Into the Deep

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

"Christ, the Good Shepherd" (detail) by Murillo

Be Not Afraid—Trust in the Good Shepherd

A Growing Concern We live in a world that is at times dark and dangerous. In a moment all can change; our earthly lives can end. Deadly violence unlooked for, unexpected, senseless and sudden can come from natural and man-made sources. That the world is filled with sin, violence and death is mankind’s choice, not God’s will. He permits our freedom […]

"The Annunciation" (detail) by Van der Weyden

The Annunciation—The Moment 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 (April 9 this year due to March 25 observing Palm Sunday), we remember the event that took place then—the moment when the […]

Vilnius Image of Divine Mercy (detail) by Kazimierowski

Trust in Jesus and His Divine Mercy

Jesus Asks for the Feast of the Divine Mercy Happy Easter! Jesus loves you so much! He desires you to be washed in His mercy and be in communion with Him. Jesus appeared to a young Polish girl, St. Faustina, beginning in 1924, before she entered religious life. He gave her a series of messages and an image of His […]

"The Resurrection of Christ" (detail) by Bloch

New Life in 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

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

Death is not the Final Answer

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 Gospel that announce the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant and the passing away of the old rites, replaced by the grace and sacraments of Jesus Christ. It is also the […]

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

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

In St. John’s Gospel, there is the account of the healing of the man born blind (John 9:1-41). It is the sixth of the seven signs recounted by St. John that announce the fulfillment of the Old Covenant in the New Covenant and the passing away of the old rites, replaced by the grace and sacraments of Jesus Christ. It is […]

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

Living Water that Never Runs Dry

The Gospel from the Third Sunday of Lent (Year A), John 4:5-42, is the story of the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  The Elect (those preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil) undergo the First Scrutinies on this Sunday and this gospel passage is central to their journey. This passage is filled with imagery and […]

"Moses Breaking the Tablets" (detail) by Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Are You Living Well?

Liberation from Slavery Are you living well? Are you living in Christ? Or perhaps you have lost your way… become enslaved to sin. We must never take life in Christ for granted. The Book of Exodus, from which today’s first reading is taken, is the story of how God liberated the people of Israel from Egypt. In a deeper, more […]

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

The 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 […]