Friday, June 15, 2018

You Are God's Beloved

Dear Parishioners,

The opening line to Henri Nouwen’s book, Life of the Beloved is this: “Dear Friend, being the Beloved is the origin and the fulfillment of the Spirit.” This line starts a beautiful journey into Nouwen’s view of how God sees us as his Beloved. Nouwen articulates the desire of God for us, his children in this one word, Beloved. He describes this relationship of us to God through four other words: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given. These words mark his actions as a priest during the liturgy but also his relationship as a Christian, whose life is bread for others, taken, blessed, broken and given. I have to say that this book with its beauty, love and wisdom changed my life and opened me up to God in a way that was deeper than I had ever risked before.

As children of God, we are all seeking to understand our role with God, Father, Jesus, and the Spirit. Nouwen’s view doesn’t see that relationship as static but places it in a giving and dynamic transaction. We are in relationship with God and with one another, and there are phases to it, movement in it, and changes as a result of it. Are any of us the same as we were when we first took communion, were baptized or converted? Being open to God has a way of moving us, deepening, teaching, challenging and refining us. And I am forever in God’s debt for the gifts I have been given, the wonderful ones and the challenging ones. I am not going to say more about the book which I believe is Nouwen’s finest work. But if you are looking for something to take on vacation, it is an easy and quick read that may just offer you some needed insight into your spirituality as God’s Beloved.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, June 8, 2018

Seeking Mercy and Forgiveness

Dear Parishioners,
“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
In the first reading (Gn 3:9-15), God has just discovered Adam and Eve disobeyed him. After God had given them the gift of life and a beautiful garden in which they lived, and the only condition being not to eat the fruit of one tree, they caved in to temptation and disobeyed. But what does God do next? Does he punish them right away? No, he starts his plan to redeem the human race. In condemning the snake to crawling on the ground, he predicts the coming of a redeemer, a savior who will do battle with the devil. “He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” In other words, the heel of Jesus will crush the head of the serpent.

God’s first thought is redemption, for with him there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Let us never grow tired of seeking his mercy and forgiveness as we extend the same treatment to those who offend us.

Fr. Carl

Friday, June 1, 2018

Building Up the City of God

Dear Parishioners,

My wife and I returned to Indiana recently for some routine medical checkups and to visit old friends. The trip back is a long one but well worth it. It is a busy several days. Rochelle goes back to her high school where she worked as a Guidance director and participates as a volunteer on senior projects, a necessary project and presentation for seniors. I met up with some of my fellow deacons who were with me during our 5 years of formation. We call it a “fishing tournament,” but it is really an opportunity to be together and share stories and catch some fish at Deacon Tim’s grand mom’s pond. We saw the priest who was our pastor for over 16 years and met up with other friends. The power of this time for us is that here we renew old relationships. Here we are known and we know. These folks are not members of our current church, St. Jane, but they are members of our Church family. We share beliefs and faith, traditions and love for Christ. It is a long way to travel to fulfill the second commandment of Jesus, to love one another. But that is the benefit and the motivation to be here. To be known and to know are qualities at the heart of “love one another.” That is the stuff that sustains relationships. That is the stuff that lets you sit down with someone you haven’t seen in a while and pick up where you left off. That is the fabric of church. Let us work to be known and to know each other. And in the process, let us sustain and heal each other, hear our stories and share our joys, pains and faith. That’s how we build up the city of God.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Most Holy Trinity

Dear Parishioners,

One of the two central mysteries of our faith is the Trinity. The other is the Incarnation (the 2nd person of the Trinity becomes man in Jesus Christ). The word Trinity comes by combining the prefix “tri” with the word “unity” and dropping the “u.” The word formed is “Trinity.” It means three persons in one God. But the Trinity means more than that, for the bible teaches that we are all created in the image of God and so should try to live as the Trinity. We are meant to live in a loving relationship with God and our neighbor.

The Trinity is so central to our faith that we begin and end all our prayers acknowledging the Trinity as we make the sign of the cross (Matthew 28:18-20). Yet how often do we reflect on this great mystery? One way would be to pray the Glory Be each day when we say our morning and evening prayers as we honor God as he truly is.
“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
Father Carl

Friday, May 18, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Dear Parishioners,

As we move from the Ascension to Pentecost, it is quite a marvel what the apostles went through. Imagine just fishermen trying to make a living, plying the waters around Canaan. Probably simple people, not greatly political, not rich, not well educated. They encounter this man who captures their attention and interest by his calling. They risk and leave their family and boats, their livelihoods, to follow him. And imagine yet what they have seen—the miracles, the healings, the bread appearing out of empty baskets, the calming of the sea, the wondrous stuff that God can so easily do. There is also the political tension, the Pharisees and the Authorities. Yet throughout it all, Jesus is calm and directed, passionate and wise, loving and challenging. They feel things about him and themselves they never knew. And then there is Jerusalem, the high place of power, the history, people, the foreboding predictions by Jesus himself. They are given the Bread of Life, the wine that is Blood, the commandment to love, the instruction to be last not first. Then a whirlwind of joy turned protest and condemnation and ultimately the Cross, only one could witness. But through the locked doors of their fear, God rescues them, showing them his hands and side. They are taken to a new realization, a new confidence and a new teaching. My, have they been on a wild ride! He leaves them rising into the sky, and they are by the sea again. But now with a different mission, a task so large as to be incomprehensible. “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.” With tongues of fire, they take it on. (Acts 2:1-11)

And they hand it over to us! And we are bewildered and confused, elated and wild with hope. We say “yes” and breathe in God’s peace and love, so that with God’s grace and the power of the Spirit, we may keep the faith and add to the number of the baptized. We are God’s new “fishers of men!”

Blessings,
Deacon Steve

Friday, May 11, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend is a two-fold celebration—the Ascension of Jesus into heaven and Mother’s Day. The Ascension is a reminder of our destiny. Where Jesus went 2000 years ago is our future home. Let us strive to follow Jesus on our journey there.

We also salute our mothers for all they have done to raise us, teach us, and give us a good home. Their sacrifices were many and came in all shapes and sizes, many of which we never knew about or simply took for granted. Today more than ever, we need to recognize their importance in society and the home especially when radical feminism holds up career women as the ideal and laments the homemaker as a wasted, unfulfilled life of drudgery. We need to reaffirm that what a woman does at home for her family is far more important than a career or job. She supplies the love, support, encouragement, and tenderness that each family needs and no amount of money can buy. In short, the mother is the heart of the family. God bless our mothers.

And let us not forget our spiritual Mother Mary, as we turn to her in prayer for continued guidance and assistance.

Father Carl

Friday, May 4, 2018

Triumph Of The Cross

Dear Parishioners,

As we continue our observation of Easter, I am reminded of the triumph of the Cross. I have a cross on a chain I wear around my neck. My granddaughter asked me why I have it. It brings up the question of the meaning of the cross. I told her that it reminds me that I am a Catholic, that I am a child of God and a follower of Christ. It is close to my heart, and so I feel close to Christ with it. It reminds me as well of the crosses I bear, that we all bear, that we are given to perfect our discipleship.

We all have crosses that we don’t like talking about but which we must deal with as we make our way through life. It points to the suffering which the Son of God endured for our sake. He was innocent and even more, sinless and incorruptible, not deserving of such vile consequences. Yet he endured his suffering with determination and purpose. He knew what it was all about. He is no stranger to pain and suffering and so knows our suffering, making his consolations to us powerful and grace filled. The cross points to the torturous evil we humans can visit on each other through rejection, condemnation, and vilification. Some of our crosses are brought by others in the form of oppression and prejudice. For some people, we don’t care what their crosses are. And yet for those we love, we share crosses and make the load lighter. The cross also points to the fact God can take any dire, desperate, and hopeless situation and make something good come from it. Even in death, there is room for hope as even death cannot diminish God’s bright light of love. So let us continue to be mindful of God’s grace, love and mercy in this beautiful season of Easter.

Blessings,
Deacon Steve