Into the Deep

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

Vilnius Image of Divine Mercy (detail) by Kazimierowski

Trust in the Lord’s Divine Mercy

All Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation are celebrations of the highest importance on the Church’s liturgical calendar. These days, plus a few others, are known as solemnities. Two solemnities are so important that the Church celebrates them for eight days. We call these solemnities, octaves. They are Christmas and Easter. Essentially, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday are celebrated for […]

"The Resurrection of Christ" (detail) by Bloch

Our New Life in the Risen Christ

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! What more fitting conclusion to a week of drama wrought by sin could there be than the triumph of Life over death! There is so much about Easter to help us live our lives in our day. Surely we can more fully embrace all that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us today if we go […]

"Christ's Entry into Jerusalem" by Hippolyte Flandrin

The Paradox of the Cross — Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

The Cross is the great paradox of Christianity. More than a few people have asked me over the years why the Catholic Church focuses so prominently and persistently on the Crucifix. One inquirer even suggested that the Crucifix hanging above the Altar is too intense a reminder of the sorrow in the world and that she would never join a […]

"The Raising of Lazarus" (detail) Carl Bloch

The Path to Life Leads Through Death

A reflection on the the Raising Lazarus — proclaimed during the Mass readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A) — Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-2. The Final Journey to Jerusalem Begins The account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus is the seventh of the seven signs in St. John’s […]

"Jesus Opens the Eyes of the Man Born Blind" (detail) by Duccio

What Can We Learn from the Healing of the Man Born Blind?

A reflection on the the Healing of the Man Born Blind — proclaimed during the Mass readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A) — First Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17. In St. John’s Gospel, there is the account of the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41). It is the […]

"The Annunciation" (detail) by Van der Weyden

The Annunciation—When All Creation Held its Breath

The Moment There is a moment in time which defines all history; a moment to which all that came before, all that has come after and all that is yet to come, points as supremely significant.  On March 25th of each Liturgical Year, we remember the event that took place then—the moment when the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her fiat to God’s request that was […]

"Christ and the Woman of Samaria" (detail) by Paolo Veronese

Jesus Offers You Living Water

A reflection on the the encounter of the Woman of Samaria with Jesus at Jacob’s Well and proclaimed during the Mass readings for the Third Sunday of Lent (Year A) — Exodus 17:3-7; Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19-26, 39. The Gospel from the Third Sunday of Lent (Year A) is the story of the encounter of Jesus and […]

"The Transfiguration (detail)" by Raphael

In a Fallen World, Suffering is Transfigured through Love

Reflection on the Mass readings for the Second Sunday of Lent (Year A) — Genesis 12:1-4; Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; Second Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9. 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 […]

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

Biblical Truth About Fasting

Last week, I asked the question, “Are you looking for the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ?” and responded by exploring the reasons for the Catholic practice of self-denial. We saw that “fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, helps us, by God’s grace, to […]

"Christ in the Desert (detail)" by Ivan Kramskoy

Why Catholics Practice Fast and Abstinence?

Would you like to know the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ? Of course you would.  We all would. Our bookstores are filled with books written to help us advance in prayer and the spiritual life. The “secret” we all look for is really no secret at all.  At its heart, the gospel message is one […]