Archive for November, 2008

November 22, 2008 – Giving Thanks

November 22, 2008

Well as I write my blog for this week I know what I would like to write about, but I am still mulling over how to approach it.  We are of course approaching Thanksgiving – the holiday on which besides gorging ourselves with food is also the holiday when many of us take a personal inventory and pause to reflect on what we are thankful for.  It is easy to think of the more obvious things – our families, friends, and the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.  However, my mind is going toward the not-so-obvious things that I am thankful for that make life a little more enjoyable.

I am thankful for internet shopping.  Years ago a trip of 40, 50 or more miles was necessary to buy certain things.  Now I can just sit at my computer and with a few clicks of the mouse I can have virtually anything on the way to my front door.  Also, a guy my size trying to fight through the narrow aisles of Wal-Mart for those last-minute gifts is not a pleasant thought for me or anyone in my path.

I am thankful for fuel-injected vehicles.  When I turned 16 the first car I drove was a 1970 Mercury Marquis.  This car had many interesting features, and one of them was its dislike for cold weather.  I remember many days trying to guess how many times I needed to pump the gas pedal in order for it to start.  Pump it too few times – no go.  Pump it too much – engine flooded.  And of course, even at that moment of ecstacy when the engine decided to start, it still had its doubts, and it still took a good 5 minutes of convincing before it decided it was ready to motivate.  Its so nice on cold mornings such as this one to be able to just bump the key and be on my way.

I’m thankful for New Balance shoes.  For years I tried many different brands of shoes and just couldn’t find one I really liked.  Some shoes would feel good but not last long, and vice versa.  Then I tried a pair of New Balance and I was hooked.  I hardly know they are on my feet, and at the same time they hold up very well.  Shoe problem solved!

OK, you are probably wondering to yourself why I am boring you with these things.  Well, I guess my point here is that we have so much to be thankful for, that many times we take the seemingly small things for granted.  Even in times such as this in the midst of a bad economy, 2 wars, and so much uncertainty, we are still a blessed people to live in a free land where our dreams can still be realized.

I am personally thankful for the fact that I have been able to experience 39 years of a good, happy life.  I am thankful that I can share this experience surrounded by a lot of good people.  I am thankful that I can go to a place where I can worship freely.  I am thankful knowing that God will always have my best interests at heart.  And I am thankful that I can share these thoughts with you each week.  One of the things I can do through my website host is to check how often each web page is logged on to. I am still amazed that at least a few folks each week click on “The Webmaster’s Blog” and read my drivel.  Thanks for your support of my blog and our website. 

Just a quick website note to close: I went through the links page and eliminated a few links that were no longer valid, and I also added a few new links.  One link I added is for St. Vincent High School in Perryville, where several of our students attend.  They have re-designed their website and it is really neat and thorough.  I encourage you to visit it and also to click on the link for Gibault High School to see what is happening there.  These are, after all, our schools also.

With it being Thanksgiving weekend coming up, I plan to take a week away from blogging (is that clapping I hear?).  Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your loved ones and be safe in your travels.  And of course, enjoy the FOOD AND FOOTBALL.  WEE HAW!

Peace.

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November 15, 2008 – It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like …

November 15, 2008

We have gotten to that time of year where I have to check my calendar and realize that we have still not reached the Thanksgiving holiday, yet the signs of Christmas are everywhere.  The city workers are putting up decorations around town, the stores are chucked full with Christmas merchandise, and there’s even Christmas music already on some radio stations.  I can understand, especially this year, that stores want to get the Christmas season going as soon as they can because this is their “make or break” time of year.  But the other stuff?  Doesn’t it seem that Christmas has lost some of its “innocence”?

I am not bashful to say that the holiday season is my favorite time of year.  There is a festive spirit in the air, and plenty of a couple of my favorite things – food and football!  But the last few years it just doesn’t seem that Christmas has the same feel that it had in the past.  I’m trying to figure out if it’s because I’m just getting older and the spirit of the season has changed for me, or if it’s because of the over-commercialization of the season, or if it’s just because that it is now just drug out for too long.  I am convincing myself that it is the latter.  I thought there was always something special about waking up on Christmas morning and listening to Christmas music to really set the mood for the holiday.  But when you have heard “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” 100 times on the radio already, somehow it loses its luster.

I suppose that if we want to restore the lost innocence of the Christmas season, we need to dedicate ourselves to focusing on what the season was originally intended for – to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  To make Advent a true time of preparation.  To keep the Christmas spirit flowing and the lights on even the day AFTER Christmas – maybe even through Epiphany.  So there is my 2 cents worth.  Now realizing that I have spent 3 paragraphs talking about Christmas on November 15, let’s move on.

I came across a really cool website this past week – www.mycatholic.com.  This website is full of information from Catholic sources as well as other news and information sources.  You can find reflections, scripture readings, news, information on the saints, and a ton of other stuff.  The really cool part is that at the top of the homepage you can go to a link where you can customize the website to your interests.  You can choose what news, reflections, etc. that you would like on the homepage.  I highly recommend this website as it is kind of a “one stop shop” for Catholic information.

I promised a while back that I was going to re-organize the links page on our website and make some additions and subtractions.  Well as yu noticed I haven’t gotten to that yet.  Hopefully this weekend I’ll have a chance to do some work on it.  Nonetheless, I hope you continue to use our website, www.maryhoc.org, and inform other folks about it.  I’m on there at least 2-3 times per week updating and adding things.  Let me know if you have any suggestions or would like to see something added to our website.

Here are some prayer intentions for the coming week – for President-elect Obama as he continues to prepare for the coming inauguration, for our country – especially those who have lost their job due to the slumping economy, for those serving in our military here and abroad, for Fr. Gene and his family, for the deer hunters that they stay safe, and on a light-hearted note: for the Cardinals that they sign a few free agents and make a trade or two and overtake the Cubs once again!

Stay warm.  Peace.

 

November 8, 2008 – Every Precious Moment

November 8, 2008

This past week was a week when it first began that I was sort of dreading.  I knew my schedule was going to be full this week with different errands, work duties, etc., plus a meeting thrown in this morning, and I thought to myself – “Boy, will I be glad when this week is over.”  It was the very next day I believe that I tore the page off of my daily spiritual calendar and it said something to the effect of “You have 24 hours in a day: Did you take even one minute to thank God.”  I think this was a reminder to me that even during those times when we are busy, or have to do things we don’t necessarily want to do, that our life here on earth is precious, and that we should not take any day for granted.  Or, as God is probably telling me – STOP WHINING!

I did not have the opportunity to attend the funeral Mass for Fr. Gene’s mother due to the meeting I had this morning, but I was able to attend the visitation on Friday evening, and was relieved to find Father in good spirits.  The meeting I had this morning was with the Deanery Reflection Group, which is a group that meets on occasion to discuss issues in the diocese and to share ideas that may benefit our parishes.  One of the things we talked about was how fortunate most of our parishes are to have dedicated priests who are there for us in our time of need.  Fr. Gene is certainly one of those priests, and I know that our parish community will be there for him in his time of need also when he returns in a couple of weeks.

The reflection group is usually a small gathering, but the discussion is always good.  There is not a parish that is not dealing with its own share of problems, but it is reassuring in a way to know that many of the same things we deal with as a parish are being dealt with in many other parishes – things such as declining attendance, effects of the economy, participation of our youth, etc.  This does not mean that we shouldn’t continue to work on these things, but it is good in a way to know that there are many other parishes riding in the same boat.

This Sunday the church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.  This is the Cathedral Church of Rome, and therefore, the Pope’s own church.  It is an amazing structure.  You can learn more about it and see photos of it by clicking this link below:

www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-st-john-lateran.htm

We as a parish are blessed to have a unique, historic church building with beautiful windows and accents.  But what if the church were destroyed?  What if Mass were celebrated in a gym or in the park?  Would it be the same – of course not.  But a building itself does make up our “church” – it is the people in the building that make up our church.  This is what Jesus points out to us in the gospel – we need to respect and care for our church and our buildings, but it is a mistake to believe that it is THE most important thing.  It is the community of a parish coming together to worship and celebrate our faith that is the most important thing.  And if we are able to do that, everything else will fall into place.

Well, our election has now come and gone, and we are preparing for President Obama.  I have heard mixed reactions to the results, but I have heard few people say that they hope that the next administration cannot get things accomplished and that they cannot help those who need it.  He and his advisors obviously have a difficult road ahead, and we certainly need to pray that God provide them wisdom and guidance.

Finally, I received a comment a while back that many times I had mentioned the Cardinals in the blog, but that I had not mentioned the St. Louis Rams.  Well, here is my response to that: Aren’t things bleak enough?  We need to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.  Or as I continue to hear that voice in my head – STOP WHINING!

Peace.

November 1, 2008 – Gone But Not Forgotten

November 1, 2008

Hang in there folks – 3 more days and the election will be over!  And life as we know it can resume again!  OK, I certainly do not want to give the impression that the political process is not important.  Obviously every election – particularly this one – will have a great impact on the future of our country, and I will be doing my civic duty and casting my vote on Tuesday.  But is a 2-year, $5 billion process really necessary?  In Canada, for example, the process of electing a prime minister takes about 4 months.  This may be unrealistic for us, but it’s nice to think about, isn’t it?

We had a very nice crowd for our appreciation brunch last Sunday.  It was a great meal, and everyone enjoyed each other’s company.  There are some photos on the website you can check out by clicking this link:

www.maryhoc.org/brunch0708

Events such as this remind us that we are a parish FAMILY, and a COMMUNITY of faith, and that it is not just the gifts of a few, but the gifts of everyone that will keep our parish strong.  One of my favorite hymns that we sing in church is “We are many parts, we are all one body.  And the gifts we have, we are given to share.”  Thank you again for your continued sacrifices for our parish.

This weekend on our Catholic calendar we celebrate two important feasts: All Saints Day today (November 1) and All Souls Day tomorrow (November 2).  When I talk to non-Catholics one of the most misunderstood notions about our faith is that we pray directly to our saints for help as if they were God, which of course is not true.  We pray to the saints to intercess for us on our behalf.  For example, when we have the blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blase, the celebrant prays “Through the intercession of St. Blase …”.  Having worked with several Confirmation classes, I have gotten more familiar with many of the saints, and their stories are very inspiring and make for interesting reading.

All Souls Day is the day set aside to especially remember those who have gone before us and to pray that God welcomes them into the kingdom of heaven.  I think this is one of the strongest aspects of our Catholic faith – our reverence for our cemeteries and our remembrance of those who paved the way for us.  I came across a prayer called “a prayer in a country cemetery”.  It has a “rural” twist to it but I think it can apply to all who have lost loved ones, and is certainly appropriate for this day:

Dear Lord, here lie in their last rest, the boys and girls, the men and women that worked on the land.  They knew the meaning of hard work.  They knew the joy and peace that is the product of labor.  Now we trust they know the peace and happiness of everlasting life with You.

They watched the sun rise often, winter and summer, over these hills and fields.  They worked hard by its light, and turned willingly to their rest at its setting.  Now they walk in the light of a Sun that knows no setting.  Lord, if they are still in the waiting room of heaven – in purgatory – bring them speedily to the light of Your peace and the happiness of Your presence.

These men and women all their lives long labored to provide what is necessary to sustain human life.  Now, or soon, they enjoy in all its fullness the life that You, Lord, came down to earth to give men, and to give more abundantly.

Dear Lord, bless us who labor now in the fields and hills where these dearly departed have worked.  Grant that we remember them with charity and kindness, walking revrently in the ways that they have left behind them.  Grant, too, that we may finally meet these women and men, these girls and boys, in the eternal mansions that You are even preparing now for us.  Amen.

May we keep their spirit alive.  Peace.