Into the Deep

Into the Deep offers practical insight and encouragement for being a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.  Deacon Bickerstaff draws from Sacred Scripture, Church teaching and personal testimony to help readers life the faith throughout the day. Each week, he reflects and teaches on a passage from the bible, a truth of the faith, a Person of God, an event in the life of Christ or his saints, in a way that resonates with readers more important questions about life.

Self-Satisfied or Self-Aware

"Conversion of Saint Paul" (detail) by Caravaggio

“We must ask ourselves a question. Which attitude do I represent? Am I self-satisfied in how I live? Or am I honest and self-aware about my weakness and sins and committed to my humble efforts to live in faith and strive for holiness?” The Mass readings for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) are Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; Psalms 34:2-3, […]

A Timeless Warning to the Complacent

"Universal Judgement" (detail) by Michelangelo

“If we ask, we will receive the grace to remain and grow in fidelity to God. At the Eucharistic celebration, we are invited to receive the Lord and be nourished at His banquet – the strong and weak, the rich and poor, all of us together – so as to go forth into a world in need, carrying the love […]

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Photography © by Carmelite Sister of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25) But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are […]

Receive, O Lord — Take all of me!

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

There is a great old popular jazz standard written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simons titled All of Me that is one of my favorite tunes.  I particularly like the rendition performed by Louis Armstrong and another done later by Willie Nelson. The song is about a fellow who lost his heart to a girl who left him, so he […]

Lord, will those who are saved be few?

"Universal Judgement" (detail) by Michelangelo

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 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, there will be […]

Casting Fire Ablaze

"Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem" (detail) by Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Luke 12:49).   The Growth and Spread of the Christian Faith At a time when God’s Chosen People had been living under an oppressive spiritual darkness for well over five-hundred years, He sent His divine light – the light of men and women […]

The Search for Meaning and Purpose

"The Parable of the Rich Fool" by Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does Life Have Meaning? What is the meaning of life? This a question each of us asks, sometimes without any awareness at all. The search for the meaning of life has filled books throughout history. At heart, we are all philosophers searching for meaning. At heart, we ought to love wisdom, but too often we play the fool. The book of […]

Discover What Jesus Teaches About Prayer

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

Why is there so much interest in prayer and yet so little praying? Discover what Jesus teaches us about the essential qualities of prayer. 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 […]

The Holy Bible and Sacred Tradition comprise the Word of God

"St. Jerome Writing" (detail) by Caravaggio

“Deacon Mike, why do we believe that it belongs to the Church to interpret the bible? Can’t we just read the bible for ourselves? The guys I do bible study with say that we (Catholics) add things that are not there.” A young man who participates in a “non-denominational” bible study asked me this question. This question comes up from time to […]

Into the Deep—Flower of Carmel

"The Madonna of Carmel and the Souls of the Purgatory" (detail) by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Every year on July 16, Carmelites throughout the world celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patroness of the Carmelite Order.  If you want to know how we feel about Mary, our Mother, spend a few minutes reflecting on one of the most beautiful prayers ever written, the Flos Carmeli. Most of us pray—before meals, morning and/or night prayers, […]