Live by the Spirit of God!!

Live by the Spirit of God!!

Christmas has always been a very sentimental time for me. That comes, first, by grace, but also through my parents. Both mom and dad have passed into eternity, and I feel their prayers everyday. I pray for them (see how here) constantly. This is our relationship now, each having each other’s “six” (I’ve Got Your Six).

Mother Teresa memeIn my homily this year, I brought in my fond memories of mom and dad. They taught me many things, but the most important was “to live by the Spirit of God” or as dad said a million times, “Live life to the fullest!” What does that mean? It means, as mom and dad exemplified so well, that we are called to “make each others day.”

Mom was the epitome of graciousness and hospitality. She always seemed to have the energy to extend herself in true charity to all she met, and she always seemed to have plenty of extra energy to “help” whenever it was needed. Our family was one of the most involved in parish life, and mom was always finding reasons to gather people together to just share each others company. Mom loved all of the preparations for hospitality, and she never went half way.

Dad could be described as one big bucket of joy. I was visiting the nursing home last week, and Helen (a parishioner from a former parish) just blurted out, “I miss Wally and his polkas.” What Helen was referring to is that my dad, very often after just meeting someone for the first time, would not just shake their hand, he would grab them (a complete stranger, recall) and start dancing a polka with them. Folks would just howl in laughter, no matter how they were feeling before that.

My parents had seven children, and dad spent most of his adult life trying to get a family business going (through two recessions). But, they always had “time and energy left over for others,” as they volunteered for everything and stopped and took care of people whenever they saw need. Mom was on every committee at the parish and, at one point, dad coached all of the sports teams at our Catholic grade school.

The photo above is one of my favorites. Dad is about the age I am now in that photo. Raising seven kids, running a family business through difficult economic times, coaching and volunteering … dad seemed to always have energy left over to do stuff like this. That’s a ten foot high snowman, made into Santa (with food coloring), that dad spent hours and hours to make it just right. That photo was in the Wisconsin State Journal that year, and people came from miles around to see it.

Where did mom and dad get all of this energy? It is very simple. They knew where their “life force” came from. Both mom and dad were very devout Catholics. Mom was a daily Mass goer. God bless Fr. Schuster who kept offering a 6:30 AM Mass for all the years (35) he was pastor at St. Maria Goretti in Madison, WI, even though mom (and sometimes the parish secretary) were the only ones there every morning. Both mom and dad were faithful to frequent Confessions, and both adhered to absolutely everything the Church taught. In other words, they could not conceive of a life lived away from God … their “life source.” They kept drawing from wellspring of all life, and God filled them to overflowing.

You see? Once we submit to that reality, we are set free from weight of worldly burdens. Once we come home to God, and stay home, He pours such a huge amount of supernatural grace into us, that it spills out into the lives of those around us. Mom and dad would, quite literally, splash onto the scene of everyone they encountered, and pour all of the “left-over” grace they had into the lives of others.

St. Paul describes this so beautifully …

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.


If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-25).

Jesus summed it up this way …

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Mom and dad did not allow themselves to be consumed by the burdens of life, allowing them to sap their “spiritual energy” … their supernatural grace … they understood that they were loved by God in a way that exceeds our understanding, and they could live no other life, but for God. They just wanted to “stay home in His embrace,” and God gave them a torrent of overflowing grace … plenty left over to spill into the lives of others.

Today is Christ’s birthday. The only gift He really wants is to have you home. Come home, and live by the Spirit of God!!

Love you, mom and dad!! And I love you all too!! Merry Christmas!!


Dad’s Christmas letter from around the year 2000.


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