“I would approach them with love.”

This morning, I went to Mass at St. Alphonsus. It is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Today’s Gospel (John 1:35- 42) struck me deeply, and instead of making some phone calls on my walk after Mass, I decided to reflect on the Word as I walked through Ballard. I was led to have an encounter that I wanted to record and share.

First, the Gospel (John 1:35-42):

“35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples,

36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”*

37 The two disciples* heard what he said and followed Jesus.

38Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

39He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.*

40Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

41He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah”* (which is translated Anointed).z

42Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John;* you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).a

All through Fr. Richard’s homily and the rest of the Mass, I kept hearing Jesus’s question: “What are you looking for?” At first, I responded that I was looking for Him, but then I said “I’m looking for love.” It’s so hard to summarize in a coherent way on paper one’s thoughts during Mass, but this is what I reflected upon as I received the Eucharist and then afterwards, as I went on my walk afterwards. I had to go get some things at Fred Meyer, and the only way to do that was to walk through the light industrial area of Ballard that has become a place where many homeless people are now living. Usually, I would use this walk as an opportunity to make some phone calls, but I wanted to continue to hold on and contemplate the Gospel.

While there have always been homeless people living in Ballard, and in this area in general, there has been a huge increase, particularly in the past year. Many of these people are no longer living along the streets but have now moved around and into the parks. This morning, I walked through Gilman Park, where there are several encampments, including one near the playground. The last time I was at the park, I had an animated conversation with a young man who lived near the park about the situation.

This morning, I was walking past a young man trying to fix his red and gray tent set up on a grassy knoll near the tennis courts. The young man kept looking at me, so I made eye contact, raised my coffee cup to say hello and kept walking through the park.

“Excuse me,” the young man said. I stopped and looked back at him. He went from where he was working on his tent and came over to speak with me. As he got closer, I was able to see that he was a white man, probably in his twenties, wearing black and gray clothes with matted dreadlocks and tattoos on his face and hands. His hands were so dirty they were gray themselves.

“Someone slashed my tent,” he began.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“What would you do,” he continued, “if there was someone who was obsessed with you- her name is ___- and every time that you tried to push them away, they started doing things like slashing your tent?”

“Does this person live in the park?” I asked.

“No, but they keep on doing this, and I’m asking people trying to figure out what to do.”

I paused and stopped thinking and tried to be a conduit. “I would approach them with love. I don’t know who this person is, but you might want to approach them with love.”

He paused and looked at me. If I had to guess, I thought that as we were talking, he was sober and lucid. “You know, I’ve asked a bunch of people about this, and you’re the first person to say to approach them with love. I think I’ll try that. Thank you.” With that, he turned and walked back to the ruins of his tent.

Rainbow after the 2020 WA March for Life was not a coincidence

The super- faint by then, but it’s there rainbow over the Temple of Justice in Olympia, WA after the conclusion of the Washington March for Life on January 21, 2020.

On Tuesday, January 21st, 2020, I attended my first Mass for Life and March for Life as a correspondent for Northwest Catholic. Here’s my article.

It was quite an amazing experience to see more than 5,000 people gather in the pouring rain and driving wind on the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia, WA to show that they truly care about life. It was a group that spanned all ages, including the young woman holding the sign in the picture. On the reverse side of her sign, it said “Forgiveness is for everyone.” I really wanted to know her story, but she really didn’t seem like she wanted to be interviewed, so I’m letting her sign speak for her.

In fact, I spent so much time looking for parking that I didn’t really get a chance to interview many of the participants before the March for Life began, and besides, most of them were just trying to stay warm standing out in the crazy (even for Western Washington) rain. I followed a group who went in afterwards and got to speak with their Senator, as well as aides from their Legislators. Any time you see actual citizens go in and have face-to-face meetings with their representatives, it is extremely heartening. Did they change the heart and mind of their pro-choice state Senator? Probably not, but, as Sean Stewart, with the Legislative Advocacy Group at St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Renton said, “Our goal is to plant seeds. I could see that maybe a few got sprinkled on the ground and might be taking a little bit of root, we’ll see. It’s a long-term effort here, and I think we surprised him… we deliberately took a different tack this time based on something he told to us previously which was ‘Let’s find common ground.’”

Depending on the media you consume, you may feel that the pro-choice crowd has the upper hand at the moment, and perhaps they do. During the March for Life, the rain was coming down really hard and the wind threatened to rip away the tent over the podium where the speakers rallied the crowd. Yet, as the march concluded, I witnessed the rain let up for a few minutes and a faint rainbow appeared over the Temple of Justice across the way from the Legislative Building. That was a real, unmistakable message from someone who approved of what the Marchers were doing.

“Still, not my will, but yours be done.”

This past Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church in Seattle, Fr. Richard Klepac, in his homily for the Second Week of Advent, talked about the graces of the Holy Spirit and praying to God to give yourself over to His will. Not what we want to be doing, but what God wants us to do. Praying for this is very dangerous, Fr. Richard warned us, and I am thankful that he is right.

This past March, I began to write once again for Northwest Catholic, the magazine of the Archdiocese of Seattle. I had written for them in 2014-15, but my writing for them trailed off after I got another job. The last article I wrote for them became a cover story and ended up winning a 2016 Catholic Press Award. I framed it, and, while not quite forgetting about it, the award became just another thing on the wall in my office.

My 2016 CPA award. A tad bit of the frilly award edging is cut off, but you get the idea.

I continued to write, mainly on a novel that I later shelved and nothing for public consumption. During this time, I began to have experiences that drew me closer to Jesus and deeper into my Catholic faith. I often thought that it would be great to finally start writing again about Catholic stuff, but a little voice kept reminding me that I don’t have any theological training.

Eventually, I left that job, and my faith was a rock before, during, and after the transition. Once things had calmed down a bit, I started to think about writing for Northwest Catholic once again. Luckily, the editor that I worked with before was still there, and she was happy to have me back, so I began to write again.

They say you’re onto something career-wise when you don’t consider what you are doing to be work. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to travel around the Archdiocese to interview lots of great people about the great things they were doing and to write about it. Is this type of writing- dare I say it?- my charism?

This brings us back to the homily. As I sat there in the pew, I realized that I have done just about everything except give myself over to the path that God has been pointing me towards.

Yet, the little voice continued, and continues as I write this: Surely He can’t be calling me to write for Him? Well, why else would he have given me this gift? Maybe He didn’t want me to write the type of science fiction that I had been writing with little success (hint, hint), or anything else, except about Him.

So I prayed that dangerous prayer and ended up creating a Twitter and Facebook account for this site. I don’t know where all of this will take me, except to say that I hope it is in the direction where Jesus wants me to go. I will start providing more substantive content starting next week, and I hope you will find it interesting.

NW Catholic: North American Martyrs Parish celebrates first mass in its own church

A statue of Mary watches over the new home of North American Martyrs Parish in Edmonds, WA.

Here’s my latest article for Northwest Catholic about the blessing of North American Martyrs church in Edmonds, WA. North American Martyrs parish is a Latin Mass parish (FSSP) that has been looking for a permanent home since 2008. I wrote an article over the summer when they announced the purchase of the property and it was amazing to see the beautiful transformation of the site in just over three months.

The power of prayer manifested

A few weeks ago, Fr. Richard Klepac gave a homily at St. Alphonsus Parish in Seattle that touched on the power of prayer and its efficaciousness. One thing that he mentioned in particular that stuck with me for the rest of the day was to develop a habit of saying a prayer every time you hear sirens to pray for the person in need as well as for the first responders.

Later that evening, I heard a siren and started to pray a Hail Mary. As I prayed, the sirens got closer until finally I could hear them outside. I opened the front door and to my left I could see a column of flame shooting up into the night sky. There is a construction project going on across the street from our house and there was a fire right next to it. The firefighters were able to put it out, but if they had not arrived when they did, the new building would have probably caught on fire.

I asked the firefighters what had caused the fire and all they could tell at that point was that it had started in a plastic container. The next day, my daughter and I checked it out and found the remains of a port-a-potty and what looked like some clothes.

Abstract art, or the remains of a portable toilet that could have caused a huge fire?

I wanted to share this story because it is such a simple and profound example of the power of prayer.

God is listening. God answers our prayers. Most of the time, they will be answered on His own time, but sometimes He gives us clear, immediate responses that make you feel His presence in that moment.

Viva Christo Rey!

Back at Northwest Catholic!

I know that I have been remiss with providing new content lately, but I assure you that I have been writing. I have started a new novel that I am over 20K words into, and I started writing again back in the spring for Northwest Catholic.

My latest article is about two students at Christ the King school who were part of a team that developed an award-winning anti-bullying video game.

I have updated my Northwest Catholic portfolio page that has links to all of my articles that I should have been letting you know about when they were first published. Rest assured that I will let you know when I have any new articles published in the future!

Ora et Labora

My article about Our Lady of the Rock Monastery, a community of Benedictine nuns was the cover story in the July/August 2015 print edition.

Here’s a link to the online version of the story- Ora et Labora: On Shaw Island, Benedictine nuns share lives of work, prayer and hospitality

When I first contacted Northwest Catholic about writing for them, I pitched this story idea. After writing a bunch of online articles for them, they decided to let me write the story.

I had came across the monastery a couple of years ago when searching for Benedictine communities in Washington state. They sounded really interesting, but I never really had a reason to go to Shaw Island. My wife, daughter and I went for an afternoon visit last summer as part of a vacation to the San Juan Islands and I returned earlier this year to get more background for my article. It is a beautiful, holy place. I was glad to hear that the Mothers liked my article and I hope to visit them again soon.