Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Mystery of TV's, Shotguns, and Podcasts.

A priest recently said in a homily, 
"The best thing you can do for yourself and your family would be to take your TV in the backyard and shoot it with a shotgun."


And before I say anymore, please do not hear what I'm not saying (famously coined term by Fr. John Kartje - Rector at my Alma Mater Mundedein Seminary). I'm not saying that TV's, smartphones, and tablets are bad or evil. However, I am saying that we as a culture in America have become addicted to certain forms of technology in a certain sense. (See etymology of the word addict to see what I am saying). 

Anywho - I'm a weirdo and I do not own a TV. So I began to think of what to do to fill the void. I mean TV's, phones, and technology in a general are almost everywhere. So overtime my friends would speak about their favorite podcasts. So I had this genius idea! I too shall begin to listen to podcasts. Woah! Yes! I'm now a podcast junkie. For myself, I'm a tapeworm when it comes to learning. I enjoy hearing something first then going to read up. Some of you may be bookworms and I say, "I'm jealous of your ability to sit down and just read." 

[Short Rant: Does that mean I can't watch the Packer games? YES....IT....DOES! The Packers or any professional sports team plays every year and they win some and they lose some. Yet people are becoming more depressed, suicidal, and lonely. We have bigger fish to fry these days. Get outside and listen to the games on the radio. Life's too short!]

Alright, cut to the chase padre!

So what do I listen to or recommend listening to instead of watching TV?

"Stuff you should know" podcasts are great, but hey I'm a Catholic Priest now so I'm going to recommend a few that will help engage your Catholic heart so you can engage those who are disengaged. Let's be honest. It has not been better for the world or the common good with less and less people going to Church and not praying. 

Turn off the TV.

Check out: Discerning Hearts @

Turn off the TV.

Check out: Catholic Stuff You Should Know @

Turn off the TV.

Check out: The Liturgy Guys @

Turn off the TV.

Check out: Catholic Answers @

Turn off the TV.

Check out: Time and the Mystery @
(Has some language that may offend you from time to time)

I encourage you to spend some time listening and being a fly on the wall in these podcasts. You may find it to be a breath of fresh air. Maybe you should not take your TV and shoot it with a shotgun today, but we need to learn how to use your technology in a way that will be fulfilling instead of enraging. 

Turn off the TV.

My name is Fr. Zach. 

I'm a podcast junkie and I do not own a TV.

Living in the mystery,

Fr. Zach Weber

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Mystery of My Call to the Priesthood and Corpus Christi

All attached is my homily from this weekend at St. Mary's in Greenville.
 Please feel free to share and comment. May God be with you.
- Deacon Zach Weber

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Mystery of Constipation with 2 Broken Legs

Constipated . . . full of . . . well you know

Often I meet people who truly desire, who truly want to love and serve Jesus Christ. However, what they seem to struggle with "the all or nothing attitude, disposition, commitment" that Jesus and His bride the Church requires. Internally, in the sense of their spiritual life, they are constipated. I've been there before so I am not pointing fingers at people, but I am pointing at the disposition of being spiritually constipated. People seem to have so much "crap" keeping them weighed down that they remain on the fence of keeping their faith 100 - being all in.  Sometimes this struggle is very visible. The struggles of spiritual constipation are mostly seen in the eyes after someone makes a bold claim that they are all in or take a stand for the faith, but then you see them falling into temptations . . . making decisions that are contrary to the heart of Christ and then they see you. The person immediately seems to think we are here to judge them without mercy, but rather they freeze in some way or another, they freeze looking spiritually full of (well you know).

I offer you a meditation if you struggle with spiritual constipation. It is best to review your own life before reviewing the life of another.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, struggled with spiritual constipation in one way: vanity. Can you believe it? A saint who struggled? If you are under the assumption that saints have always lived perfect lives then I encourage you ask God right now to reveal to you the truth of the mystery of true sainthood and daily sanctification. Seriously do it! That would be more powerful than this story.

As the story goes, young Ignatius was a young soldier and he eventually found himself bedridden from taking a canon ball to the shin, which broke his leg.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pray for Us!!!!
Anyways, he was bedridden for almost a year. While he was on his bed he would imagine and meditate upon his return to the battlefield while sweeping a lady off of her feet and they would ride off into the sunset. That was his dream. Providentially, his sister came to visit him and gave him a book on the saints. He meditated on the lives of the saints. He thought, why can't I be the next Saint Francis of Assisi or St. Dominic? (I hope you ask yourself that same question.) He would meditate on sweeping a woman off of her feet and then on the lives of the saints. Suddenly, he found that he would be in much longer meditation while meditating on the lives of the saints compared to his own fantasies of focusing on his own ego in being the knight in shining armor. We all too need to let our ego die if we truly desire be formed into the saint Jesus created us to be.

If the dragon in this picture is not our ego then all we do in life is in vain.

Once he was healthy, he came up with many meditations (search for The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola). They are so worth checking out. However, once he could walk, he saw that his shin bone set unevenly and people would be able to see a little nub of the bone. He was so vain, that he had his leg broken again . . . without pain killers!!!! OUCH! He was bed ridden once more and had now broken his leg twice. While being commissioned to his bed and coming up with his own meditations on the 2 banners . . . the 2 standards. . .  he came up with a meditation that we should all be looking at daily.

St. Ignatius overcame his own vice of vanity with meditating heavily and often upon the 2 banners.

All vices (sin) squeeze us so we cannot be free to live virtuous lives.

He came up with the meditation of the 2 Banners. (Also known as the 2 standards) At the end of the days battle, we all either live for Christ or for Satan. We all either live under the Banner of Christ and his church along with Mary and the saints and angles of heaven or we live under the darkness of the Banner of Satan with all the evil forces that belong to him. This meditation will hopefully help you discover where you need to focus the light of Christ in your life so you can more fully carry the Banner of Christ and be healed from your own weakness that causes you to fall under the Banner of Satan. It is our job to keep it 100! We must be all in ourselves then we can minister to others who find themselves spiritually constipated. We cannot give what we do not have and we must refuse to ask others to do what we ourselves do not practice.

Check out this resource for further info:

A video to help you look at the 2 Banners - the 2 Standards

The Banner of Christ is held the highest when we go to confession with a true and contrite heart and then receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ at Mass.

St. Ignatius says you either hold 2 banners in life as you march into the battle of daily life - Either you carry the banner of Jesus and his Church or you carry the banner of Satan and all of his dark lies. There is no grey in that. It is black and white. Yes you can struggle in carrying a banner, but the idea is ask yourself:

  • AM I FREE?

So meditate on that and don't sit idle . . . you may become constipated  . . .

It is good to meditate on this. Black and White. Jesus or Satan. Heaven or Hell.

The Church needs more spiritual athletes . . . more spiritual soldiers.

Living in the Mystery (and under the Banner of Christ),

Zach Weber

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Mystery of the Heavy Christmas Knot

Merry Christmas Friends and Family!

Christmas is right around the corner and up here in Wisconsin we are expecting record highs . . . in temperatures.  So far in this winter season we've had about 6.5 inches . . . of rain! It has been strange and mysterious in many ways, especially rising every morning to green grass on the ground. Apart from strangeness, I write to all of you in thanksgiving for your prayers as we anticipate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in 2015. Also, I write to update you with a couple of events that will materialize soon. The Holy Spirit has been very good to me in 2015 and continues to consecrate this journey to the priesthood in ways that words cannot even begin to touch the depth of my gratitude to all who support, sacrifice, and pray for seminarians.

As many of you know, I'm discerning the call the priesthood, but before that ordination occurs I need to be ordained a Transitional Deacon. This will occur on May 22nd at 3PM of this upcoming spring. With that being stated, the weight of the whole situation is becoming more and more "incarnational." God became incarnate - became man to become like us in ever way, but sin. This idea still reigns supreme in the mystery of Christianity as major distinguishing difference from all other religions. God became man in all things apart from sin (see Hebrews 4:15).

As the date of May 22nd approaches, I find myself feeling the mysterious weight, the weight of what I'll be saying “no” to in order to more fully and radically say “yes” to Jesus and his bride the Church. I've had to tie the knot in my tie a few times already this break and every time I tie the knot it becomes more and more mysteriously heavy. The heaviness of the reality of ordination is setting in this last Christmas break before making promises of Celibacy, Obedience, and Prayer to the Bishop. This means that next Christmas I'll be wearing a collar for Christmas as a transitional deacon of Jesus Christ. Ordination is one way of saying no to tying the knot in marriage and the possibility being blessed with children. Ordination is a big deal, but the Lord strangely gave me a mission to love as a celibate man for the sake of his kingdom. Every time I tie the knot in my tie this Christmas season it will be a “last of many last’s” in one fashion or another.

While the weight of tying knots before ordination is becoming more "incarnational" there is a large amount of anticipation and excitement. In a week I'll be attending my Canonical Retreat for Diaconate Ordination where a priest and I will go over the “Rite of Ordination to the Order of Deacon” for 5 days. Please pray for Fr. John Luke of the Community of St. John from December 29th until January 4th. Pray that, through the intercession “Our Lady Undoer of Knots” I receive the graces necessary to die to self so the Lord may more fully live through me, in me, and with me as he desires.

After the retreat I'll be in the area for a few more days. Then on January 15th the 3rd Theology Class of Mundelein Seminary will fly to the Holy Land for 10 weeks.      We will be on pilgrimage to all the major holy sites in Bethlehem, Galilee, Jerusalem, and more! This will be a time of intense and intimate discernment. I will offer up many prayers in thanksgiving for all of you as my feet, knees, heart, and lips touch the very soil that Jesus and his disciples walked on.

My heart is very grateful for the sacrifices that make this pilgrimage possible. This will be a life changing pilgrimage and I hope to come back with many stories about the Holy Land Pilgrimage of 2016. You will be able to follow all of the Mundelein Seminarians on a blog if you wish. That blog site is being constructed as we speak and I will be one of the bloggers. Google searching for "2016 Mundelein Pilgrimage" should lead you to us.

The Third Theology Class is planned to arrive back at Mundelein on March 15th. We will all celebrate Holy Week the following week in our prospective dioceses with a deeper and more intimate awareness of the Paschal Mystery (Paschal Mystery = Jesus' Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension). Then we will all tie the heavy knots of Holy Week and Easter in our ties for the last time before being ordained to the Order of Deacon(s) for Jesus, for the Church, for Mary, for the saints, and for each and every one of you.

May God Bless All of Your Endeavors This Christmas and New Year!

Living in the Mystery,

Zach Weber

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Mystery of Thanksgiving: Going Cold Turkey On Complaining

Thanksgiving. . . Thanksgiving is coming and that means we will probably encounter at least a few reasons to complain about something or someone. Is it not an oxymoron to complain on Thanksgiving? Our culture seems to form us to point out the flaws in something or someone instead of pointing to what is good, true, and beautiful.  We seem to be culturally conditioned to complain.

An Oxymoron

Why do we complain so much?

Why do we more quickly complain than give thanks?

Why do we not thank God for everything?

Why do we only seem happy unless we complain? (ok that last one is a joke)

            These questions have been bothering at me for the past few years. They have been bothering me because a few years ago a wise young woman told me, “God can not form an ungrateful heart.” I was taken a back by her wisdom and how true this statement was. I found myself seeing very clearly and how rarely I thanked people or God for anything. Additionally, I began to notice how difficult it was to receive thanks and/or praise. I saw how quickly the culture of death had been teaching me to seek what is wrong, ugly, or bad rather than first seeking what is good, true, beautiful, and praiseworthy. This culture of death put up walls to any potential toward growing into a deeper relationship with God.

Often, we hit walls in the spiritual life and fall back into old habits that pull us further away from forming a deeper interior life.  What is lacking is taking the words above of “an ungrateful heart” to heart.  Reflect on these questions: 
  • How often do you say thank you? 
  • How often do you give praise and thanks to God? 
  • Does it occur only when it seems relevant or convenient? 
  • How do we begin to seek what is good, true, and beautiful first rather than the negative aspects of life or people?

A couple of suggestions or things to ponder in forming a grateful heart . . .

            One of the best spiritual practices is to practice a daily list of saying thank you and giving praise/honor/glory to God. Thank for all of the blessings in life – especially the things you take for granted. Yes, that even means something as simple as toilet paper. And if you want to go deeper – I would challenge you to say thank you for everything. Be not afraid! Yes, even the things that hurt or don’t seem to make any sense right now. Thank God for him taking care of it so you can remain in the present moment. Thank Him even the things that might stress you out. Why do I invite and challenge you to do this? Well first of all, “God can’t form an ungrateful heart.” Yep! You guessed it! This means that God CAN form a grateful heart. Also, it is an act of faith, trust, and humility in knowing that “where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more” (Romans 5:20). But do you believe that – in your heart of hearts?  Or is it merely lip service? We need more “heart service” than lip service. 
 Additionally, have you ever listened with your heart at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the priest says, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks . . .” (see Eucharistic Prayer II). SAY WHAT? Read that again. It is: right, just, our duty and salvation, always and every where . . . TO GIVE GOD THANKS? Well that is what our faith preaches and teaches. But do we practice what we believe? The wisdom of our faith is so deep and rich that only the faith of Jesus Christ can satisfy the deep longings of the mystery hidden within the human heart. However, to understand this truth . . .  a formed heart must be felt, known, etc through our experiences in our daily habits and practices in this mystery we call life. Try it! As it is said in the movie Christmas Story: I triple dog dare you!

            Going even deeper . . .

If you challenge yourself to begin "little by little" (poco a poco) to give thanks to God for everything, your life will begin to change dramatically. Why? The reason why your life will begin to change dramatically is that you will thank God for the things you used to complain about. You may even spiritual growing pains, which make you feel uncomfortable because God is stretching your heart, your mind, and your will. You will soon forget how to complain because the eyes of your heart will begin to see that everything is a gift from God. How? By allowing God to be God. God can and will bless anything from our past and make it beautiful and shine with light . . . if you give him permission.
For example, you will begin to notice the people that used to get on your nerves will be blessings instead of annoyances. You will see them as a gift from God. They will help you grow. You will begin to look inward and ask yourself, “What is it in me that is unable to love that person.” You will forget about your wants, needs, desires, etc and will be other focused. As Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta says, "Will I be bitter or better?" This will move your heart to pray more – to die to self more so he can live (Jn 3:30) and to ask for more graces from God to love as He loves. 
For when we only accept/love some and reject others we create barriers – we remove any sense of unity. Be not afraid! Jesus deeply desires unity. We need the Holy Spirit to help us gently bring down these barriers that blind us to truly see Jesus in others and be Jesus to others. You will begin to see, feel, and know everyone as a gift from God because that is truly what they are and SO ARE YOU :). Ponder this: Have you ever thanked God for the gift your life? We cannot give thanks for others if we are not grateful for our own life. Boredom can creep in too. 
In a variety of settings, when you are bored in a group of people and begin to have a more grateful heart, you will find yourself being more concerned about others than yourself. You will begin to think of ways how someone else may find something interesting rather than complaining of what you do not care about. You will begin to forget that you do not find something amusing or interesting due to the new disposition of your heart.  You will give thanks to God for the new self-awareness, other-awareness, and divine-awareness. Lastly, you will begin to see how fleeting material items are and you will begin to be more content with who you are, with what you have been given instead of complaining about what you do not have or being envious of what others have.

And going even deeper . . . Giving thanks like a saint.

            If you want to take it a step further I encourage you to commit to the wisdom of St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese often found it difficult to bear the burdens of someone she found annoying. Did you hear that? A saint who struggled with other people? It’s true! Our Little Flower found it very tempting to complain. However, she formed a habit through fervent prayer of giving praise and thanks to God. She would think of 10 reasons to give thanks and praise to God for the person instead of complaining about him/her. If she began to struggle with not being able to think of 10 reasons to give praise and thanks to God for a person, she would thank God for the suffering she was able to participate in. Then she would offer up her sufferings in supplications of prayer for the person who she was annoyed with or struggled to love. She learned to accept her littleness and began to rely on God’s grace more than her talent. What this saintly practice does is allow us to accept and love others as they are instead of trying to change them . . .  bring them to where we are in life and refusing to meet them where they are at in life. This mystery called God, who is Love (1 Jn 4:8) is what will change your heart and then the hearts of others.

St. Therese - The Little Flower

            So here is the challenge I’ve desired to give when I first started writing this blog today –

This Thanksgiving and Advent Season:
Do not complain about anything.

Yep. That's right! No complaining – notta  - zilch – zip - nothing.
Bit your tongue if you have to and give thanks to God instead. Or say thanks to God out loud for the suffering or challenging situation. Sometimes I say “Praise God!” when interiorly I’m struggling because of the hope we are asked to have that God can bless anything. Getting stressed and givign up can be a temptation of the evil in preventing a grace that Jesus so deeply desires to give us to more deeply console our poor little souls. When you fall (not fail) . . . repent (turn to God)– tell God you are sorry – Go to confession if you need to for extra grace. God will form your ungrateful and possibly hardened heart into a beautiful grateful heart. Firmly refuse to fall into the habit of complaining about everything. When others around you complain, thank God for that because you can offer up your annoyance in prayer for that persons conversion. Reject being culturally conditioned to complain and Accept the invitation from God to give thanks and praise always. This might not make sense right now, but that’s why it is called a mystery – it’s a part of faith that calls us daily to deeper conversion.

Have a life changing Thanksgiving and Advent Season!

Living in the Mystery,

Zach Weber