Narrative of Mark

Thinking on this brings me great comfort to know that our common baptism connects us in a "living bond" even after death. When I think of this living bond of love, I think about my great-great grandfather Richard H. Swaggart "Paw Bud" who was the first person in my family that I can remember dying and how I wish I could have known him better; I think of Brandel Johnson, a boy whose smile left the world far to quickly; I think about Annie Mae Swaggart who fervently prayed for her family; I imagine Walon Mobley giving me a toothy grin and how his hair was always perfect. I can still hear his laugh; I feel W. J. Kidd's painful pinch! I loved getting to know him. He was always patient with us boys.

And the list goes on and on...

...and we have hope! Hope that these ones, and all the saints, reside in the presence of God and smile on us, pray for us, and will welcome us when our turn to cross the plans of death come. What fear then should we have of anything? "Fear not!" the late John Paul II tells us. Our pastor is correct.

Journey with us... the Fire is warm and waiting.

Pax Tecum!