Tag Archives: Reconciliation

“Beauty in Belief” Blog Interview

Deacon in Melbourne.jpg

The wonderful women of faith over at the Beauty in Belief blog have just published an interview they did with me this month. I cover a wide range of topics that include: the diaconate, the redefinition of marriage, Planned Parenthood, fallen away Catholics, and ongoing conversion.

Click HERE to read the interview.

BTW, the photo above was taken while speaking at Faith on Tap at the Pineapple Hotel (Kangaroo Point) in Brisbane, Australia during my October 2012 Year of Faith Tour sponsored by Parousia Media.

And YES, I’m holding my rosary!

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Beyond the Zimmerman Verdict

Just had an article published in The Catholic World Report called “Beyond the Zimmerman Verdict.” The truth will set you free.

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Deacon Harold and Colleen Invite You To Do Something Special for Your Marriage in This Year of Faith!

TGC Jamaica

Great Christmas present for your spouse!
Register for your trip by December 24th, 2012 &

ENTER TO WIN your trip PAID IN FULL by Deacon Harold!

Registration deadline is December 31st, 2012
For more information, see details below or contact Kristina Erdmann
What will the Couples Getaway do for you and your spouse?

·      Establish a strong spiritual foundation and deeper commitment to seeking God together.

·      Show more affection, reverence, and esteem for each other.

·      Develop loving habits that will become part of your everyday life.

·      Rekindle the love, joy, and passion you once felt in your relationship.

  • Event:                         Couples Retreat 2013
  • Dates:                         April 3rd – 8th, 2013
  • Location:                    Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Hotel:

Price Includes:           

Daily Couples Seminar with Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

One-on-one sessions with Deacon Harold and Colleen Burke-Sivers

Round trip airport-hotel-airport transfers

Five nights of accommodations (Garden View Room)

All inclusive resort plan (meals, drinks, most non-motorized water sports)

To Register:   

1) Fill out the registration form HERE.

 –Please use Full Name as shown on passport.
2) Non-refundable deposit of $250.00 upon registration.
3) Contact Brenda for flight information and purchase.
                                              bmcclain@allseasonstravel.com

 4) Make final payment of $2550.00 and $2850.00 (Ocean View) by January 15th, 2013

5) Secure a passport by January 31st, 2013.

Cancellation deadline: January 1st, 2013

Pre-Registration FAQ’s

What information will I need to book the Couples Retreat?
            Full Legal Name (as seen on your passport)
            Date of Birth
            Any health concerns we should know about
            Citizenship
            Address
            Phone Number
            Email Address
            Emergency Contact Information
Who may attend the Couples Retreat?
Deacon Harold’s Couples Getaway in Jamaica is for married couples of any age.  The Couples Getaway is meant for couples who want to re-connect on a deeper level with Christ and each other.
What is NOT INCLUDED in the price of the Couples Getaway?
            Airfare
            Items of personal nature (phone calls, internet, laundry, etc)
            Spa and Salon
            Any meals off property
            Travel Insurance (this can be purchased separately)
Is it possible to book our own room and pay to participate in the retreat?
There are only 20 couples allowed into the program, and each couple needs to purchase the package deal in order to take advantage of this worthwhile event.
Pre-Trip Details
What day/time should we arrive?
Arrive on April 3rd, 2013.  First group meeting will be in the morning on April 4th, 2013.  Departure will be in the am on April 8th, 2013.
What kind of travel documentation will we need?
Proper travel documentation is required and is the responsibility of the guest.  U.S citizens are required to show a valid, up-to-date U.S. passport.  It is important the guest names on the travel documents be identical to those used during registration.
Can we purchase travel insurance?
  • Yes, you can for an additional fee.  If you would like to purchase travel insurance please contact: Brenda McClain  bmcclain@allseasonstravel.com
What should we pack?
Casual attire is the order of the day.  Casual shorts, jeans, tops and sundresses are welcome everywhere.
What about my medications?
Please carry your required medications in your pocket or purse so that it will be available when needed.  Checked luggage may not be accessible at all times.
What are the goals of the Couples Getaway?
As a result of the Couples Getaway, we pray that the couples will:
  • Establish a strong spiritual foundation and deeper commitment to seeking God together.
  • Show more affection, reverence, and esteem for each other.
  • Develop loving habits that will become part of their everyday life.
  • No longer take each other for granted.
  • Rekindle the love, joy, and passion they once felt in their marriage relationship.

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Deacon Harold Down Under for the Year of Faith! Full Tour Schedule

Leaving today for Australia. Here is the preview video for my Year of Faith Australian Tour (October 11-23, 2012):

The Tour Dates (click on the event for details):

October 11-12: Perth (National Catholic Conference)

October 13: Perth (Catholic Men’s Retreat)

October 14: Perth (Homily at 5:00pm Mass)

October 15: Perth (Catholic Youth Rally)

October 16: Melbourne

October 17-21: Sydney

October 22: Brisbane

October 23: Sydney

Please pray for me and for all who will attend the events!

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Discovering God’s Mercy and Will

Earlier this week, I received an email from a woman who recently broke-up with her fiancé.  She wrote, “I was accepting it as God’s will.  However, a friend told me that God doesn’t micromanage the world … He just wants me to be happy with whatever that may be.  That confused me so much … it’s almost easier for me to think that my breakup was God’s will.  Can you give me any insight to what it means to do God’s will? What is God’s will?”

I replied, “Ultimately, God’s will is not about a single person or a moment in time but our entire life.  God seeks intimate, personal, loving and life-giving communion with us, and the fulfillment of His will comes when we unreservedly seek the same kind of relationship with Him.  This is not about emotion or feelings but the mysterious encounter with the Living God in everyday life, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  When you pray, ask God that His holy will be done in your life always and at all times, and let His will unfold.  Don’t try to find God’s will under every rock.  If you are patient, His Will will become clear.”

Sometimes it’s not easy to know and to do God’s will.  We know that we need to pray but so often struggle to maintain an active and fruitful prayer life amidst the busyness and chaos of the world around us.  We know that God calls us to live according to His law and His truth, yet we struggle every day to say “yes” to God: to end bad habits and vices, to break the cycle of physical and emotional abuse, to control addiction and sinful desires.  Sometimes our weakness overwhelms us and the Cross feels so heavy that we buckle under its weight.  Yet, it is when we are down that the Lord lifts us up, it is when we’re not looking that the Lord seeks and finds us, it is when we are weak that Christ is strong!

This joyous season of Easter, when we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death and the outpouring of the Heavenly Father’s limitless mercy, is a time to seek forgiveness, a time for strengthening our relationship with Christ, a time to be open to the Holy Spirit, a time to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives.  Prayer—particularly the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy—as well as fasting opens our eyes and urges us to peer into the darkness of our spiritual poverty and pain—to come face-to-face with those desires within us that seek to separate us from Christ and His Church.  This is the time when we build up the courage to kick Satan to the curb and turn toward the voice of the Lord who calls us to life!

In order to hear the Lord calling us, we must do what the devil does not want us to do: acknowledge that we have turned away from God, then turn ourselves toward Him once more—to experience a deep conversion and a profound transformation of our hearts.  The Lord God—speaking His Word through the prophet Joel—shows us exactly how to do this: “Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God.  For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Joel 2:13).

The psalms give us the example of David who sought God’s mercy and forgiveness through his own conversion after his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba, “My offenses, truly I know them.  My sin is always before me.  Against you, you alone have I sinned.  What is evil in your sight I have done” (Psalm 51:5-6).  Armed with the weapons of prayer and the sacraments, we “rend our hearts” turning back to our gracious and merciful God.  Yet we do not repent in order to be rewarded by God but to show our love and dedication to His Son; to show the world that our faith is a gift to be given and shared.

sign posts

Our Lord told Saint Faustina of the mercy He wants to give to the world, if only we will believe in His love.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that we are often lukewarm at best.  Sunday after Sunday we hear the Word of God and receive our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist and yet we walk away, for the most part, unchanged knowing full well that Christ is calling us to change our lives, to become one with Him, which means we must reject popular opinion and the ways of the world.  We allow ourselves just enough faith to be comfortable until that faith calls us to stand-up for the truth that makes us uncomfortable.  Then, like the Apostles, we lock the doors of our minds and hearts, cowering in the fear of being rejected and unpopular.

This is the depth of the love and mercy that God the Father has for us: His Son endured the cross, carrying the weight of our sins on his shoulders.  In His tremendous suffering, He was allowed to experience alienation from God and endured death, the ultimate consequence of sin.  But by His resurrection, Christ has conquered sin; He has triumphed over death and has shattered the gates of Hell.  To be one with Him, we must be willing to enter into and share in the sufferings of Christ, to become living witnesses of the Eucharistic Lord; to truly become what we receive.

Here is the bottom line: God’s love is so immense, its power so limitless, and its embrace so tender and intimate, that Love Himself brings forth life.  God has created us in His image and likeness, has written His law of love and life into our very being, and has allowed us to share in His very life.  God invites us through His Only Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to draw deeply from the wellspring of salvation.  He invites us in the sacraments, most especially in Reconciliation and the Eucharist, to unite ourselves to Him in the deepest and greatest possible way.  He calls us to works of mercy to show that we love Him as much as He loves us.

Living in the heart of God’s divine mercy and will unites us with the Cross of Christ where we offer everything we have and everything we are in loving sacrifice to our heavenly Father in fulfillment of His Will.  As we carry our Cross along the way—as our shoulders bear the burdens of this life—let us cry out to God without fear and say, “Save me, O God, for the waters have risen to my neck.  I have entered the waters of the deep and the waves overwhelm me” (Psalm 69:1-2).  Yet we know that God, in His great love, will turn toward us with compassion—that He will open His heart and redeem us.  And when the day of rejoicing comes, let us praise God with the angels and saints, and sing with joy: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

©2012 Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

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Cruise Control: Good For Your Car, Not For Your Marriage

Cruise control is a great invention.  Think about all the advantages: you don’t have to worry about slowing down when you spot a cop shooting radar, you save money on gas by increasing fuel efficiency, and—with your foot hovering over the brake as you drive—you are more prepared to react to a changing situation on the highway.  Yes, cruise control is a great idea for a car, but not for a marriage.

After you’ve been married for a while there is a tendency to put the relationship on “cruise control.”  We think, “Now that I‘m married, I can focus on other parts of my life.”  This may take the form of job immersion and advancement, making sure the bills are paid, or all the stuff that the kids are involved in.  Like driving in cruise control, it is critical that we still pay attention to the road ahead of us, and not be distracted by the sights and sounds of life around us.

If you have been in cruise control for a while in your marriage, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to get back on track.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Pray Together Every Day.  One of best ways not to cruise through your marriage is to pray together—even if just for a few minutes—every day.  Prayer is both the gift of grace and a response that takes effort on our part.  Jesus promises us, “All that you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and it shall be yours” (John 14:13).  God knows what we need in our married lives as husbands and wives, and He grants those prayers that will help unite our wills to His.  Persistence in prayer is critical because we don’t serve a “fast food” God.  God the Father answers our prayers in His time and the timing of God is always perfect.  Persistence in prayer—in seeking and knocking at the door of His divine providence—is necessary if God is to truly be the heart and soul of married life.

2. Utilize the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Our faith as married couples should encourage us to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness: to come before Him and say, like King David, “My offenses, truly I know them.  My sin is always before me, against you, you alone have I sinned.  What is evil in your sight, I have done.”  Armed with the weapons of prayer and fasting we rend our hearts, turning back to our gracious and merciful God who restores us to life.

God’s love is so immense, His power so limitless, and His embrace so tender and intimate that Love Himself brings forth life.  God has created us as husbands and wives in His image and likeness, and He has written His law of love and life into our very being.  God invites us through His only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to draw deeply from the wellspring of salvation.  He calls us to works of mercy to show that we love Him as much as He loves us.  Seeking forgiveness from God is the gateway to seeking forgiveness from your spouse.

3. Talk Openly About Money & Finances.  I’ll be honest: when my wife and I discuss financial issues, I will often say, “Since I’m paying for this, this and this, I should make the decisions.”  Quite frankly, I am guilty of not always taking into account the many sacrifices my wife has made over the years in our marriage and recognizing her equal contribution in the decision-making process.

Turn off the cruise control by talking about your finances regularly and openly: how you both view money and how it should be spent. Most importantly, listen to your spouse!  Don’t get into bad habits: make some money ground rules that determine spending limits.  Establish a realistic budget and stick to it.  Be disciplined and learn to live within your means.  You need to work together and remember that you are a team when dealing with finances, and that compromise is sometimes necessary.

4.  Go on a Date Night At Least Once a Month.  It is so important to find quality time just for the two of you.  I know couples that have been married for over thirty years and are now divorced because the cruise control was on for way too long. It is essential that you and your spouse spend time talking about the ebb and flow of your relationship as it moves through time; how the two of you are growing and changing over the course of your marriage.  It will be difficult not to talk about the kids, so do that first and spend the rest of the time talking about your marriage.  Dinner and a movie once a month is a small investment that will pay big dividends down the road!

On the highway of life, marriage is much more like a winding road consisting of many twists and turns than a straightaway.  On life’s road, cruise control simply won’t work.  Instead, spouses must navigate together and develop a spirituality within their marriage that attests to the truth that God is love, and that He calls all husbands and wives to live in personal, loving communion with Him.  This will not always be easy.  It will take work!  Married couples should take solace, however, in the fact that they have God’s grace (much better than cruise control!) to help them through the most difficult times and the toughest challenges.  With the Divine GPS in control of our married lives we will never lose our way, for union with God forever in heaven is our ultimate destination and goal.

©2012 Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

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No Turning Back

A review of the book, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC.

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you (1 Peter 5:6).

“That guy’s a priest?”

This is what my awe-struck father whispered to me as we listened to Father Donald Calloway, MIC share his conversion story at a men’s conference in Portland, Oregon.

“Yes, Pop, he is,” I answered.

“He’s worse than me!” my father retorted.

I laughed … hard!

Let me explain.

My father would not have won any “Father of the Year” awards while my siblings and I were growing-up.  My dad was not a religious man but a pagan who never went to church.  He had three loves in his life: alcohol, cigarettes, and women.  You can imagine what life was like in our house.

I remember the day my relationship with my father went from bad to non-existent.  When I informed him of my decision to join the Benedictines, he was not only disappointed—he was angry.  What he said went something like this: “You’re going to do what!?”  He then reminded me:  “You are the first person in the family to go to college.  I spent all that money sending you to one of the best universities in the country.  You studied economics and business, and instead of making something of yourself, you are going to waste your life in that monastery living with a bunch of men?  What’s wrong with you?  What I am supposed to tell my friends?”  I won’t repeat what I said to him, but on that day he became like Lazarus in the tomb: he was dead to me.

Eighteen years later, Jesus reminded me that he raised Lazarus from the dead.

After not having a meaningful relationship for most of my life with the man who destroyed our family, I met with my father after he claimed to “find Jesus.”  During our time together, I did not hear words of sorrow and repentance for his many sins and transgressions, words I so longed to hear from him.  Instead, this talented and gifted musician who was lost and now found, who only now—after seventy-four years—came to faith in Jesus, showed me the meaning of fatherhood by his example when he sang this song:

“O Lord, sweet Jesus, have mercy on me.  My eyes were wide open, yet I failed to see.  Dear Lord, I beg you have mercy; please, have mercy on me.  I am so sorry.  Lord, forgive me.  Please show me the way.  I can’t go on living this life without you.  Sweet Jesus, please tell me what to do.  Lord, I’m depending on you.  I want to live a life that’s honest and true.  I will let nothing stand in my way.  Sweet Jesus, please hear my prayer.  O Lord, teach me how to pray, I beg you, because at times I know not what to say but when I think of Calvary I know my Jesus loves me.  Dear Lord, I beg you have mercy.”

As my eyes filled with tears, I asked my father, “What happened to you?  How is this possible?”  What he said next left me in stunned silence and awe: “The Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy.”

You’re probably wondering, “What does this have to do with No Turning Back?”  In a word: everything!  The true story that I related about my father pales in comparison to the absolutely incredible—almost unbelievable—conversion story of Father Donald Calloway, a boy on the road to an early grave who has become, in my opinion, one of the greatest priests of our time.

The first ten chapters of No Turning Back are a jaw-dropping, heart-pounding thrill ride filled with tales of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.  The second half of the book is a beautiful, Spirit-inspired testimony to both the awesome power of God’s grace and mercy, and to the efficacious mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Its an amazing dichotomy but that’s what makes No Turning Back so compelling: we all know someone who we think is a “lost cause,” someone who has no faith, no morals, no conscience; who could care less about their life or anyone else’s; who has zero sense of dignity and self-worth and who, quite frankly, would be better off in jail … or worse.  We have given-up on them because they have given-up on themselves.  This was the young Donald Calloway.  He writes:

“[…] I was living exactly the life I wanted to lead.  I believed that the hallucinogens were enriching my life, allowing me to experience a whole different dimension of thinking […] There were times that I did so much LSD that everyone looked like and moved like a turtle.  In those days, I was so stoned out of my mind that I don’t even know how I sustained life” (page 117).

And after discovering the richness, beauty, and truth of the Catholic faith through the Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy, he writes,

“Mixed with my prayers was a sense of gratitude and humility.  I know where I was when Mary found me and brought me to the feet of her Son, Jesus.  I even said to Our Lady on one occasion: ‘Mother, you have called me to this [the Catholic faith] and I know that it is because of you that I know the real Jesus.  And I am totally willing to lay down my life and be a victim with him because I should be dead.  I don’t deserve to live, yet I know the fullness of truth has been revealed to me’” (page 186).

This book is an absolute must read for every teen who is enticed by the lure of the culture, especially teens in crisis: for teens who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and sex; for teens who are gang involved or incarcerated, and for all those who love them and dedicate their lives to making a difference.

This book should be required reading for everyone who believes there is no God or that the Catholic faith is a bunch of superstitious nonsense, or who think there is an absolute disconnect between faith in God and the lived experience.  No Turning Back reminds us that God is real and that, if we have the courage to seek the Truth with an open mind and heart (cf. John 14:6), we will be swept away by a tidal wave of divine love and into the ocean of the Father’s inexhaustible mercy where we will the ride the wave of life in safety and without fear, for “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

I fully endorse and highly recommend Father Calloway’s book, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy!  I am indebted to Father Calloway for his humility in sharing his story of God’s incredible power, love and mercy—a story that has significantly affected my own father’s life and the life of our family.

But the story doesn’t end with his ordination to the priesthood.  The last chapter of the book is entitled, “Ongoing Conversion.”  Father Calloway, a holy priest who has written a stellar and moving autobiography, and who travels the world speaking about the Catholic faith, is not arrogant enough to think that he has “made it.”  On the contrary, he asks his readers to pray for him (“I want to be holy, but it’s a spiritual battle,” page 262).  Father Calloway knows all too well that he (and all of us) must

“Be sober, be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).

There is a powerful lesson here.  The virtue of hope flows from a dynamic relationship with the Living God in humble obedience to the voice of the Holy Spirit, for “the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:27-28).  “Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present … even if it is arduous” (Spe Salvi, 1).

This reality transformed Father Calloway’s life and can transform our lives as well, for nothing is impossible with God.

©2011 Aurem Cordis and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers

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