Archive for January, 2009

January 30, 2009 – The Perils of Winter

January 30, 2009

Well I hope you all made it through the winter weather without any major incidents.  We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to those who have been out at all hours clearing the roads, shoveling the sidewalks, etc.  The weather of this past week has been a challenge for everyone, including the deer in the picture above that are rummaging for food.  I shot this earlier this evening behind my house.  I guess they didn’t make it to the grocery store before all of the milk and bread were bought up.  Things certainly could have been worse – many folks south of us still have no electricity and many may be in the dark for some time yet.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and everyone suffering from the effects of the weather.

An item in the news the last couple of days caught my eye – the woman who gave birth to octuplets (8 babies).  This is certainly newsworthy in itself.  Then it was revealed today that the mother already had six children, and is not married and lives with her parents who filed for bankruptcy last year.  I certainly wish all of these children the best, but to say the least it doesn’t appear to be the ideal situation.

I am not a parent, but I certainly respect the role of parents and the sacrifices that they have to make on behalf of their kids.  And I also know that the vast majority of parents have the best interests of their children at heart.  But stories such as this give me pause.  Did the mother think about the perils that these children could find themselves in?  There are of course the health issues that potentially come with implanting multiple embryos.  And then if the children do turn out to be in good health, there is of course the issues of providing them proper care and how they will manage financially. 

The church takes a lot of flack for its positions on natural family planning.  But is there any other scenario that is more natural and God-given than the blessing of having a child?  And concerning couples that are unable to have their own children – there are options available such as adoption.  I just feel that God should be the ultimate judge as to whom new life should be given.  I have been asked in the past if I wish that I had children of my own.  Ummm …. no.  Again, I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who made the choice to bring new life into the world and who devote so much of themselves to their kids.  But I just know in the bottom of my heart that it would not be my cup of tea, and I think that this is a decision that should be respected as well – and a decision that others perhaps should have heeded.

OK, I’m off my soapbox – on to other pressing matters, namely the SUPER BOWL, BABY.  I heard today that with the exception of Thanksgiving, the day of the Super Bowl is when the most food is consumed in our country.  I would feel out of place then if I didn’t do my part to keep this tradition alive.  Anyway, here’s my prediction (no wagering, please):  I will be rooting for the Cardinals and Kurt Warner.  I am always a sucker for the underdog, and there’s certainly no bigger underdog than a team who hasn’t won a championship in 63 years (well, actually the Cubs would be a bigger underdog, but this is football).  But in looking at the teams objectively, I thing the Steelers have more experience and the better defense, so I have to go with a prediction of Pittsburgh 26 – Arizona 13, and the hope that as usual, my prediction will be wrong.

Finally, a little Super Bowl joke to wrap things up: A young man was very excited because he had won a ticket to the Super Bowl.  His excitement lessened, however, when he realized that his seat was at the very top of the stadium.  So he searched the rows ahead of him for a better seat, and he found an empty one four rows from the field.  He approached the man sitting next to the empty seat and asked if the seat was taken.  The man replied “No.”  Amazed, the young man asked, “How could someone pass up a seat like this?”  The older gentleman responded, “This is my wife’s seat.  We have been to every Super Bowl game until now, but she recently passed away.”  “Oh how sad,” replied the young man, “But couldn’t you find a friend or a relative to come with you?”  “No,” the older gentleman replied, “They all decided to attend the funeral.”

Enjoy the game!  Peace. 

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January 24, 2009 – Just a Few Thoughts

January 24, 2009

Seems like a good time to once again do a “bits” blog – just some random thoughts that have been floating in my head.  This is always dangerous territory because it is difficult for my brain to process more than one thought at a time, but we’ll give it a shot.

I witnessed a true real-life miracle yesterday.  After two days of intense searching and praying, I finally found what had been so elusive – an empty bay at the car wash!  Good thing because our cold winter air has returned with a vengence.

On the homepage of our website, www.maryhoc.org, one of the things you will find is a “featured link”, in which I put a link to a website that has caught my eye or one that I find useful.  The link that is there now will take you to the Vatican’s “YouTube” channel.  This was put up just this past week.  It has short video clips of some of the Pope’s public appearances as well as other items surrounding the Vatican.  It also has other links to Vatican resources such as Vatican radio.  What could be next – maybe a Benedict blog?

I’m sure you caught at least some of the coverage of the inauguration and the transition to President Obama.  It does amaze me that after well over 200 years that the transition of power from one President to another remains peacefully intact.  We certainly are facing our share of problems as a country right now, but we are still a very fortunate people to live in a democratic society where we can worship freely and have a chance to pursue our goals.  Many people in the world can only dream of such an existence.

This past week also put a focus on pro-life issues as the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade judgement was marked.  We as Catholic christians need to remain informed and to continue to make our views heard – not just on certain days, but throughout the year.  We need to also keep in touch with our legislators.  Yesterday President Obama reversed an executive order and will now allow international groups to receive federal funding to promote and fund abortions overseas.  I’m sure there will be other legislation coming as well, including the Freedom of Choice Act that was spoken about in church this past weekend.  A good website to keep informed on these issues is www.nchla.org.  It includes links to find out more about these issues and how to get in touch with our representatives via e-mail.

Talk about being on a high and then crashing to a low – last Sunday the Arizona Cardinals won the conference championship and a trip to the Super Bowl.  The Cardinals had not won a championship game since 1946.  I was rooting hard for them mainly because of Kurt Warner and his incredible comeback story.  But then after the game during the trophy presentation, the trophy is handed to Bill Bidwell, one of the most incompetent and cheap owners ever to exist.  The man who gave us so many years of bad football was now holding the championship trophy over his head.  If the Cubs end up winning the World Series in my lifetime, well, let’s just not go there.

Finally, we celebrate Catholic Schools Week this coming week.  I once again thank everyone who works so hard and gives so generously to keep our school such a wonderful place to learn.  We certainly can point with pride to our teachers and staff and students for their accomplishments.  Let us never take this centerpiece of our parish for granted. 

Time to let the old brain cool down.  Peace.     

January 16, 2009 – A Week for the History Books

January 16, 2009

Well what is one to do on a cold, snowy, blustery Friday night?  In my case, it is keeping my fingers nimble on my keyboard and pounding out another blog.  This past week was one of the more active weeks on our website, www.maryhoc.org, with 228 pages viewed.  I thank you once again for continuing to use our website and for your compliments on it.  As always, I am happy and willing to post whatever information you have on our site, or if you have any photos from parish events or from our past here at St. Mary’s, I can scan them and post them also.

The eyes of the country and the world will be on Washington D.C. this coming week as Barack Obama becomes our 44th President.  I think given our current situation in our country we have reason to be hopeful that things can begin to turn around, but I think we also need to be realistic in that things certainly will not turn around overnight.  Our prayers need to go not only to our new President, but also to his new administration, the new Congress, and to all of our public servants, that they keep the interests of the people they represent at heart as they tackle  all of the difficult issues facing our country.

The inaguration of our new President will grab most of the headlines this coming week, but this is not the only major event taking place in Washington, D.C.  January 22 will be the 36th annual March for Life.  Thousands of people from all over the country will make their voice heard for the cause of the dignity of human life.  Of course most of us cannot attend this event, but there are many other things that we can do as Catholic citizens.  On the homepage of our website I put a link to the Respect Life Ministry of our diocese.  This website has information about things we can do such as writing to our representatives, etc. in order to make our voice heard.  You can also go to the website www.usccb.org, and on the left hand side you can click on the “Life Issues” tab, and there is information on the church’s stance on all life issues, not just abortion.

No matter if we have a computer or not, or if we type a blog or not, there are a couple of things we can do as Catholics to promote the cause of pro-life: we can of course pray for those who have been disregarded by our society and for a change of heart for those who de-value life, and we can be good witnesses in the decisions we make.

Finally, we celebrate the holiday of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday.  Dr. King provided great lessons for all of us in his speeches.  There is one speech in particular that I share with my religion class every year.  It was not one of his more well-known speeches.  It was a speech he gave to a group of junior high school students about six months before his assassination, and it provided a good guideline for all of us to live by.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the speech:

“Number one in your life’s blueprint should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness.  Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody.”  “And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it.”  “Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.  If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail.  If you can’t be a sun, be a star.  For it isn’t by size that you win or fail.  Be the best of whatever you are.”

Here is a link to read the full text of this speech:

www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/whatisyourlifesblueprint.htm

Enjoy the historic week ahead, and I hope that we thaw out in the coming days!  Peace.

January 10, 2009 – Speaking of Baptism

January 10, 2009

This past week was “getting back into the groove” week – no holidays during the week, and the kids back in school.  The holiday season is always a nice change of pace from the normal routine, but after a couple of weeks of Wednesday seeming like Friday, and Friday seeming like Monday, it’s nice to get back into the normal routine.

Speaking of the kids getting back to school, major kudos go out to the students and teachers in our school for the great job they did with the Christmas program this past Thursday, especially considering that the original date had to be postponed due to the weather.  I’m sure it was tough for the kids get get the “holiday spirit” back, but they did wonderfully.  It was a very nice way to put an official wrap on the holiday season.

This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.  To me this is one of the best examples of Jesus’ humanity as well as his divinity.  I’m sure Jesus didn’t stand out in the crowd in any way that day – He was simply one of many whom John the Baptist was proclaiming his message to.  Little did anyone know that the Messiah John the Baptist was promising would come was actually in their midst.

The fact that Jesus was willing to be baptized among everyone else that day was an indication of how important our own baptism should be to us and the place it should hold in our life.  Do you know what day you were baptized?  Do you know who the priest, deacon or person was who performed your baptism?  Do you have a copy of your baptismal certificate?  Do you know who your sponsors were?  Amazingly enough, some people I know cannot answer some or all of these questions.

There are a few large parishes who have taken the step of sending a card or some type of rememberance to folks not on their birthday, but on their “baptism” day.  Obviously it takes a lot of resources to do this, but this should not stop us from trying to find out a little more about our baptism if we are not familiar with what happened that day.  We may have to blow the dust off of the baby book, or place a phone call to our parents or to the church where we were baptized.  Our own baptism is an event that should be recognized and celebrated, as in its own way it is sort of a “birthday” for us, the day when we found new birth in Christ.

This coming week in our country is recognized as National Vocations Awareness Week.  We are asked always, but especially this week to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  All of us, even those of us who have considered a vocation in the past and decided to move in a different direction, still have the obligation to encourage vocations.  Let us pray then in a special way this week for more willing men and women to step forward and answer the call. 

Finally, I hadn’t mentioned this last week because I know it would be too painful for some people in the parish, but the Cardinals lost one of their more popular players, Aaron Miles, to the, um, well, the Cubs.  To Cardinal nation – keep the faith, nothing is impossible, remember I am with you always, and any other Scripture that you can muster.  The Lord works in mysterious ways (though not as mysterious as Cardinal management).

Stay warm this week (temperatures possibly near 0).  Peace. 

 

January 3, 2009 – Plans for ’09

January 3, 2009

Welcome to the first blog of 2009.  I hope you had a good New Year’s holiday.  Now the challenging part comes for me – how long will I continue to write ’08 on my checks and paperwork?  If past history is any guide, I would say it will probably be about mid-February.

My last few enteries to the blog were pretty easy because the holiday season gives me a lot of material to draw off of.  Now I have to put my thinking cap on again and come up with some original material.  Hmmmm…..

Well, one thing I noticed over the past week is that the website got more traffic than it has for some time.  I have been happy to hear that besides our own parishioners logging on to it, that some out-of towners have found it as well.  Fr. Gene remarked that an out-of-town funeral director had logged on before he contacted our parish.  Also, I now have relatives out of town who are taking a peek at it.  That was one of my hopes when we launched www.maryhoc.org, that not only would our parishioners use it, but also those who were former members of our parish now out of town, or those away at school, etc. could log on and read the bulletin and keep up with the happenings. 

I have also started to think about what we could do with the website in ’09.  Right now in my religion class we are on the subject of “Being Catholic”, and tomorrow one of our activities will be to talk about some of the leadership roles in the church – not just leaders such as the Pope, Bishops, and Pastors, but also the leadership provided by lay people as well such as directors of religious education, parish councils, various committees, etc.  We have many functioning committees in our parish who put in a lot of time to make sure our parish runs smoothly.  However, I would venture to guess that some folks are not aware of some of these committees or may not be sure what their functions are.  So one thing I would like to post on the web is a listing of these committees as well as a description of what their functions are.

Also, I know that I have mentioned this before, but I would like to do some more work on the links page of our website.  As you can imagine, there continues to be more and more websites popping up that are Catholic-related, and so I would like to categorize these better on our page.  I’m sure there are some websites out there also that I have not come across, so if you see one you like, let me know and I can include a link to it.

There will be many other things coming down the pike as well that I’m sure will be included on our website as well, including the dinner/auction which is less than 3 months away, our parish mission which is still in the initial planning stages but will hopefully occur in the last week of September, and other things that will arrive in the meantime.  Keep checking back often, and as always, you suggestions are welcomed.

I want to offer my congratulations and appreciation to Fr. Gene who is marking his 35th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on January 5.  As we can only imagine, the priesthood is a vocation that has many challenges, and to have embraced those challenges for 35 years is quite a feat.  We have been blessed as a parish to have had dedicated, caring men as our pastors, and Fr. Gene is certainly no exception.  I hope you can join us on Sunday, January 11 at 12:00PM for the potluck dinner we are holding in celebration of this milestone.  It will be a simple affair – just a means for us to come together to enjoy each other’s company and to offer our congratulations.

Finally, this weekend we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany.  As we remember the wise men who came bearing gifts to the newborn Jesus, we also remember the gifts that the Lord has bestowed on us.  May we use these gifts for the cause of justice in 2009.

Peace.