Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

A blog by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff about practical faith for ordinary daily life.

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

A Faith that is Mature

There are two dangers to the spiritual life that are all too common. First, we can spend so much time learning about God through study that we never come to know him in prayer. In this sense, study becomes a false god. Second, our efforts at “doing and ministering” become all about the “serving” and not about the one who […]

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me

“In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” Editor’s note: As we remember the victims of September 11, 2001 in our prayers, we can reflect and find consolation in the following truth of God’s love and Providence in and over our lives. Deep within each of us is a hunger and thirst. For some, the feeling is so strong that […]

"The Stoning of St. Stephen" (detail) by Rembrandt"The Stoning of St. Stephen" (detail) by Rembrandt

Is it okay for Catholics to call their priests “Father”?

[NB: Do not miss the video at the end of this article. You will be blessed. —Deacon Mike] “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven” (Matthew 23:9). Throughout history, including that time since the days when Jesus uttered these words, we have referred to others on earth as father. This title is used […]

"Supper at Emmaus" (detail) by Caravaggio"Supper at Emmaus" (detail) by Caravaggio

Practical Suggestions for Spiritual Growth

What Life’s All About When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them sanctifying grace, that is, they were able to partake in the Divine Nature—they had a share of the Divine Life in their souls. They had no right to this grace; it was freely given them by God. They also were granted what is referred to as the […]

"General Judgment" (detail) by Michelangelo"General Judgment" (detail) by Michelangelo

Lord, will those who are saved be few?

I once heard a comment from a friend who was preparing a homily for today’s passage from Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 13:22-30). He was finding it difficult to preach on the “fact” that there will be so few in heaven. He has no problem on preaching about death, judgment, Heaven and Hell; but, he is disturbed and sad that, in his understanding, […]

"The Assumption of the Virgin" (detail) by Guido Reni"The Assumption of the Virgin" (detail) by Guido Reni

What we should know about the Dormition and Assumption of Mary

On August 15th of each Liturgical Year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the United States, the assumption is ordinarily a Holy Day of Obligation, but because it falls on Monday this year, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated: “Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of […]

"The Transfiguration (detail)" by Raphael"The Transfiguration (detail)" by Raphael

Suffering Transfigured

The love in which God embraces each of us is one of the great truths revealed to us throughout salvation history, but especially through and in Jesus Christ. To come to a better and deeper understanding of this love, we are continually invited by God into a deeper communion of prayer with Him… to come to know Him as He […]

"King David in Prayer (detail)" by Pieter de Grebber"King David in Prayer (detail)" by Pieter de Grebber

The Qualities of Prayer Taught by the Lord

In my parish ministry and work around the archdiocese, one of the questions I receive most frequently is like the question posed to Our Lord in Luke’s Gospel, “He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1) People simply […]

"The Sermon on the Mount" (detail)
Carl Bloch, 1890"The Sermon on the Mount" (detail) Carl Bloch, 1890

To Hear and Receive the Word Proclaimed

In paragraphs 135 – 144 of Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father speaks about the importance of the homily within the liturgical celebration. Right off the bat, Pope Francis describes what the homily can and should be, “an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth” (¶ 135). In […]