Showing posts with label Pastor's Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pastor's Notes. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Prairie Catholic Article: through the Cross

Lent is a season to reflect and ponder the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. The liturgical destination of our Lenten journey is the Sacred Triduum, when we celebrate the giving of the Eucharist, the Cross, and the Resurrection. It is tempting to ignore Good Friday, to view it as something simply ‘gotten’ through or around. Easter Sunday is easy to celebrate with joy. The gift of love that Christ leaves in the Eucharist as well as the model of charity in the washing of feet is happy. But it is Good Friday that ties these days and themes together and gives them their power to change our lives. Good Friday is difficult because we do not like the Cross or always understand what it truly means. We try to avoid it because it symbolizes suffering, sacrifice, and pain. Ultimately, Lent is about remembering that there can be no resurrection without the Cross.

It is the Cross that marks our lives on this earth. We are marked with the Cross at our baptisms; and this is renewed with each Sign of the Cross. Jesus instructs us to take up our cross daily. This is not an optional activity for a few followers, nor one that is a one-time deal, or when convenient, or on a limited schedule. Every disciple has cross, and it is part and parcel with following Jesus.

The cross is not light, in discussing or in fact. Crucifixion was cruel, slow, and methodical. People could be dying on the cross in excruciating (literally from the cross) pain for days. As one of our Eucharistic Prefaces (Preface III of Ordinary time) states, the Father “fashioned the remedy out of mortality itself”. When Jesus embraces and dies on the cross, He takes upon Himself the entire burden of the world’s sins. By His innocence and obedience, He puts sin and death to death. The Church Fathers and countless saints spoke of the cross and resurrection in terms of the re-creation story. Adam and Eve, by their disobediently taking of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, cause sin to enter the world. In the Crucifixion, Jesus stretches out His hands not to take but to give. He is revealed as the New Adam, the Blessed Mother Mary as the New Eve who stands beside her Son. This makes the Cross the Tree of Life. How Jesus dies is not just incidental, a matter of convenience, simply chosen because crucifixion was the current tool of capital punishment by the Roman government. It was God the Father’s plan, His ultimate choice, from before all time. He intended that the wood of the Cross be the means of our salvation.

Jesus willingly gave His life, so that we could see how ugly our sins are to the Father by our looking at Jesus on the Cross. In the cross, he fulfills the promise of the Eucharist, the most blessed fruit of Tree of Life, which brings us eternal life in the Resurrection. But we must ponder our sins and allow them to be put to death, along with our own. We cannot go around the cross – we must go through it.

Instead of avoiding the Cross this Lent, we are to take up our cross and follow. He will put our sins to death. We submit ourselves in obedience to Him, and are to receive often and well of the fruit of Tree of Life: Jesus, the Eucharist. By doing so, we return to the Garden for which we were created, where we will walk with the Lord for the rest of eternity.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas letter

Christmastime is Here. But I always get That Christmas Feeling reminding me that Christmas is so much more than a Sleigh Ride Over the River and Through the Woods. It involves more than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. We Deck the Halls with The Holly and the Ivy, Mistletoe and Holly, Pine Cones and Holly Berries, but we prepare our hearts for more. Do You Hear What I Hear? Ding Dong! Merrily On High, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, but they were more than Silver Bells, Silver and Gold Jingle Bells. No, the Carol of the Bells declares much more. As we celebrate Christmas, we are taken back to The First Noel, when, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear on that Silent Night. Away in a Manger, in a Little Town of Bethlehem, In royal David’s City, the world first celebrated the Birthday of a King. Oh Holy Night, When A Child Is Born, willingly saying “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.” A Savior is Born! Mary’s Boy Child! Sweet Little Jesus Boy! But What Child is This, that While Shepherds Watched, Angels, From the Realms of Glory come to earth to witness this event. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, declaring In excelsis Gloria. Still, Still, Still. It was A Baby Like You and me, only the Son of God, Eternal Savior. Christ is Born in Bethlehem, who is the Greatest Gift of All. The Shepherds Went Their Hasty Way, they declared to Mary, Dear Mother of Jesus, “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The Friendly Beasts, the Little Drummer Boy, and, eventually following the Star of the East, Three Kings of Orient Are all that are present to see this sight. One has to ask of the rest of the world, Do they Know It’s Christmas? Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, O Come Little Children, let us like Good King Wenceslas come Rejoice, The Lord is King. Rejoice, Rejoice All Believers, not just Angels and Shepherds! Joy to the World, Christ is born. Rejoice and be Glad, Rejoice and be Merry. Christmas day is The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year, but it is so much more than a day – it is The Holiday Season that lasts the full The 12 Days of Christmas and all year through. So, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and ask you to remember that when we sing The Christmas Song, we Sing of God, the Greatest Good. Sing We Noel this Christmas. So Go, Tell It on the Mountain, Up On the Rooftop and everywhere else. Sing the Carol, Raise Your Voices! Come On, Ring Those Bells, ring them until the Jingle Bell Rock. Ring Merrily! Bells will be ringing, and yes, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, too, With Bells On. So God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and women. Sleep Well, Little Children. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. And Let There Be Peace On Earth, peace made possible by Jesus. This is What Christmas Means To Me. (Hidden among these rambling thoughts are the titles of at least 80 Christmas carols and tunes. Have a Merry Christmas.)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day

This week, we have a Holy Day of Obligation - All Saints Day. We attend Mass to glorify God for what He did through the Saints, and we gather to honor those who have responded as disciples of the Lord. The saint we honor are both the canonized and uncanonized. In reality, we cannot celebrate and honor all the saints with an individual day, so we set this one date for all of them. There is something good in this, after all, we, too are invited to be saints, and remembering all the saints remind us that there is only one common factor in the lives of the saints - their love of God and desire to serve Him. This is done by the poor and rich, young and old, powerful or lowly, male or female. Sanctity transcends cultures, political leanings, and languages. Leon Bloy once wrote, "The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint." How true, because God has made us for Himself, as St. Augustine writes, and anything less than union with Him is to fail to be ourselves!
On Wednesday, we commemorate All Souls' Day, remembering all who have died. It would be most appropriate to visit a cemetery if possible, to offer a prayer for our dearly departed, and to pray for them. We do not have certainty of their current state - heaven united with God, condemnation because of their rejection of Him, or in the state of purification (Purgatory) where they are purged from the attachments to sin, having been forgive of them already. Because of this, this day offers us the reminder to pray for them.
But these days are also a gentle reminder to us to remember and prepare for our own death. As an epitaph on a grave stone puts it, "Remember me as you pass by, As you are now, so once was I, As I am now, so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me." Put more succinctly: Remember death - Momento mori.
All s


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Catholic Watchmen

Monday evening was our first Catholic Watchmen night. It was filled with great conversation and faith-sharing, food and prayer! There were about 40 men in attendance, and there is plenty room for more. This first night, Tony Grack presented a little about the Catholic Man Crisis. Too often, the media portrays men in a negative light (think Al Bundy or Homer Simpson). Too often, men are displayed as idiots or dolts, or over domineering. A few more ‘positive’ portrayals include James Bond who has no really family bonds (as Bishop Olmsted in his document Into the Breach points out). We can point to more misbehaviors than strong models of masculinity. Much of society’s ills can be traced to the lack of true men - from the BLM movement to single mothers to abortion. But there is another way, one that is not portrayed well in the media - the family man, sure, strong, consistent, and humble. These are the men that fill our parishes, and these are the men we hope to reach, encourage, and develop. There are men willing to give of themselves, to sacrifice for wife and family. There are men who are modeling their lives after Jesus Christ and being disciples and invite others to follow Christ. With this in mind, hopefully we can all see that the Catholic Watchmen is not in competition to the KCs, mens groups, etc, that are already in place but a means to help them. The Midnight Watch and the events themselves, while they take the men away from their families for those times, actually allow them to return stronger and better!

Friday, September 2, 2016

News!

I know that it has been a while since I have blogged except for the various articles that have appeared in newspapers and prayers.
Part is that my focus has been elsewhere.
Recently, though, a few have asked about recording my homilies. After doing some research into process and equipment, and after praying about it, I have decided to create a podcast. You can find it at http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:251744182/sounds.rss, or soon on iTunes (View From the Ambo).
The reason is not in pride, but rather in humility. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to proclaim the Good News, and I try to do so. I know that the first few may be rough until I get the settings right, as well as the knowledge of the software to help make things sound better.
Input is appreciated!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Some thoughts on the Hobby Lobby case

On Monday, June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that stated that closely-held for-profit corporations could not be forced to directly pay for insurance coverage for abortifacients against the owners’ beliefs. This is a victory for religious freedom, and not, in anyway, part of a ‘war on women’. Access to birth control is not hindered, rather the responsibility to pay is placed on the user, not the employer or insurance company. Beside this, Hobby Lobby, the chief plaintiff in the case, was willing to insure 16 of the 20 forms of birth control the HHS Mandate required, just not the four (Ella, Plan B, IUD and copper IUD) which are known to prevent implantation of a newly conceived life. As a Catholic, I cannot endorse the use of any of these covered birth control forms, even the 16 forms that Hobby Lobby would pay for, though. Most hormonal forms are carcinogenic, some come with high risk factors, and all interrupt the mutual self-gift of husband and wife in the marital embrace by holding back one’s fertility. The Church’s desire for sexual expression is that it is free, total, faithful, and permanent. As Paul VI prophesied in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, the use of contraception would lead to a break down of families and society (divorce, cohabitation, etc), an objectification of women (the sex trade, porn, and ‘using’ of women), and sins against life (abortion and euthanasia).
Those opposed to the ruling seem to be on three issues. First, they see any limit of birth control, even abortifacients and direct abortion, as a limitation on their rights. Complicating this case is the employers' refusal to pay for them as the HHS mandates, a mandate that is illegal according to the Supreme Court as there are other less restrictive means. Access is not hindered, but, as it was before the ACA and HHS Mandate, if it is not covered by insurance, it is the patient's responsibility to pay for it. Note, too, that the ACA does not fully cover all medications, even lifesaving or necessary ones. Why should 'treatments' for optional activities be covered. Yes, it is a different worldview, but pregnancy is not a disease. Those that state that these forms protect against STDs need to look again - most of them do not, and certainly not the four that Hobby Lobby is refusing to cover.
They also claim that corporations are not persons (sad that they also say the unborn are also not persons with rights). Legally, corporations are described as persons, however they are not people. As a legal person, corporations can have views and values. The same people that decry this decision on this ground are boycotting other corporations, to punish them, that do not hold their personal values. Just look up Chik-filla or Mozilla/Firefox - the owners stated something again political correctness, and then held the corporation responsible! They cannot have it both ways!
Those opposed to the ruling suggest that it is none of the boss’s business - I could not agree more! It is not the boss’s business to pay for it. As a commentator put it, I have the right to have a gun - I do not have the right to force an employer to purchase it for me.
What is most disheartening in all of this is that the most effective form of family planning, that takes into account the purpose of sexual expression and the Catholic Faith, is not covered! Natural Family Planning teaches a couple the signs of fertility, and if they are mutually fertile, they can either choose to not be sexually active, or to accept the possibility of conception. It is cheap, reliable, and fully moral! What I love most is that it actually is scientific, and gives women especially knowledge of how their bodies work. It is not simply taking a pill to treat a healthy system as a disease. NFP is not contraception - it does not interrupt the sexual act because there is no sexual act. Can it be used immorally? Perhaps, if the couple is completely opposed to life and have a contraceptive mentality. This, however, does not make NFP immoral. For more information on NFP, see the USSCB'S page, a non-affliated site, the Creighten Model, the Couple-to-Couple League, or even the Health and Human Services information (note that they use the statistic the 1-25 couples practicing NFP may become pregnant, but this may include those that are using NFP to achieve pregnancy!)

All are called by God to love Him.

All are called to serve Him.

Some are called to special lives of service,

to give witness to God's love through being a priest, religious brother, or sister.

Is He calling you?