Archive for April, 2004

Beauty and Pain

April 30, 2004

Priests deal in a lot of both. It is so frustrating to watch people self destruct and there is a lot of self destruction going on in this world. You want to reach out and make the choice for them. Why is it we run so hard in the opposite direction of what we need, the one thing that can make us happy. I grow more and more in the understanding of the Father whose child squanders his inheritance and eats from the trough of pigs.

At the same time I am able to see some pretty incredbily beautiful moments. I often time get to experience the moments when people come to a deeper undestanding of God and his love for them. To watch that dawn is like staring into ecstasy itself. You see the realization as they move one step closer. That is an incredible honor. In that sense you understand what must go across the Father’s eyes when he sees his son at the end of the road on the way home. He doesn’t wait for him but runs to meet him.

Priesthood is amazing. I thank God for the good work he has begun in me and I pray that he bring it to completion.

Principal or Superintendent?

April 29, 2004

Not even sure if I spelled the last one right so that disqualifies me. It seems there will be a lot of openings in one of our school districts including two pretty big jobs. Perhaps you know of someone that might apply. I can promise spiritual support and a Mass that is faithful the the rubrics of the Church.

Send me an email if you are intererested or know someone who is.

On another note I just had two of the busiest days I have had but they were great. Three farm blessings today. That was awesome. I love doing that. Plus I get to ask God to bless all those little future hamburgers and make them really juicy.

I also found out one of my parishoners has horses. That has possibilites. Not for eating of course but for chasing down burgers on the run.

Had some great conversations with people today. I am well aware of the priestly presence that is there sacramentally and I try to take it whereever I go. I am like the B1B stealth bomber. I am not the grace bomb myself but I carry it with me and my smart bombs are getting more accurate.

Now how was that post for some unexpected lingo.

Monstrance Update

April 29, 2004

The monstrance is in the USA I am told. I am still about $400 short but thanks to some recent donations it isn’t more. I hope to have it in time for Children’s Adoration on May 10 in Sioux Falls. Then hopefully I can get some pictures and get them up here for the benefactors to enjoy.

I will be offering Mass for the benefactors on the Feast of the Sacred Heart when we will begin our kickoff of First Friday Devotions and Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in our homes. The rectory already has the image up but we will enthrone it formally on that day.

One way or another

April 29, 2004

I can’t believe the democrats are making this an issue. The bishops should get it over and excommunicate them formally. They have obviously rejected the church and intend to thwart the vatican.

April 25, 2004

Homily Ė 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Today I would like to focus the homily on the second reading we heard. It is fitting that I focus on this because over the course of the next couple of weeks we will be having first communions. It is a joyous time for our parish as some of our members begin to receive the Eucharist and thus participate in what Vatican II calls the source and summit of Christian life. It is important also because for a number of years a lot of things have crept into the liturgy that do not belong there. Just this week the an important document was released concerning these grave abuses. As Catholics you have a right to the Liturgy that is set down by the Church. It is a grave abuse for a priest to take things into his own hands. You worship at the Church of Jesus Christ not the Church of Fr. Todd or Fr. So and so. But due to 30 Ė 40 years of abuses inflicted upon people they sometimes can be confused about what is right. They might have a sense that something is wrong and be uncomfortable with it. Or they might give in and think that the Liturgy is something that can be played around with, can be made cute, or entertaining. The truth is, every liturgical act and especially the Mass is an act of worship of the Jesus Christ the Lamb of God and our second reading gives us a clear indication of how this should be done.
The second reading tells us of the Vision of St. John of the Divine Liturgy in heaven. The angels and all creatures cry out. Worthy is the lamb who was slain. Who is this lamb that was slain. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. What is he worthy of? to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” A little further on it tells us: ďTo the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Our Liturgy on Earth should reflect these points. We come here to Worship Jesus Christ. The Mass is the highest act of Worship of Jesus that we can give. There is a reason when I hold up the Eucharist that I say ďThis IS the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. You respond: Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. The Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ. It truly is the Lamb who is slain. We are truly unworthy to receive him, yet he is willing to give himself to us. That should provoke a response from us of humility, fear of God and reverence unlike we give to anything else in our lives. The Eucharist is the Lamb of God. He is deserving of Glory, honor, blessing and riches forever and ever. That means yesterday, today and forever. That means every Mass should reflect this and everyone who participates in Mass should as well. To do anything less is to dishonor the Lamb who was slain to save us. It is to give him unfitting glory. It dishonors him. It makes us unfit to worship with those in heaven because we are unwilling to humble ourselves and give him is rightful praise. It is right to give him thanks and praise and it is right to give the very best to the Lord.
That brings me to the main topic I want to address today: our reverence and dress when we come to Mass. I have been writing in the bulletin about what is and is not appropriate dress in Mass. This isnít just Fr. Toddís opinion. This is based in the reality that our very best is the only thing fitting for our Lord. Attitudes have become casual toward Mass. When we become casual about what we wear to Mass we will become casual about that way we treat the Eucharist and that is Sacrilege. People donít have their Sunday Best any more. I myself was guilty of this when I wasnít serious about my faith. What we wear communicates a lot about us and our attitudes. It communicates how much we respect things or donít respect them. There is a reason why first communicants dress up for their first communion. It is a special day. It is no less special for anyone of us no matter how many communions we have received. We are all receiving Jesus Christ. He is what makes it special and he is the one deserving of our best. That is why it is never appropriate to wear casual clothes to Mass. I am not saying you have to be in a suit but you should be well dressed. Shorts are never appropriate. But Father it gets hot. Tell me about it. I am in three layers of polyester, with lights shining directly on me, standing for the vast majority of the mass and holding my arms up in prayer. People wonder why I am hot in the winter and use a handkerchief so often. I think you would be offended if I came out in shorts and a tee shirt to say Mass for you and you should be. I also think it is offensive to God and to our neighbors when we wear them to Mass. They are not considered our best. This would also include many of todayís styles that are immodest. I admit it is tough to shop for modest clothing now a days. Most of womenís clothing, especially young ladyís, is immodest. It puts her body on view and treats her like and object for menís viewing pleasure. It communicates that the primary value she has is as an object of sexual attraction. That is offensive to the dignity of her person as a child of God. If I had a biological daughter I would never let her wear something that is specifically designed to entice men to view her as an object. I am a Father however and I can not allow them to be victimized or to victimize themselves in Godís House. Half shirts or clothing that exposes the midriff is not appropriate for Church. Just like they do at the Vatican, I intend to coverings in the back of the Church. The alb is the gown of the baptized and it solves the problem of immodest clothing. I will ask you to cover up before you go to Mass. If you donít I will ask you to leave. I do not want you distracting people from worship while they look at you. The same goes for low cut shirts or plunging necklines. I stand above you when I hand out communion and look down. There are somethingís I donít want or need to see when I am praying the Mass. The same set of rules apply to men and muscle shirts, tank tops or half shirts. Okay you might lift weights and are proud of your body. Donít come to Mass to show off your body. You can do that everywhere else but here. Come to Mass for the only body that counts: The Body of Christ. That is the only body that should command our attention in Mass. If you try to compete for attention with our God then you have some serious issues and you need to have them somewhere else.
If dressing appropriately presents challenges to you financially the come see me. I will be glad to help you get an appropriate Sunday outfit. If I have to learn how to sew I will. Parents donít be afraid to challenge what your children want to wear to mass. It is the job of the Father and Mother to set rules and regulations to teach their children what is and isnít acceptable behavior in a civilized society. As a spiritual father I need to tell you these things because they are a problem. We have lost the healthy sense of shame we had years ago at showing up in Church dressed inappropriately and being irreverent in Church. The action is still shameful we just donít know it anymore. It is time we recover reverence. It is time we recover the sense of the sacred. It is time we recover our fear of God and give our very best to him rather than our leftovers.
The Lord takes dress seriously and so should we. In Matt: 22 a man who showed up at the Kings wedding dressed inappropriately was bound and cast in to the darkness. In Revelation the Divine Liturgy is called the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and that is what it is in our earthly liturgy as well. We should not show up to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb dressed poorly. We eat at the table of Kings. We need to give our best. We need to dress appropriately. If we donít then we can expect the same treatment as the man in Matthew. Ultimately the choices we make about our dress communicate a lot about ourselves and our attitudes. But whether we are embarrassed about it or not is not the fault of someone else if they point it out to us.. They did not dress you. That is a choice you make and you need to bear the consequences. If you dress shamefully then you should be ashamed. We are capable of giving this honor. We do it for humans all the time. Can we not do it for our God? Our Lord deserves our best. Worthy is the Lamb of glory and honor. How you choose to do that is up to you. The choice is yours. Choose well.


April 22, 2004

Updated a few links on the left. It is a little easier with blog rolling. I will have to explore it a bit more when I get some time and see if I can categorize with it.

House and Farm

April 21, 2004

House and farm blessings are in full swing. I did my first last night, I am heading out to do another now and have two more on the schedule with more surely to come. This is a very good things. I also hope that it is a good preparation and preview of coming attractions for when I kick of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in homes later this summer.

I keep pretty busy but often feel I don’t get a lot done. I don’t know if that is the nature of all things or if in fact I am not getting much done. I will have to keep an eye on it. I want to sit down to find some long range planning time but it is a bit frustrating. I think I am going to put time on the Calendar today. I still haven’t settled in the rectory (boxes still abound). I always seem to let that slide at the end of a long day. Perhaps I need to put that on the calendar as well. Well I am off to the house and farm blessing.

Homily – Divine Mercy Sunday

April 18, 2004

Homily Ė Divine Mercy Sunday
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Many people are familiar with the devotion called the Chaplet of Mercy. It has been introduced and prayed in our parishes for a number of years. During my time in Rome St. Faustina was canonized by our Holy Father John Paul II. Mercy is not a new concept in the Church but one that in our times the Lord felt needed to be emphasized to our modern culture through Sr. Faustina. I would like to share with you a quote from one of her writings and how I think it relates to the Gospel Message today.
To Saint Faustina Our Lord said:
“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” (Diary, 699).
Godís mercy comes to us in many ways but in special ways through the graces he gives us in the sacraments. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that Mercy is said to be a virtue influencing one’s will to have compassion for, and, if possible, to alleviate another’s misfortune. God, in his great compassion for us, alleviates our misfortunes by sharing with us his divine life through the sacraments. Of the seven sacraments we can receive, there are only two we receive on a regular basis: Confession and Eucharist. Notice the two go hand in hand as St. Faustina relates to us. We should also pay attention to the order in which she relates them. You go to confession and then receive Holy communion. Then the divine floodgates are opened.
I think this is a very important point to address today because many Catholics seem to be abandoning the practice of regular confession. The lines for communion are long, but the lines for confession are short. Much of this comes from living in a culture that is largely protestant and increasingly secularized. Some people have the notion that they can confess their sins directly to God. They donít believe it when they are told otherwise because they have lost respect for the Churchís authority. They believe they can decide what is right and wrong. You will often hear: That may be true for you but it isnít true for me. I would like to address these ideas from our scripture passages today.
The last shall be first. In John 14:6 Jesus says ďI am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.Ē Notice that he doesnít say: ďno one comes to the Father except through usĒ There is one Jesus. He is the truth. There is one truth and it is true for all of us. There is no my truth, or your truth. There is the truth and we must conform our lives to it or reject it.
Who gets to decide. Who did God promise to protect from Error? He promised to protect Peter and his successors. That is why the Pope is called the Vicar of Christ on Earth. In Matt 16:18,19 he says ďAnd so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Notice he didnít say us. He said you. Jesus knows the difference between plural and singular. He gave him the last word. Whatever he teaches in faith and morals is bound in heaven. In reality God, through the Holy Spirit, preserves him from error when teaching in faith and morals. Do you doubt it? Your not arguing with me. Your arguing with Jesus. He said it. I am proclaiming to you His Gospel, not my own.
Look to the importance of Peter in the first reading today. Many signs and wonders were performed by the apostles, but the people carried the sick to the streets in order that Peterís shadow might fall upon them. It reminds me of the woman who just wanted to touch the tassel of Jesusí cloak and then she would be healed. After he ascended people merely wanted the Shadow of Christís vicar on Earth to fall on them. Watch how they reach for our Holy Father John Paul II when he goes by, holding their children up, just hoping to shake his hand. The vicar of Christ is exactly that. Jesus made him so and we need to respect his decision. He is where the buck stops on this Earth and he is protected by the Holy Spirit. Not us. We can conform our lives to it or reject it.
The Church clearly teaches us that we need to go to the sacrament of confession. We must go to one of those sent by Christ or his apostles. Why? Because Jesus instituted it himself and gave them the power to forgive sins. Look at John today. On the Evening of the first day of the week. That means on Sunday Evening, the very evening of the very day he was resurrected Jesus came to the apostles. He said to them ďPeace be with you.Ē He showed them his hands and side to wipe away any doubts of who he was. Then he sent them as the Father sent him. To forgive sins. He sent them to forgive sins. He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit and said whose sins you forgive are forgiven and whose sins you retain are retained. Jesus gave his apostles and their successors the ability to forgive sins. He preserves the Pope from error when he teaches that it is necessary to confess your sins to a priest. To doubt these things is to doubt Jesus himself. But many people would rather have their imaginary truth rather than have Truth itself. We cannot doubt the necessity of the sacraments without doubting what Christ himself taught.
Thomas doubted. But when faced with the Truth itself he said: ďMy Lord and my God.Ē We too need to put our faith in The Truth. Not the truth we wish to believe. But Truth Himself. There and only their will we experience the mercy we seek. There and only there can our sufferings be truly alleviated. There and only their can we find rest for our souls.
Confession is given to us as an act of mercy. He does not give it to us to burden us. The Lord says it himself: I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. Mercy is tender and the Lordís mercy is deep. Oceans of graces are their if we only approach. He wants to take our burden from us but first we must approach. Take it from one who practices what he preaches. I go to confession every few weeks. Why because without it the burden would be too great and I would be crushed beneath my sins.
One of the main prayers that came out of the devotion to divine mercy is ďJesus, I trust in youĒ I do and I hope you will too. Listen to His words in Matt 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” One way or another you will be yoked. You will be yoked to slavery or you will be yoked to Christ. You will bear a burden one way or the other. Ultimately though you choose which cross you will carry. The choice is yours. Choose well.

Upcoming Bulletin Activity

April 15, 2004

I am going to be combining the three Church Bulletin’s soon. I am supposed to be look at every bulletin before it goes out and as it stands now can’t do that. The surrounding parishes print one combined bulletin for the three parishes on a 11×17 sheet of paper. This gives them more space and lets everyone see what is going on where. It was suggested to me by my mentor because he said I need to see everything that is going in. So I got the printer to do it and now will be working on the design. Actually I am hoping two friends will because they are much more talented than I am.

So that being said I thought I would give put a section up here of what I am putting in the Bulletin this week. Why? If your priest isn’t offering these things then you can ask him to come do it. They are recommended activites by the Church but most priests probably aren’t asked. So I encouarge you to ask.

Here it is:

Easter time is the traditional time to have the annual blessing of families and their homes. I would like to resurrect that tradition. If you are interested then you should give me a call and we can set up a time when I can come and bless the family and the home. I hope many of you will take advantage of this. It will be good preparation for the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart which I will talk about later.
Also as spring is in the air many are beginning to plant as well as finish up calving. Our wonderful Catholic Faith offers two different types of blessings to farmers. There is a special blessing of seeds at planting time and also a blessing for Fields and flocks. I would love to come and do this for our farming community. If you are interested please also call me and we will put a time on the Calendar.
It is important to remember that all we have comes from God and that we can do nothing on our own. We need to give thanks for what we have and ask his blessings on our lives and families. It is a good thing to seek his blessing on every activity we do and especially those upon which our livelihood depends.


April 12, 2004

Wow. Now I know what priests mean when they say Holy Week is exhausting. It was awesome but it could have been better. I am going to work a lot harder to have everything ready this coming year. Most people thought everything went off pretty well but I was disappointed a bit because I didn’t have time to do what I hoped too.

Next year should prove better. I have already sat down to start planning the liturgical calendar. I will be starting a joint liturgy committee between the three parishes to standardize a lot of stuff and divide the workload.

I also want to start a pontifical server crew. My servers were great this year. Most of them stepped up to the plate w/o being asked and they had no idea what they were doing with all the changes. I just asked them … do you know what a candle is, do you know what a the book looks like, how about holy water and incence. Yes Father of course… I said good: Just go get it when I ask. Can you do that? Sure Father. Cool…. lets worship Jesus.

That works okay when the priest actually knows what they need to get and when. It was my first Holy week, I wasn’t an associate, I had no MC and was tracking a lot of stuff. Needless to say it wasn’t what this idealistic young priest hoped.

Next year though we hopefully will do better unless I drop the ball big time.

I am a firm believer that the liturgy done well (with reverence and attention to the rubrics) can move peoples hearts profoundly. Yes I think it is true of the Novus Ordo as well which makes me a heretic in some peoples book.

On a side note I had a blast playing Dice (shocks all the baptists) with a family in Selby at their Easter gathering. I took them for a lot of nickels when I sat at the right table (no I am not superstitious). In the end though I did give them all back and walk out only with what I came in with as far as nickels. I ate two huge meals that day, one with a family in Selby and one with a family in Herreid, and will be paying for it for a while. South Dakotans can really cook though.

For anyone that wants to see where my parihes are they can look at a map of South Dakota. Find the River. Go north on the river til you see where it enters north dakota and look to the right of the river. Herreid is there. Eureka is a little further right. Selby is a little right and down from Herreid.

All those littles add up to 2000 miles and 40 extra hours a month in the car though. Every one of them is a joy though because the people are great and I really love being a priest.