I have been out of town for a few days. I found out while I was gone that I am losing my Bishop to Saginaw. Bad for us; Good for Saginaw. It is quite an emotional blow. It is like losing a father and a friend in the same day. Please pray for him. He is going to need it. Please pray for us that we don’t get a bad bishop either.
Archive for December, 2004
To all. It has been a busy day and will be a busy week. I wish you all the best.
I just had a great dinner and Christmas party with the Youth Group in Eureka. They made my favorites for dinner: hamburgers and hot wings. We had a great time and to top it off they commissioned a special gift for me. They had a cribbage board made in the shape of the state of Texas. It is awesome. I hope to get a pic up of it soon. It was incredibly thoughtful…. but lest you’re two impressed… I played a game of cribbage with one of the youth and they didn’t let me win. Ah well.
It was a great time.
Not really but my dog Molly does seem to have it pretty easy.
Homily – 4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)
“We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.” These are the words of the Lutheran Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and they speak to an attitude that was growing during his time during WWII and that is even more prevalent in our time. That attitude is that God is there for us and we need to do little other than believe he exists to get to heaven.
This belief is in direct contradiction to our readings today. Our responsorial psalm clearly indicates that we were created for God. All the earth, everything in it, the world, and all who dwell in it belong to the Lord. God isn’t there for us. We are there for God and our response to our creation should be to seek him with all of our heart, mind and strength. Who goes to heaven? Who stands in his holy place? The one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean and who does not desire what is in vain. These are how we should prepare for the coming of the Lord.
At the beginning of Advent I asked you the question “How are you preparing for Christmas?” I showed you in the scriptures that we need to prepare for the Lord by repenting of our sins and going to confession at the very least. We should do other things as well to reflect on the great gift we have been given and to draw closer to the Lord in our spiritual lives. The questions I ask you on this last Sunday of Advent is: “What have you done to prepare for Christmas?” Have you at least gone to confession? If not then why not? Is it because you have no sins you need to repent of? If you believe that then you are in dire trouble because scripture says we all are in need of repentance. John the Baptist has been calling for it throughout our entire Advent season. Is it because you believe that you can confess your sins directly to God and you don’t need to go to a priest? Well then you stand in opposition to the Sacred Scriptures and you reject the infallible teaching of the scriptures and Christ’s Catholic Church. If you reject that authority then you shouldn’t be coming to communion because you are not a Catholic if you reject what the Church teaches. Is it because you haven’t had an opportunity or other things have taken priority? Well I know the opportunity has been there. Even I have been to confession in Advent and I know I go again before Christmas. It is a priority for me. Not because I am holy, because I am a sinner and I know my need to repent to prepare for the Lord.
The Lord is tired of our excuses. We see that in the first reading. Ahaz is commanded by God to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses out of a false piety. This is actually a form of immense pride. He says he will not tempt the Lord. Yet the Lord just commanded him to do it yet he thinks he is to holy or to righteous to do as the Lord commanded. God ordered him to ask for a sign and the sky literally was the limit. Ahaz refused. Contrast that with Joseph. Who was faced with a situation that would bring about much embarrassment and pain if he was to marry a woman with child. Yet when God’s messenger appears and tells him to do it he did as the angel commanded him and took his wife into his home.
This is what Paul called in the second reading the Obedience of faith. God’s word is enough. Joseph is obedient. Why because his heart is clean and he does not desire what is vain. He seeks the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. He received a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior. He received the savior himself. He was ready for the first Christmas.
To meet the Lord our hands must be sinless, our hearts clean, and our desire must be for him alone. The good news is there are six days of Advent left. A lot can be done in six days. Entire universes can be created by an all powerful God. Surely he can recreate a single human heart. The only thing he needs is for the heart to repent and to ask. Then we need not fear being the person that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was talking about. The one who takes what is agreeable and pleasant aspects of the Lord’s coming and forgets the serious aspect. God’s drawing near to man is a very serious thing. And for those who have a well formed conscience it is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news. They understand what John has been crying though all of Advent: Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. I pray to God that we all might be a little more like Joseph and a little less like Ahaz. Christmas will truly then be a time of great joy.
Wow is time flying by. I think I have hit that point in my life when time seems to disappear. I am a week out from Christmas and haven’t even got close to Christmas Cards which will be sparse.
This week began with a trip to Sioux Falls and a visit to the dentist. I hadn’t been in 5 years. The Bishop was telling me I really should take advantage of the two cleanings a year our insurance provides. I told him I usually don’t go until something hurts. He said that costs us a lot more. I order you under obedience to go. I am obedient so I went. After 5 years what did they tell me? You have beautiful teeth. Sure there was tartar build up but they were amazed at what good shape they are in. So I am going to be going ever 6 months. I am a big believer in preventative maintenance.
Then I had spiritual direction which was amazing and finally go to children’s adoration which was even more amazing. That is such a spiritual high for me every month. I really wish everyone could experience this. I will be posting some more pictures in the near future.
I also go to see national treasure. I didn’t go for the history but for the entertainment and it was entertaining.
I traveled back and it has been a flurry of communion calls and confessions ever since. I am going to be wiped the day after Christmas.
Speaking of which I am heading to the Twin Cities to visit my Goddaughter. I will make a brief blitz to Joliet Il. to pick up a baptsimal font and then back for the New Year and a vacation soon afterwards.
I am making progress on a flurry of Church projects. We have new doors, a chair lift, and are fixing an altar rail at one of the Churches. The office is going to be moved out of the rectory (I am so looking forward to having a desk instead of a dining room table full of papers). Candle sticks and vestments are in the works for another church and the last one I hope will be getting a surprise before Christmas. I will post pictures if I can.
Plus much progress on updating maintenance and hopefully cutting energy costs.
Wow. I need a business manager. All this and I found out one of the protestant pastor’s in town geits paide over 4k a month plus all the benefits I get. Pretty amazing difference in tithing heh?
Long overdue but I just got the pictures tonight of Children’s adoration. Here they come for your inspiration. A special thanks to all those who made the monstrance possible. Know that these holy little ones pray for you often.
The Man in the Monstrance
The Children and I interact quite a bit.
For those of you who wonder what Fr. Todd Looks like.
The prostrations. The children practice decreasing so that Christ may increase. Notice the little one in the first and second picture. These children really understand who they bow before.
The Blessed Mother gave me a heck of a present on her feast day. Bishop Wilton Gregory was named to the Diocese of Atlanta. Why is that good news? My Bishop was strongly rumored. This means we get to keep him. Great things are happening in South Dakota.
I am becoming quite informed on varoius heating and cooling methods for structures. I spent quite a bit of my “day off” doing research on Geothermal systems. I am quite convinced they are the best overall system you can have. The problem is they are darn expensive to put in. The payback is quite good but you need to be able to show the long term benefits to sell the idea of that substantial of an investment.
Currently we heat with a 30yr old #2 heating oil furnace. That was fine and dandy when they put the system in and fuel cost $.35/gallon. Last year the fuel bill was $6000 at $1.20/gallon. We are getting prices between $1.60 and $1.80 this year. We are looking at heat, just heat, costing 20-25% of the budget.
Something needs to be done.
I visited a parish today in Bismarck that has one installed and spoke with their maintenance guy. He is happy. Tomorrow I am going to speak with the business manager over the phone and find out what the breakdown is.
I hope it can produce a substantial savings because the parish will run out of money before it runs out of people as the population in these small towns shrinks and the overall age goes up.
I must confess to a minor pet peeve of mine. I don’t like it when people co-opt Catholic terms to apply them to protestant communions. Case in point in this article: Defrocked. She can’t be defrocked because she was never frocked.
I am sure you could think of lots of similar words. There are some that really grate on me. Does anyone else share this annoyance?
Ut Unum Sint. We need to pray that they will return home one day.