One common way to think about the Church is as a big spiritual family. God is our Father, and in Baptism we become his adopted children, and brothers and sisters to each other. This week we celebrate, with Catholics around the world, two holy days that help us think about the whole family of God.
November 1st is All Saints Day, a day to honor all the saints in heaven. I like to think of the saints as our older brothers and sisters in God’s family. We all know that you can learn a lot from watching and listening to your older brothers and sisters. That is especially true of our relationship with the saints. Their example and words teach us how to be good members of God’s family – just as they were when they walked this earth. Moreover, just as a good older brother or sister is always happy to help us, so the saints help us with their prayers before God’s throne.READ MORE
There is a great story in the Second Book of Maccabees, Chapter 12, which tells how Judas Maccabee, the hero of the story, comes across some of his soldiers who were killed by the enemy. These soldiers were fighting for Israel’s religious freedom against pagans who were persecuting and killing those who practiced their Faith in the One True God. But they were wearing pagan amulets, a big sin against the First Commandment. They were basically good men who had done something wrong.READ MORE
As All Souls Day (November 2) approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to our loved ones who died over the years, and to all the faithful departed. All Souls Day, and the whole month of November, is a special time for Catholics to pray for all those who have died. It is our firm belief that God can and does use our prayers to help our loved ones get to Heaven.
That said, I want to turn my attention to the most important prayer we can offer for someone who dies, the Funeral Mass. The Holy Mass is the most powerful prayer we have, thus the Funeral Mass is the most powerful prayer we can offer for a loved one who has died. While other prayers, such as those said at the Funeral Home during the Wake or at the graveside before burial, are also important, they pale in comparison to the Funeral Mass.READ MORE
Next weekend we observe World Mission Sunday. It is a day to pray and support the work of missionaries around the world. Since our Lord first commanded His disciples to ‘teach all nations’, the Church has endeavored to do just that.
Among other things, there is a special collection on World Mission Sunday. Unlike the Mission Co–op Appeal which was held a few months ago to help support a specific mission, the collection on World Mission Sunday is used to support the missionary work of the universal Church. You may use the Mission Sunday envelope in your packet, or simply put your offering in an envelope marked “missions.”READ MORE
It was nice to see so many people and animals at last Sunday’s Blessing of Animals in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Fr. Pat conducted a beautiful Prayer Service. It included some prayers, a Gospel Reading, and a really nice reading from the Life of St. Francis. There was even a song or two.
In addition to a lot of dogs, there was also a cat, a parrot, and even a chinchilla. While some of the animals got a bit restless, they were all good enough that I could hear the whole service! It was nice to gather and pray with so many people whose pets mean so much to them.READ MORE
Many of you have kindly asked about my niece’s wedding, and I am happy to say it was beautiful. It was a great family gathering to celebrate a wonderful event. Thanks to all of you who were praying for my niece, Veronica, and her new husband, Stephen.
One of the things I most enjoyed about the wedding was seeing so many relatives I haven’t seen in a while. Between covid and other things, family gatherings have been more limited for the past year and a half. In fact, the wedding was the first time I saw all of my aunts and uncles at the same place in over two years! God willing, we will see more of each other in the coming months.READ MORE
This week Father Gilbert will make his annual priest retreat. In her wisdom, the Church requires every priest to make a five day retreat each year. Experience has taught the Church that doing so not only brings many blessings to her priests, but also to the people they serve.
Please pray for Father Gilbert as he makes his retreat. Having enjoyed the assistance of your prayers when I made my own retreat back in June. I know how powerful it is to have many people praying for you while on retreat. God grants so many blessings to us in answer to our prayers for each other, and we should always be grateful to Him for that.READ MORE
I hope everyone had a good Labor Day weekend and is ready to get back into the swing of things! Our parish, which is always busy in some way or another, really seems to get busy this time of year. The beginning of school and CCD is a big reason for this, but there is much more happening.
One of those things is our annual Parish Communion Breakfast, which we had to cancel last year and are glad to have again. It will be held next Sunday (September 19th) following the 9 AM Mass. This year’s affair will consist of a Continental Breakfast. Many thanks are due the Knights of Columbus, who are providing the food for the breakfast.READ MORE
This Monday is Labor Day, a day to honor all those who work for a living. As Catholics we believe that work is part of God’s plan for us. St. Paul, in one of his letters, tells us to ‘earn the food we eat by working quietly.’ He also admonishes those ‘who do not keep busy, but act like busybodies.’ He even goes so far as to say that ‘those who do not work should not eat.’
In this St. Paul is certainly not putting down those who cannot work due to age, disability, or circumstance. Neither is he, who constantly commands us to practice charity, discouraging us from helping those who truly are in need.
But St. Paul is reminding us that work has a place in God’s plan, and we do well to reflect prayerfully on the good we can do by working according to His will.
Most of you know that I just came back from my vacation. I had a wonderful trip. It was restful, and I saw lots of trains, which is exactly what I wanted to do! While it was nice to go on this trip, it is always nice to be back home.
While on the road I read (or listened to) some good books. The first was The Guns of August by Barbara Tuckman. It is a very thorough, yet enjoyable, account of the opening days of World War I. One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the way the author went beyond the names and dates and explored the personalities of so many of the generals, leaders, and other people involved.READ MORE
In today’s Gospel reading Our Lord encounters the unbelief of those who follow Him, but are not prepared to follow any farther. The evangelist tells us that “Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray Him.” What a sad knowledge it must have been for Him. May we not be among them. Fortunately, the Twelve Apostles have given up everything to follow Christ and are not prepared to turn back now. Their time spent with Jesus has helped them to grow in thevirtue of faith. St. Peter says, “Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
As I look back today on my first year of priesthood, all but the first week of which has been spent here at St. Philip and St. James, I see the biggest growth in my spiritual life. Of course the priesthood is one of many vocations that God may call any of us too, all of which are ultimately a vocation to become a saint. If we truly live our vocation, holiness should naturally follow. But it helps to stand in the presence of the Lord Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, every day at Mass.READ MORE
As you read these words I will be on vacation, probably in western Nebraska. Knowing I would be on vacation, I prepared this column before I left in order to share a few things with you.
A few weeks ago, I told you that our parish received a grant of some $7,500 from the Works of Mercy Collection that was taken in our diocese. That money was given to support our parish Soup Kitchen and Food for the Needy Program. Last week we received an additional $50,000 from the Works of Mercy Collection to help support our parish school.READ MORE
After Mass last Sunday I had dinner with my mother. We met at my sister Natalie’s home and had a great time. It was a quiet gathering for us, my brother-in-law Phil was the only other person there. But it was great to enjoy the time and meal with them.
Next Sunday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption. It is one of those few times a year when an important Holy Day of Obligation falls on a Sunday. The good part is that we will celebrate this Feast of our Blessed Mother at all the regularly scheduled Masses that Sunday.READ MORE
Can you believe it’s already August? Summer is flying by. I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as I’m enjoying mine.
Last Thursday evening I enjoyed a good time with many of our Altar Servers and their families. We attended an Iron Pigs Baseball game together. While I certainly love baseball, most of my fun that evening came from visiting and talking with the servers and their families. It was nice to spend an evening with the servers who do so much to help our priests at Mass, and the families who support them in that good work.READ MORE