Friday, October 13, 2017

Peace In A World Spinning Out Of Control

Dear Parishioners,

A friend of mine from Indiana recently came for a visit. He and I went to Gettysburg which was on his bucket list. We walked across the field where Pickett’s Charge occurred. At this part of the battle, over 12,000 Confederate soldiers attacked the Union lines marching across an open field. They were annihilated by the Union cannon and musket fire. Few made it to the Union line. We walked on sacred ground. I was struck by the peacefulness of the field that is there now, 150 years later. There are clumps of white and yellow flowers, wheat, and beans. Life has taken over where there was great death and destruction. Our faith is like this field. It is a salve for pain and suffering. It is a peace-filled place among chaos and strife. It is an offer of joy and love instead of war and hate. It carries us away from our human brokenness and shows us the image of a merciful God. It leaves the cross and becomes the resurrection.

We have encountered another field of destruction recently, that of a field in Las Vegas. This shooting leaving 58 dead only intensifies my need for God’s peace and love. My don’t we need peace in our lives! What have we become? Where is our society going? We are Catholics and have Christ as our leader who calls us to love one another. He offers us his peace as he enters the locked places of our lives. Let us look into our hearts and find a way to offer to the world the measure of our faith—love, respect, understanding, mercy, and peace. Our chaotic and dangerous world is spinning out of control. Let us hold it gently in the hands of faith and pray diligently that we who are followers of Christ will bring peace to it. As we say in morning and evening prayer, “God come to my assistance. Lord make haste to help us.”

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“After thanking our guardian angel who has remained by our side during our sleep, we should ask him for his protection during the day.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, October 6, 2017

Giving Back To God

Dear Parishioners,

“It’s not just for breakfast anymore.” That was the slogan of the orange growers a number of years ago as they tried to promote more sales of orange juice. In other words, “Drink more orange juice at other times of the day.” You could say something similar about stewardship. “It’s not just about money anymore.” Actually it never was just about money; it was the recognition that everything belongs to God, including money.

In the book of Genesis after he creates the world (Genesis 1:28–30), God tells Adam and Eve, “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all living things that move on the earth.” He went on to give them all that covered the earth so as to be the first stewards of his creation. So then, we see the two sons of Adam and Eve giving back to God some of his gifts as good stewards should (Genesis 4). Cain sacrificed some of the fruit from the soil, and Abel sacrificed one of the best firstlings of his flock. Ever since then, God’s people gave something back to God – because they were grateful. King David has a beautiful prayer, “Therefore, our God we give you thanks and praise the majesty of your name… For everything is from you, and we only give you what we have received from you” (1 Chronicles 29:14-16). David, Cain, and Abel realized their dependence on God and, in gratitude, paid him back.

However, this week’s gospel (Matthew 21:33-43) shows some selfish and greedy stewards who not only refuse to give the landowners any of the produce, they beat and killed some of his servants and even killed his son. Naturally, those stewards came to a bad end because of their selfish greed. Let us be ever grateful for God’s gifts and generous in giving back to God a portion of what is his.

Fr. Carl

“We are occupied with a hundred and one things which, for the most part, amount to nothing; while, as for Jesus Christ, we pass hours and even whole days without giving him a thought. Or, if we do, it is so indef inite that we are scarcely conscious of it.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Main Thing

Dear Parishioners,

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” These words by Bishop Robert Morneau, retired auxiliary bishop of Green Bay Wisconsin, are wise words as we get caught up in all the controversy in our country and around the world with so many spoiling for a fight. So much rhetoric and anger, so little respect and dialogue.

But what is the “main thing?” It’s God of course! Our generous, loving, and merciful creator should be the main focus of our lives and the lens through which we see others.

Twenty five years ago, our American bishops wrote a pastoral letter about the main thing (God) and our proper outlook on our relationship to him. They reminded us that all creation is a gift from God, and that we are his stewards of creation. Our time, talents, and treasure are not our exclusive possessions; they are God’s gifts on loan to us as we walk through life. “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and all who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, one day God will require an accounting of the use (stewardship) each person has made of the particular portion of these goods entrusted to him or her. Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) tells our Lord’s thought about stewardship. Spoiler alert: those stewards who made good use of the owner’s money were rewarded; the steward who didn’t was rebuked and rejected by the Master.
“Who is a Christian steward? One who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends them in a responsible and accountable manner, shares them in justice and love with others, and returns them with increase to God.” (1992 U.S. Bishops Pastoral Letter)
Several weeks ago, I encouraged you all to reflect on your stewardship of time, especially in regard to time spent in prayer. This week, I ask you to reflect on the talents God has given you. Could you be a little more generous in your talent as a father/mother, husband/wife, son/daughter, brother/sister, church volunteer—lector, choir member, altar server, greeter, finance committee, sodality, usher/usherette, hospitality committee, sanctuary society, home visitor, etc?

As we read in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Not only will you please God, you will find happiness. Jesus said “There is more happiness in giving than receiving.” (Acts 20:35)

Fr. Carl

”One sin can not excuse another sin.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 22, 2017

God’s Merciful Way

Dear Parishioners,

God’s ways are not man’s ways (Is 55:6-9). They go beyond our wildest imagination. We believe in forgiveness but only up to a point. However, last week’s gospel told us that God’s mercy is without limit, and as long as we are on earth, so too must our mercy be if we want to go to heaven. This week we are told that some people will not have to work as long and hard as we do to get to heaven (Matthew 20:1-16a).

That may not seem fair to us, but that is God’s merciful way. After all, it’s God’s kingdom, it’s his terms, and none of us can do enough to earn it. The Kingdom is God’s reward and pure gift to those who serve as his stewards here on earth by generously sharing their time, talent and treasure.

Fr. Carl

“The commandments of God are the guides which God gives us to show us the road to Heaven; like the names written up at the corners of the streets, to point out the way.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Myth of A ”Happy Divorce”

Dear Parishioners,

There is an interesting article I recently read in an edition of Our Sunday Visitor concerning the emotional toll of divorce and the myth of the “happy divorce.” Marriage is not the valued institution it once was, and this is regrettable. The article points out the impact that divorce has on children. Their attitudes and emotions are affected by their parents’ divorce in significant ways as compared to children whose parents have intact and stable marital relationships. Children need stability and clear boundaries in order to develop. A chaotic and unstable home life makes this hard to achieve. Children from divorce grow up without an image of what relationship stability looks like.

My own upbringing points to this as my parents were separated several times and had periods of great acrimony and tension. I stood between my parents once while my father, drunk and in a rage, threatened to kill my mom. Things like that led me to be a psychologist and to seek out solutions for myself and others. The article suggests that one million children experience parental divorce every year. That is a great deal of trauma and emotional pain. And it gets carried over into the children’s relationships.

Our church sees marriage as a sacrament and honors the institution. This gives a much deeper meaning to it than just a nice and convenient way for two adults to share expenses that can be abandoned when things get tough. I have been married for 42 years and often keep in mind my parents struggles and pain. Of course, I married a gentle and beautiful person who has made the time go by in an almost easy manner. I thank God for this and know how blessed I am. I ask that we all pray for those who experience this difficult and challenging situation of divorce. It fractures lives, especially those of vulnerable children.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“Our Lord takes pleasure in doing the will of those who love him.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 8, 2017

Love Thy Neighbor

Dear Parishioners,

So very often, natural disasters bring out the very best in the human race. Time and again, Hurricane Harvey brought that out on the television, radio, and other media outlets as we see the outpouring of love and assistance from rescue efforts brought to bear in Texas.

The readings this weekend are all about this love of neighbor. In the Gospel (Matthew 18:15-20), Jesus tells us that one form of that love is privately confronting a neighbor who has wronged us. Done in a loving way, it can cause repentance and a healing of relationships. As I was taught in the Navy, “praise in public, correct in private.” Unfortunately, there is a tendency to hold the wrong in our hearts and then share that wrong with others through gossip. That helps neither party involved as more people are negatively effected.

The first reading (Ezekiel 33:7-9) is similar, as it reminds us of our responsibility of a spiritual work of mercy—“warn the sinner.” Again, it’s not easy, but if we truly love, we want all of our brothers and sisters to go to heaven. Sin leads us in the other direction. As Paul reminds us in the second reading (Romans 13:8-10) quoting Jesus, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Fr. Carl

“Love for our neighbor consists of threes things: To desire the greater good of everyone; to do what good we can when we can; to bear, excuse and hide others’ faults.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

Friday, September 1, 2017

You Need Not Be Alone

Dear Parishioners,

My mother-in-law is transitioning to assisted living. She fears being abandoned by her children. No one should be alone. This is the source of a great deal of anguish and pain, especially for the elderly. We humans are not made like that, we are social creatures who are made to interact and be with others. Everyone should be able to rely on friends and family for support and interaction. When I was young, I worked with a man who had not spoken to his brother in 35 years. My father had a sister who moved to California before I was born and never spoke with him or the family again. I never met or spoke to her. There is something very sad about that. I hope that she found a community of friends or a church of which to be a part.

Church has always been a place where my wife and I felt supported, we were known and knew others. When our kids were young, we had scout friends and band friends and play date friends. But these changed over time. Our church community has always been a more stable source of relationships. We have found wonderful and caring people there, people who share similar attitudes, beliefs, and practices. It is for us a rich fabric of connections. And we have grown greatly within this loving atmosphere of support and care. So much good has come from it. I cannot imagine not having people of faith as friends. As a result, we have been touched by God’s love in real and powerful ways. I pray that for those who do not have this joy of deep friendship in their lives, that God will help them to encounter it. I pray that God will provide all people with supportive relationships, so that no one will be alone. Help us Lord to touch those lonely people we encounter with your love, so that they will feel included and be connected.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

“We must always act in the way that will give most glory to God.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars