Father Kevin’s Reflection– March 6, 2016– Fourth Sunday of Lent

4th Sunday of LentLent is coming close to an end.   In the coming weeks, the Church enters the final part of Lent: Passiontide.   Next week … until the Vigil of the Resurrection in the night of Holy Saturday – crosses and statues are veiled and the Mass of each day takes us more deeply into the heart of the Paschal Mystery, as the Church cries out in faith:  “Save us, Savior of the world, for by Your Cross and Resurrection You have set us free.”

 

The veiling of sacred images during Passiontide is a custom with roots in Christian antiquity, and it prepares us for the great sundering of Christ’s atoning death. But even in Passiontide, stained glass windows and the Stations of the Cross remain visible, and these artistic catechisms can teach us a great deal about the dignity and difficulty of being disciples of the Lord Jesus. This is true in any Catholic church, but it is most especially true in St. Anthony and St. Augustine where we are blessed with sacred art of great beauty and power.

 

Running through the nave are the Fourteen Stations of the Cross, a devotion made popular by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.   (Interestingly enough, St. Francis made popular the tradition making of the Nativity Scene at Christmas too.)   At a time when Christians could not travel safely to Jerusalem because the Holy City was under Islamic rule, St. Francis devised a simple method for Christians to follow the Lord Jesus in the Way of the Cross in their own churches. The fourteen traditional stops or stations on the Via Dolorosa are depicted in works of art that invite pilgrims to pause and pray while meditating on Christ’s passion and atoning death on the Cross.

 

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You … because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection– February 28, 2016–Third Sunday of Lent

Lent.3Before my priestly ordination, I traveled back by car from the East Coast.   Driving through Pennsylvania, I met “the Amish” for the first time.    The Amish, was a community formed in the 17th century by a schism within the Mennonite movement in Switzerland.   They are best known for their radical separation from the world: they will not use modern technology, they dress differently from their neighbors, they cease formal schooling after the 8th grade, they refuse to serve in the armed forces, they will not participate in Social Security or purchase medical insurance, and so forth.

These behaviors are regarded as odd by most people, and with good reason: Such a way of life is not required by the Gospel, and in many ways it is contrary to the Gospel. And that is why Catholics cannot live like the Amish.

We do not dress differently than our neighbors. We do not fear technology or the benefits of modern science. We do not separate ourselves in politics, commerce, education, military service, or civic responsibility from those who do not share our faith. And we do not do these things because to do so would make it impossible for us to fulfill the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28. 18-20)   We are called to be salt and light in the world, not to hide behind a barricade for fear that we will be polluted.

The impulse to flee from “the world” is, of course, also a part of Christianity, if by “the world” we mean that part of the created order (starting inside of us) which is in rebellion against God. For this reason, religious life has been with us since Christian antiquity, and all Christians need a deep formation for genuine holiness of life. But that is not the same as the Amish refusal to live in the world, something that Catholics cannot accept as compatible with Christian discipleship. The Letter to Diognetus (written in the 2nd century) explains it:   “Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life … With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven … To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.”

Are we living as the “soul of the world”?

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection– February 14, 2016– Meaning of Lent

lent

A Time, Again, to Exercise some Spiritual Muscle

The etymology of the word “Lent” is inspiring … going to what we celebrate for over 40 days as a Christian church.   “Lent”  comes from the old English “Lencten”, meaning, “Early Spring” or “Spring Coming”.  As such, it is a special time for prayer, sacrifice, almsgiving and fasting as Scripture invites a Christian to live with seasons of more intense spiritual work, on the one hand, and times of festivity on the other (eg: Hebrews 12).

The purpose of Lent is to have us exercise spiritual muscles, we haven’t used for awhile (a Early Spring training … if you like).   The goal is to demonstrate not only to the world; but also, to actualize faith in ourselves … we can control and sacrifice worldly desires and wants to God and for God’s sake.   By doing so, we prepare for the lean times that may present themselves in a soul’s lifetime.

When I have a loss … when I experience desolations and emptiness … when I am seriously hurt (or a member of the family is hurt) … when I am challenged by things of this world – my  practices in Lent train me to know how temporary these situations actually are.   I learn I can and do endure for the sake of something greater than myself.    Having Jesus as our Model and Guide at Lent, we realize as Christians, He is able to transfigure this world (and our lives) for the greater glory of God.

When a soul prepares well: a good Lenten practice will make for a good Holy Week celebration.   A good Holy Week celebration then makes for a wonder filled Easter Season.

And, remembering that God will never be out done in love – I can tell you – when Easter comes around … WOW !   I discover how wonderful a treat the item that was sacrificed, when returned to me at Easter, is a great and true blessing.

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection– January 17, 2016–The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is in Progress

Cross 3The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is In Progress

Well … first things first.   What is so unusual about a Jubilee Year?

We’ve seen several special “years” in the Church.   (You may remember the Year of Faith in 2012–13.)  But an Extraordinary Jubilee is, as the name implies, something special.

The tradition of “jubilee” has its roots in the Old Testament, where the People of Israel would,  every fifty years, were to remember God’s mercy for them and that they were to extend mercy and forgiveness to others (not only for slights against them, but even monetary debts).    All hurts were required to be forgotten and never thought (or brought up again).   As the people would want God to forgive and forget … so it would be the same with the People of Israel.   This tradition has continued in the Catholic Church, where every 25 years a jubilee (or holy year) is called. The most recent was the Jubilee Year 2000 to mark the beginning of the new millennium.  An extraordinary jubilee occurs outside that normal 25 year cycle and is called to direct our attention to a particular event or theme.

Why Pope Francis call for this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy?

“Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy.   It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”   (Divine Mercy Sunday, 2015)

Our days can often be filled with experiences of division between friends and strangers, family and co-workers, and even within our Church.    This spiritual cancer , of course,  necessarily translates and reflects our “Christian World”.   More than ever our world needs mercy today, as seen in the frightening events of mass shootings and terrorism, war and rumors of war, and the incredible and unprecedented plight of millions of refugees from the war-torn Middle East.  Our own country seems more polarized and divided than ever over the most fundamental questions of life, family, and freedom.

Pope Francis has called us to step back, to recollect ourselves and consider God’s work of mercy in our own lives … how He has extended forgiveness to us and blessings for us … and … in return …  how we have and might still offer mercy and kindness to others.

Over the course of the Holy Year of Mercy, let’s use this space to offer suggestions for how we can seek mercy for ourselves and our loved ones and offer mercy to others.   A good start is the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.   We’ll be expanding on the meaning of those works of mercy as well as other ways to live out the Jubilee of Mercy.

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection– January 10, 2016– The Baptism of the Lord

Baptism of the Lord

As Christmas now ends, we take a moment to reflect on how Christmas bring us to the crib of Jesus.   We are claimed for Christ and His Kingdom at baptism.  The vast majority of Christians, including almost all Catholics, are baptized when they are infants, and this is most fitting. The sacraments are instruments of God’s grace, and even newborn babies need the grace of God. Moreover, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism,” and for this reason: “The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church.”  (CCC 1250, 1252).   But along with the indisputable benefits of baptizing infants comes a special danger: those who are baptized before the beginning of memory will have no recollection or understanding of the most important day in their lives.  Unless they receive the Gospel with saving faith and the meaning of their Baptism is explained to them as they grow, then they will not know that they have been born again of water and the Holy Spirit and have been made children of God, members of Christ and heirs of the Kingdom.  So, as John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, parents and god parents are reminded at each baptism:  “You have asked to have your child baptized.  In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith.  It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.   Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”   And, the parents respond in this faith: “We do.”  In other words, as Jesus begins His ministry at His baptism … the parents (and god parents) begin their ministry in perpetuating the faith until He comes again.

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection– December 27, 2015– What are the Five “Holy Days of Obligation”?

holy-familyWhat are the Five “Holy Days of Obligation”?

 

They are:

Friday, January 1, 2016 -Mary, Mother of God

Monday, August 15 – The Assumption of Mary

Tuesday, November 1 – All Saints Day

Thursday, December 8 – The Immaculate Conception

Sunday, December 25 – The Nativity of the Lord

Sunday, January 1, 2017 – Mary, Mother of God

(Then it starts all over again.)

 

These days mark significant Solemnities of our Catholic faith and since they do not always fall on Sunday (except once every 7 years) the Church wants us to celebrate them no matter what day of the week they fall.

Now … go home … get out the Sharpie and circle these dates in those new 2016 calendars and when you turn to the new month … you will see … and prepare yourself … for coming to the Holy Day Mass.  Four of them fall within a two month period (with the Feast of the Mother of God coming up next week).

All Catholics are bound to attend Mass for this Feast, either by attending a vigil Mass the night before or a Mass on the very day.  This gets a little tricky when a Holy Day falls either side of Sunday, so I’d like to review the options you have to fulfill your obligation to celebrate both Sunday and the Feast Day.

First of all, there is no way to attend Mass on Saturday and have “it count for” both the Solemnity and Sunday!  No, you must attend two Masses next week!  Please look on this as the great opportunity that it is … the chance to be reminded of God’s marvelous plan for our redemption that involved a woman without sin … Mary … who was chosen to be the Mother of God and give humanity (and flesh) to Jesus!  Hence, delight in the manifold graces that God will lavish on you each time you glorify Him through His Son in the Mass.  Enjoy and celebrate this wonder filled (wonderful) Christmas Season!   Remember, the Year of Mercy and Grace of 2016 will only occur once in our lifetime.

 

Father Kevin’s Reflection–December 20, 2015–Fourth Sunday of Advent

adventcandle4Ready or not, Christmas Day will be here …

5 days! Yes, schools will be closed, some businesses will be on ‘shut-down’ and many people will take time off for vacation.   So this might be the perfect time, to really slow down and reflect upon your life.  How’s it going?  Are you living in accord with your priorities … or are changes needed?

Ready or not, the New Year will begin … in 12 days!  This is the customary time to make new resolutions and to begin to live in the way you really want to live.  Of all the things you can hope for in the New Year, I suggest you contemplate the idea that we, the people of God, are called to become hope for the Church and the world.

Our Holy Father, Pope Emeritus Benedict, once said: “hope is a recognition of the ongoing need for salvation.”  In other words, we are not supposed to just sit still and await the arrival of the Lord as if He was some beautiful decoration coming to a world already saved.  Rather, we are to actively participate in the work of guiding others to salvation in Jesus Christ.

The goal to achieve … is God … for us and for all!  And that should be our top priority as we enter the year 2016.  So, ask yourself the question: “What can I do to help others begin or renew their relationship with Jesus?”  And then, ask yourself:  “What can I do to improve my relationship with Jesus?”

Do you have family members and friends who are living away from the Catholic Church for one reason or another?  Well, this would be a particularly good time to invite them to come back to union with God in His Church!  Great graces will flow during the Christmas Season and many people will feel the urge to be back in Church.  So, please pray for the courage and the words to invite all of your fallen-away family members and friends to come and be reconciled with the Church.

Encourage them to start the New Year out right by meeting with their Parish Priest and charting a course to come back into the Sacramental life of the Church.  As we celebrate the Great Mercy and Hope that God gives us when He gave us His Son 2015 years ago, let’s pray to actually become hope for many others as we invite them to come and adore Baby Jesus whose image is in the Crib Set, and whose True Presence is in the Tabernacle!

Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary~~

Holy Days of Obligation

Thurs Dec 24

5:00 pm Bowdle w/ 4:30 pm Caroling

Fri Dec 25     

8:00 am Onaka

10:00 am Hoven w/ 9:30 am Caroling                                        

Thurs Dec 31

5:00 pm Bowdle

7:00 pm Hosmer

Fri Jan 1 

9:30am Hoven

 


Surrounding Area Times:

Dec 24 

4:00pm Eureka

5:30 pm Leola w/ 5:00 pm Caroling

6:00 pm Herreid

8:00 pm Selby

8:30 pm Roscoe w/ 8:00pm Caroling

Midnight Ipswich w/ 11:30 pm Caroling

Dec 25

9:00 am Ipswich

9:30 am Herreid

Dec 31

5:00pm Roscoe

5:30 pm Eureka

7:00 pm Leola

Jan 1

8:30 am Herreid

9:00 am Ipswich

10:30 am Selby