Archive for July, 2004


July 31, 2004

Well, Molly has arrived. She is a sweet dog, very smart, and has the prettiest eyes I have ever seen. I don’t know how George Strait wrote his song Baby Blue without seeing her eyes but they are magnificent.

She is adjusting pretty well but it seems she is a bit afraid of men. She really doesn’t like it when I wear my blacks (which is almost always)but I am betting she will get used to it. I have seen this in at least one other dog. I am wondering since dogs see in black and white if it makes me look like a disembodied head to them. I probably wouldn’t run up to a disembodied head either even if it did have a milk bone floating next to it.

I would like to write more but have altar server training, nursing home, and a homily to write.

Please pray for our seminarians. They are on retreat this weekend.

Statues everywhere

July 30, 2004

I find it quite intriguing that so many people have these little statues in their front yards. I mean some yards have tons of them. Little grotto’s of dwarfs or artificial animals. I just have to laugh at some of them.

Now as a good Catholic, I fully intend to get a statue of the Blessed Virgin for my front yard. I wonder if I shouldn’t have a collection of saints to rival some of the collections of dwarves, squirrels, and deer that abound around me.

Where I grew up the only statues were of saints. Another world.

New arrivals

July 28, 2004

I should be getting a new addition to the house tomorrow night. I am going to be taking care of a Siberian Husky named Molly. A gentleman is going into the seminary and I offered to keep her until he graduates or discerns otherwise. It should be interesting. I hope to get a picture up soon.

July 27, 2004

Homily Ė 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

Our readings speak of the power and importance of prayer. Righteous prayer has the power to change lives. God shows he is willing to lay aside the sins of thousands in order to preserve the righteous from destruction. The second reading tells us we are called to live with God and that he will go to any length to eliminate the obstacles from our path so we can. So great was his love for us that he gave his only begotten Son up to a brutal death so we could be restored for him. That is Godís desire or his thirst for us to be with him. The only thing left is for us to choose to what length will we go to be with him. That is our desire or thirst for him. Prayer, as St. Augustine says, is where our two thirsts meet.
I could speak for the next few minutes on different kinds of prayer. Nothing I can say would do a single bit of good though if you have no desire for union with God. Our Gospel today shows us clearly what is necessary to pray. First we need to want to know how. Second we need to ask God to teach us. Humility is the foundation of prayer and we must admit, as his disciple did, that we do not know how to pray. Our Holy Father says that prayer means feeling our own insufficiency before God. Before we can receive the gift of prayer we must understand our place and we must want God above all things. A humble, contrite heart O God, you will not spurn.
Our thirst for happiness is infinite. That is why no matter how many things we have on this earth, they will never satisfy us. No matter what we achieve there will always be a desire for something else. Your thirst is infinite and it can only be satisfied by an infinite being. You can only be happy, satisfied and at peace when God fills your soul. He can only do this if you desire him above all else. If God is not your most important desire then you thirst for something else. To do that is to be forever unsatisfied. Or as Augustine said you will be restless until your heart rests in God.
Every week I lay a choice before you. Godís way or yours. But at the heart of every choice is the one I lay before you today. What is your deepest desire. If it isnít God then you will never be a happy. Never. For some that means eternally damned. No matter what we desire: health, wealth, power, affection, friendship, family; if we are not willing to sacrifice it to have God above all else then we are damned.
Today, I stand before you and call you to choose. We will spend several minutes in silence before Christ in the blessed Sacrament. I ask you to look deep inside yourselves and ask God to show you the true state of your soul no matter how much it hurts. I call upon God to surround us with legions of angels that we might not be deceived, by Satan or his minions, in what we hear. Humble yourself and ask God to allow you to see the truth about your relationship with him. Is he the deepest desire of your heart. Will you pay absolutely any price to be with him. If not then you had better beg him to change your heart. Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?Ē Now we pray.

July 20, 2004

Homily Ė 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Ė Year C
Today we hear the story of Martha and Mary. Traditionally this passage of scriptures has long been used to describe the difference between that active and the contemplative lives. That vast majority of Christians are called to the active life through the vocation of the laity. That means that for the lay person their call from God is to sanctify, or make holy, the temporal order. We are to bring all of creation back into order so that it is used for Godís greater glory.
It is easy to empathize with Marthaís feelings in the Gospel today. To many times, in our day an age, we tend to overlook the beautiful gift of work done by the Marthaís in our lives. We take it for granted that the everyday work that needs to be done gets done and we often forget by who. How many mothers feel unappreciated? Do we have any idea who cleans the church, changes the altar linens, sets up for mass, helps with the CCD or confirmation classes, reads, helps to fold the bulletins, or mows the grass? How many times do we thank them for what they do. Many times the little gifts of work that people give to the Lord go unnoticed and are not thanked. Let me take this opportunity to thank all those in our parishes who do so much to care for them. Your service might go unnoticed by some but not by all.
At the same time it seems that the Lord rebukes Martha for her efforts. I donít believe this is the case. He feels for her but reminds her that there is only one thing that is important. That is that we direct everything to Christ. Mary understood this and sat at his feet to be with him. Martha became so involved in her work for the Lord that she was tending to forget he was there. The work itself is not what makes us holy. It is the work we do for Christ, that is offered to Christ, that makes us holy. St. Paul says that he rejoices in his sufferings for Christís sake. That is he is conscious of the suffering, toil and drudgery he goes through but doesnít resent it because he offers it to the Lord. Instead of working to the point where he doesnít have Christ, he invites Christ into his most menial tasks, and even into his suffering. This is the model for us all.
Work becomes holy when it is directed to the Lord. But essential to that is to invite Christ in. We donít all need to go and sit at the feet of Christ all the time. But we do need to invite Christ into our daily work. If you donít then you are simply doing work for the workís sake or for passing reasons. By asking Christ to join you in your work, by inviting him into your daily life as you go about your business, by being conscious as we toil of Godís presence; these are the ways in which work takes on an eternal value rather than a temporary one. Many people are willing to suffer for a good reason. Few can tolerate suffering for no reason at all. Christ is the supreme reason, the supreme good, and the best one we can offer our sufferings to. If like Martha we forget that, then work becomes frustrating. We resent others who havenít forgotten it. We become bitter and worried.
When we do something for God, or we give something to God and his Church, we should do so with cheerful hearts and no expectation of thanks. If we do it for God then that is our reward. We know that God doesnít forget, that God sees what is done in secret, and that we canít out give God. Should we be thanked? Yes, most likely we should. But if we are not it doesnít become a source of anger for us. If we do something for thanks, for recognition, for a plaque, or so others may see, then as it says in the scripture we have received our reward. And in the case where that reward doesnít come we can end up sad, bitter, or frustrated. When we give, we must give freely, with no strings attached, grateful that we are doing a service to the Lord. If we have strings attached they will only serve to entangle us later.
True peace and joy come from hearts of gratitude. To serve the Lord and offer our suffering for his sake can make us, like St. Paul, rejoice as well. Each and everyone of us is called to offer our sufferings to God. What makes the world holy is when we invite God into our daily lives.
For too many people, God is only part of one hour a week of their lives. In some, particularly sad cases, he doesnít even get that hour every week. In order to make our lives holy, and to experience the peace of Christ, we need to invite Christ into every aspect of our lives. His presences is what will redeem our work and make it have eternal value. It can be as simply as praying grace before every meal. You can say the angelus at 12 each day. You can have an image of Christ, a crucifix, or a saint present in your work place. You can begin your time of work or study with a prayer dedicating your efforts to God. You can begin your morning with the morning offering said as you prepare yourself for the day. You can say the rosary as your drive and turn off the radio. Or you can play the rosary CD as you drive or in your place of work. Things as simple as these are ways in which you invite Christ into your life. He stands at the door and knocks, but do we let him in.
Though we are grateful for all the hard work that is done for the Lord we are mindful that we need to consciously invite Christ into every area of our lives. To become too worried about the work itself and to forget Christ will lead us to great frustration. To invite Christ in to our daily work and workplace, even in the smallest ways, gives eternal meaning and value to what we do because we do it for the Lord. Then we too can say we rejoice in our sufferings for Christís sake. Does your work have eternal meaning? Would you like it to? Only you can decide. The choice is yours. Choose well.

I love to swim but this is ridiculous

July 15, 2004

Swimming in paperwork that is. 3 parishes means 3 times the admin. Granted two of the parishes do a lot on their own but you have to juggle a lot of balls in the air to keep up with things.

This week has had me doing training of lectors. I have two more weeks of training and then I will have to have more training for all those who didn’t/couldn’t show up for the 3 sessions a week I had.

On top of this I have Religoius Ed stuff coming up and the Diocese sends tons of stuff to do as well.

It is a bunch. I wish I had the money to hire a business administrator so I could focus more on pastoral stuff.

If there is any retired military out there that wants to come to a no income tax state and help out with temporal affairs let me know.

Now tomorrow I have to do the bulletin, the homily, go to a ministerial meeting, visit two nursing homes, have mass and confessions and maybe if I have any time left I can do some stuff for the future.


Spidey 2

July 12, 2004

Saw it and it was awesome. I have been a spidey fan since I was pretty young. I have a number of comic books that I hope to sell soon. I really would like to collect again but it takes up too much room.

Planned Parenthood takedown

July 12, 2004

My Bishop goes to town and knocks PP off the state of SD website. For deatails you can read the story here. I also encourage you to vote in the poll as well which is on the main page.

July 12, 2004

Homily Ė 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today Godís word lays before us a test of our priorities. What comes first in our lives? Is it what should come first? Do we need to make some changes? It is an incredibly important question because our very salvation depends upon it. In todayís day and age many people think they are assured of salvation no matter what they do. If they believe in Christ then they go to heaven. The scriptures are clear that this isnít the case. The scriptures say: The road to destruction is wide.. In the Gospel of Matthew: On that day ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Or in Revelation: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. 11 I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.Ē
You cannot be a Lukewarm Christian or Catholic and expect to go to heaven. God even says it is better to be cold than to be Lukewarm. Why? Because the Lukewarm people, like those in Matthew, think they are doing well. They have fooled themselves into thinking they are ďdoing okayĒ; they are basically good people; and about the same as everyone else. The Scripture is clear that this is not enough. At least the person who is ďcoldĒ knows they are rejecting the Gospel and have a chance to change their mind later. The Lukewarm have deceived themselves into thinking they have accepted it when their lives clearly show they have rejected it.
For the Catholic the priorities are clearly set. God and Christ must be the first priority in our lives. Not just in some areas, but in all areas. Hot in some areas but cold in others makes you lukewarm and those consequences are clear. God must be our first priority.
In our Old Testament Reading we hear that we must love God with all our heart and soul, not just with parts of our lives. The young man in the Gospel repeats this as well ď”You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus affirms this as correct. Giving God his rightful place demands that our whole hearts, being, soul and strength be focused on that task. The second reading says Christís rightful place is as head and that he is preeminent, that is first in all things. The question we need to answer ďIs he in fact first in all things in our lives?Ē If not he needs to be. Why? Our second reading say that all things were created for Christ. That is the reason you exist. Many of you remember your Baltimore Catechism. Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. This is the reason for which we exist. If we work apart from that God is denied his rightful place and everything falls apart. Our second reading says just that. ďIn Him all things hold togetherĒ. Without Christ in his proper place, all things fall apart in the long run. He needs to be before all things in our lives the scripture says. The question we need to answer for ourselves is whether or not that is the case. The choice is ours. Do not be deceived into thinking it isnít. There is no excuse. Moses himself says it in the first reading. Putting God first in our lives is within our power. “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.” We have only to carry it out.
It is here that I want to offer the Gospel. We can deceive ourselves. In an attempt to justify our behavior we can convince ourselves of many things? Who is our neighbor? We can conveniently redefine terms in order to allow ourselves to think we are doing well? We can deceive ourselves but we canít deceive God. There were three people in the Gospel today. Two of them believed in Godís law or so they said. The priest and the Levite (both Jews) professed Godís law with their lips denied him in their actions. It was the Samaritan, the one the Jews considered their enemy, that lived that law. He was truly the Neighbor. It isnít what we profess with our lips that will save us but what we live with our lives. Jesus indeed says that it is the one who lives the law that mercy will be given to. We are to show mercy as the Samaritan did. Not as those who professed something with their lips.
In our current culture there are a lot of people who call themselves Catholic. They profess the faith with their lips but deny it by the way they live their lives. Or, they selectively choose what teachings of the Church they believe. They are lukewarm Catholics yet still have the gall to call themselves Catholics. They lack integrity. What they profess is not what they live and as the scriptures says ďby their fruits you will know them.Ē Let me make it clear. In order to be Catholic and call yourself Catholic with integrity you must believe everything the Church teaches and struggle with your whole being to live it. Christ is the Head of the Church and in all things he must be preeminent. Does that mean we are perfect in practice? No, we all fall in practice every day. But we must be perfect in faith, acknowledging Godís rightful place and we must always strive to be perfect in practice. If we fail we confess our sins, do our penance and make a firm purpose of amendment to bring our lives back into order with our whole, heart, being, strength and mind. Profess the whole faith or deny it. Be Hot or Cold but donít be lukewarm.
If we want to love our God and neighbor we must not only profess the faith we must live it. That is what we call Stewardship. Stewardship recognizes God as having first place in our lives and acknowledges that everything we have is from him and to him belongs the first fruits of our labor. To be a good steward means we put God first in all areas of our lives and use the gifts he has given us for his greater glory. In our Time which is given to us by God. In our Talent which uses all our God given gifts to further his Kingdom first. And in our Treasure Ė for all things were created for God and we must use them to know Him, to Love Him, and to Serve him first in this life. Then and only then will we spend eternity with him in Heaven.
You will know a tree by its fruits. We all need to sit down and ask ourselves if God has his rightful place in these three areas of our lives? Does he come first in Time? Do we worship God on Sundays as he commanded? Every Sunday or just when something else doesnít come up? Is Sunday Mass the Source and Summit of our lives? Are we Hot, Cold or Lukewarm? Do other things take the place of God? Does sports come before Mass or religious Ed. If sports ever takes the place of one of these two then God isnít first in your life; Sports is.
Is God first in our life in the area of our Talents? Do we give our best to God? Do we use our abilities to further his Kingdom and serve him or to serve ourselves? Do we use our talents to spread his Kingdom or is God isolated to one day a week? Do we volunteer at Church, or serve in the ministries at Mass or is it the same people who do everything, every week? Are there some weeks where no one is willing to use their gifts to serve the community?
Is God first in the area of our treasure? Scripture demands the first fruits of our labor. Do we pay God first from the treasures he has given us or do we pay ourselves or Uncle Sam first and see if there is anything left at the end of the month for God? God speaks about this in Malachi 3: Dare a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! And you say, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and in offerings! You are indeed accursed, for you, the whole nation, rob me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, That there may be food in my house, and try me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?Ē The Biblical tithe is the first 10% of our income. Our Diocese recommends that 4% to our Local parish, 1% to the Diocese and 5% go to other charities of our choice. You can see in the Bulletin how we are doing on a average per family basis. Do we think this is too much? God says we should try him, put him to the test and see if he doesnít open the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you with out measure?
To be a good steward means that God is our first priority in every area of our life. It means God is preeminent, he is first and foremost in every areas of our lives. He is first in what we do with the time he gave us. He is first in how we use our gifts he has endowed us with. He is first in the use of the material blessings he has bestowed on us, for they all come from him.
We are called to know, love and serve God in this life. We can do that with our whole heart, being, strength and mind. We can reject him completely. Or we can do things lukewarm. Our Salvation depends upon the choices we make. There is only one first place and that place rightfully belongs to God. Whole, none, or half? Hot, Cold, or Lukewarm? Does God have first place in every area of your life or does something else occupy that spot. If it isnít God, then what do you think you should do about it? The choice is yours. Choose well.

July 8, 2004

Homily Ė 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

We hear much in our readings today about peace. Jesus is often called the Prince of peace. We offer each other the sign of peace at every mass. We often times pray for peace during our intercessions. One has to wonder, with so many people praying for peace, with Christ wishing us peace, how come we see such an absence of it in our world today? If we examine our culture today we see that we have radically deformed ideas of freedom and authority.
As we celebrate this July 4th weekend we celebrate our independence day. We proclaim our independence from what our founding fathers thought was a tyrannical authority of the King of England. We Americans are great lovers of freedom and rightly we should be. We see from out last readings two weeks ago that we were created for freedom. The problem is we have a grossly distorted understanding of what true freedom is.
For the typical American the idea of freedom is always freedom from something or some constraint. We donít like people telling us what we can not do or what we should do. We believe we are the masters of our fate and if we are truly free then we should be able to do as we please unless we agree not to. For us freedom means a freedom from any restraint.
This is radically different from Godís idea of freedom and what true freedom really is. True freedom, according to Godís plan, is always a freedom for something. Specifically it is a freedom for the good, a freedom for virtue, and a freedom for excellence. For it is the good, the virtuous, and the excellent that brings the peace and happiness we were intended to have. Freedom for God is always a freedom to do good. To do evil isnít freedom from Godís laws but rather to enslave oneself to a life of misery, pain and selfishness.
A good priest friend of mine, Fr. Brad Pelzel, gave me an excellent example that explains the difference between the two ideas. I would like to share that with you.
Two boys are locked in two different rooms. In each room is a Baby Grand piano and a book on how to play the piano. Both are told they are free to do as they please. The first boy as a perverted sense of freedom. He believes that freedom is freedom from restraint, and freedom from consequences. He begins to bang on the keys, to pluck strings and be abusive. He believes he is expressing freedom. He destroys the book because he resents his teachers. Eventually he takes delight in ruining and destroying the piano. They told him he was free to do as he wished and he takes great pleasure in unrestrained power, venting his frustrations at being locked in a room and reducing the piano to ruble.
The second young man believes that freedom is for excellence, good and virtue. He is locked in the room but determined to make the best use of his time. He begins to explore the piano. He reads the book on how to use the piano. He disciplines himself to practicing scales, to discovering mathematical harmonies in the notes, and to playing within a confined scale. He doesnít play random notes but rather discovers the order that God has created in sound. After longs weeks, months and years of disciplining himself according to the rules of nature and the instructions in the book, he plays the piano beautifully.
Which of these two was truly free? The boy sitting on the pile of rubble with nothing to do? The one who refused to constrain his expression of power and be confined by the harmonies of nature or the rules of piano playing? Or the one who after many years of disciplining himself according to the rules set forth in the book on how to play the piano? The one who through his years of disciplining himself, ordering his actions, and practicing in the end could play beautiful music.
Which of them had peace? Which of them had happiness?
Godís freedom is always for the good, the virtuous and the excellence. By disciplining ourselves according to the laws he created in nature, and the moral laws for our lives, is how we become truly free, happy and at peace. As St. Paul says in the second reading: ďPeace and mercy on all who follow this rule of life.Ē
We can rebel against the laws of God, we can even experience pleasure in the rebellion as we delight in smashing the moral laws set for our life. But in the end we will end up sitting on a pile of rubble. True freedom comes from disciplining ourselves according to the laws. It comes through submitting our wills to the proper authority whether that be the laws of nature or the laws revealed to us through the instructions of those appointed as teachers.
That brings me to the second topic which is authority. For many Americans the idea of authority is that of an elected one. No taxation without representation. We donít want to submit to an authority we donít choose or have a vote in. In the governance of a human state this is fine. But it doesnít work that way with Godís laws or the Church which is the body of Christ.
Godís authority is given to those whom he has appointed and sent. It is given to those he has ordained. Not to do with as they wish but do preach as the Lord commanded. This is clear from our readings today. Christ told the disciples that he appointed what to preach. Paul says he will never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The message is always Christís. He gives it and the authority to his disciples to preach. We cannot appoint ourselves the authority to interpret the message as Martin Luther or Henry VIII did. God appoints as he did with Peter. Peter appoints at the command of the Lord. The rest of us can either welcome the messenger or we can send them packing. For the Catholic the authority always lies outside themselves and is appointed over them not voted on.
We do not vote on what is true. We do not vote on what the teachings of the Church are. We do not vote on who the pope is, or who our Bishop is, or who our priest is. We do not vote on the interpretation of scripture. We do not vote on whether to allow gay marriage, women priests or if people can use artificial birth control. For us the message is always the one that Christ gives and it is always given by those he has appointed and sent.
Freedom and authority are gifts that are given by God to bring us peace and happiness. If we use them according to the way God intended then we will reap the intended reward. If we pervert them then we will reap the fruits of our perversion. We can choose to play the piano as it was meant to be played and as we are instructed. Or we can rebel in an attempt to be free from constraint to do as we wish. In the end we will reap the fruit of what we have sown. A pile of ruble or beautiful music? Indulgence or Discipline? Freedom from restraint or freedom for the good, the virtuous and the excellent? Misery or Peace? The choice is yours. Choose well.