Archive for June, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009 – The Trouble With the Truth

June 26, 2009

I think this is several weeks in a row now that I have posted a blog on a Friday.  No particular reason, just has worked out that way.  I hope you have gotten used to the new format of the blog.  The new service I am using allows me to track the number of daily visits to the blog, and how those visitors get to the blog, whether it be from the church website, etc.  Kind of neat.  I hope our heat wave hasn’t taken too much of a toll on you.  It appears that we may see at least some relief in the coming week. 

There certainly has not been a lack of news this week.  Form the continuing unrest in Iran, to the deaths of 3 famous celebrities (the old saying came true again, that celebrities die in groups of 3), to yet another politician having to admit to an extramarital affair.  With all of this news of course comes a lot of analysis by the so-called experts.  In the case of the SouthCarolina governor, the topic that was being thrown out was whether he should step down as governor.  Obviously an important question, but at no time did any of the conversations turn to the question of why he did not tell the truth in the first place, or why he felt he needed to stray from his family.  The sole focus was how this was going to affect his position of power.  One commentator said that “it is a matter of the heart, it is completely separate from politics.”  Another commentator said that he should have said that he was going on a trade mission – considering that South Carolina is one of the largest textile manufacturing states – and then snuck out to see his girlfriend.  Huh?

I guess the comment that I was waiting to hear, and the comment that I wait to hear in any of these types of situations, is can we trust someone who would commit an act that is morally wrong, and on top of that try to hide the act and eventually lie about it?  Does this person really know right from wrong, and does this person really have a full concept of the truth?

On the surface, you would think that the concept of truth would be an easy one to understand.  Be a straight shooter, call a spade a spade, come clean.  No problem, right?  So if it is so straight-forward, why is it that so many people struggle to grasp it?  The struggle to find truth certainly is not a new struggle.  Before Jesus was put to death and was before Pilate, Jesus made the statement that “I came to bring truth to the world.  All who love the truth are my followers.”  To which Pilate replied “What is truth?”  Is it that people really do not have a hold on what the truth is, or are they afraid of the consequences that revealing the truth may lead to?  I tend to think it is the latter.  Look at the baseball players who have used performance enhancing drugs.  The few who have come clean and admitted their usage have basically been forgiven, and have gone on with their careers and lives.  But many continue to deny the obvious, fearing that coming clean will cheapen their career accomplishments. 

I have mentioned before that I am a fan of country music – not just because of the tune of the songs, but because there are some great lyrics that really put life into perspective.  One of my favorite singers is Patty Loveless, and some years back she put out a song called “The Trouble With The Truth.”  One of the lines in the song says that “The trouble with the truth is its just what I need to hear … it’s everything I want and it’s everything I fear.”  Powerful words.  We want to seek the truth but we don’t want to see what the truth holds.

I didn’t write this blog to get up on a moral “high – horse”, or to become the truth police.  God and everyone know that I have plenty of flaws of my own, as do all of us.  But this shouldn’t stop us from striving to continue to spread the message that the truth, no matter what our definition of it is, is what we as Christians should be ultimately striving for, because as Jesus said, “I came to bring truth to the world.”   

Just a couple of wrap-up thoughts: Please pray for the priests of the Diocese who have received new assignments, that they may have smooth transitions into the new chapters of their ministries, particularly our former pastor, Msgr. Dennis, who will now be pastor of Red Bud and canonical pastor of Ruma.

Finally, we continue to work on planning for our parish mission.  There are extra Mission prayer cards on the radiators in the back of church.  Feel free to take one home or take one to someone who would like to pray for the success of our Mission.  Also, we have scheduled a planning meeting for Tuesday, July 28 at 7:00PM in the Parish House.  If you have volunteered to help with the Mission or would just like to know more about it, you are invited to come to the meeting.  Keep spreading the word about the Mission and invite, invite, invite!

Thanks again for reading.  Have a happy and safe upcoming 4th of July weekend.  Peace.

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Friday, June 19 – All About Fathers

June 20, 2009

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Welcome to our Southern Illinois sauna, or summer, which has hit with a vengeance.  Next week doesn’t sound any more promising, with temperatures again in the high 90’s.  WHEW!  Pray for those who have to work outdoors and be exposed to the elements, and of course for those who are not fortunate enough to have air conditioning in their homes and are suffering through the heat.

As the title of the blog says, this entry is all about fathers.  Happy Father’s Day to all of our dads this weekend.  This holiday seems to take on a little different aura than Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day has a more sentimental feel to it – bringing breakfast in bed, buying flowers, picking out just the right greeting card, and you wouldn’t dare let Mother’s Day go by without a phone call.  Father’s Day, on the other hand, seems to take on a little more light-hearted approach.  This is the holiday that’s all about breaking out the grill and finding yet another horrific necktie to add to the collection.  OK, I’m teasing – at least a little bit.  We certainly should not downplay the role that our dads play in shaping who we are.  

Our culture, though it has evolved over the years, still takes on the perception that the main role of the dad is to go out and make as much money as you can and provide for the family.  But I’m sure that when you ask children their fondest memories of their dad, it’s not that they worked a lot of overtime, or that they kept the yard mowed – it’s the times that he played catch in the yard, or that he was the head cheerleader at the ball game, or that he was the one who handed you the keys to your first car.  Our dads are there to teach their children the truth, to teach them about the realities of life. So thank you dads for the many, many roles that you play to ensure that your children have the best of everything.  You can go to our website, www.maryhoc.org, to find some links to pages dedicated to Father’s Day.

Again, this post is all about fathers, and we have another group of fathers that are important to us – our priests.  Beginning today, Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests”, as noted on the banner pictured on this post.  The year will conclude on June 19, 2010, when there will be an international gathering of priests in Rome.  As have our biological fathers, our priests have played a major role in shaping who we are and in teaching us the importance of turning to our faith in everything we do.  I know they certainly have played that role in my life.  As the next year goes on, from time to time I will recognize those priests who have influenced me and are still a part of who I am and what I do.  Please pray for the health and well-being of all of our priests in a special way throughout the coming year.  For more information on this year-long remembrance, you can click on this link:

www.usccb.org/yearforpriests/index.shtml

Finally, I got comments from a couple of people that they like the new blog format.  You never know what is going to happen when you try to switch everything over from one service to another, but it appears that so far, so good.  thanks again for reading.  Try to stay cool this week.  Peace.

June 12, 2009 – A Different Look

June 12, 2009

Thanks for visiting the blog once again.  You may have been taken aback when you first pulled it up because the blog now has a different look to it.  I received word earlier in the week that the service that was previously hosting my blog was no longer going to do so.  Another victim of cutbacks and the economy.  So I had to find another host, which I did.  Hopefully you will not see any changes on your end – just a little different looking format.  You are still able to view past blogs, and you may still leave a comment if you wish, though I have received very few comments since I began this blog about a year and a half ago.  I’m not sure if that means people are happy with what they are reading or if they are so flabbergasted that they are rendered speechless!  I’ll assume it’s the first and move on.  Oh the perils of a webmaster.

Speaking of the term “webmaster”, I had posted a while back that sometimes I do not really feel that comfortable with the term “master”, because I am hardly a master at this stuff, but this is the common term when referring to someone who maintains a website, so I rolled with it.  Well I was reading something the other day that said that referring to oneself as “master” goes against biblical principles, and a more appropriate term would be “webservant”.  Well, for 2 years I have used the term “webmaster”, and I think one change at a time is enough, so unless there are any objections, I think we’ll just stick with that.

Change and transformation is the focus of the feast we celebrate this Sunday – the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  We of course celebrate the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday.  This feast is a reminder to us that the Eucharist is the center of our faith as Catholics.  It begins as one of the most basic human actions – the sharing of a meal –  and in the end provides us the most important thing we can ever have – the presence of a loving God giving Himself to us in the presence of bread and wine.

Jesus is present to us in every way, shape and form in the Eucharist.  His words are here.  His acts of blessing, thanksgiving and healing are here.  Reminders of His cross and resurrection are here.  The Eucharist is the greatest sign we have of Christ’s love for us.  We as Catholics can attend Mass anywhere in the world, and we will see this universal sign of Jesus’ love being celebrated.

The Eucharist is something that all Catholics should be proud to exclaim, and we should be proud to invite other guests to our table.  As we have been mentioning for some time now, we will be having our Parish Mission from September 27 – October 1.  We have stressed the fact that we would like those who have been inactive in their faith to be invited to this event.  We would also welcome those who are not Catholic but who may have expressed interest in the Catholic faith or maybe are just curious about what our faith is all about.  The Mission will focus on the sacraments, so this would be an excellent opportunity to learn more about who we are as Catholics.

Again, I hope I haven’t inconvenienced you too much with this change of blog hosts, and I hope you can navigate around it OK.  If you have any questions or concerns, just drop me an e-mail at webmaster@maryhoc.org.  Thanks again for continuing to read the blog, and also keep checking our Twitter page at www.twitter.com/maryhoc for any updates that may occur during the week.  Hopefully the Cardinals have gotten through their offensive drought, and can re-claim first place.   

Until next week, Peace.

June 6, 2009 – Talking Stats

June 6, 2009

Summertime usually brings a little slower pace to things around the parish.  Not that there still isn’t plenty going on with roofing projects, vacation bible school next month, and of course continuing to plan for the Mission in September.  But overall there are generally a few less meetings and a few less activities.  So in trying to come up with a subject to write about this week I glanced around at some news items and came across an article from Catholic News Service.  Annually a directory is published called the Official Catholic Directory.  This year it is 2100 pages worth of material, but thankfully this article just hits on the highlights.  It is basically a statistical summary of what the U.S. Catholic Church looked like on January 1, 2009 as compared to a year earlier.  If you would like to read the full article for yourself, here is a link to click on:

www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0902595.htm

These are a few highlights of the article: From 2007 to 2008 there were decreases nationwide in the number of Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, and Marriages performed in the Catholic Church.  The number of Catholic parishes and elementary schools also declined.  However, on the flip side, there were small increases in the number of priests, permanent deacons and diocesan seminarians.  There were also more students in Catholic colleges and universities.  Catholics continue to make up 22 percent of the total U.S. population, which is unchanged from last year.

So in going through the article and trying to digest all of the numbers, what does it all really mean in the end analysis?  As I was told more than once in school, statistics can be manipulated pretty much however you want them to be.  You can take some of the numbers and put a positive spin on them, and take some other numbers and put a negative spin on them.  I think the main thing I take away from the article is that the face of the Catholic Church continues to change.  The church we see now will not be the church that we see in 10 or 20 years.  Times continue to evolve, and it is the challenge of the church to evolve as well.

I hear comments from people such as “there sure aren’t as many people in church as there used to be,” or “young people sure don’t go to church anymore.”  I can’t argue with statements such as these, but we have to look a little deeper as to why this is occurring – it isn’t just a function of people ignoring the church, but population trends continue to shift, younger people are moving to other areas, etc.

Bishop Braxton did make a good point in one of our pastoral council meetings – he basically said that the strength and viability of the church shouldn’t just be judged on the sheer numbers, but are we continuing to carry out Jesus’ mission and evangelize to others?  Are the people who are present in church getting the full experience?  So as we look at the current state of the church, perhaps we need to brush some of the numbers aside and focus more on things such as whether the church is giving me what I expect, or what can I do to continue to spread the good news of the Gospel?  This is one reason I think we can look forward to our Mission – it will be a time to perhaps re-focus our energies on the positive ways our church can make a difference in our lives.

Finally, just a personal note of thanks to you for your compliments on our website, and what we continue to do with it.  You may have seen that Tony LaRussa, the Cardinals manager, sued Twitter because someone set up an account with his likeness and was posting a lot of negative comments toward players.  This lawsuit has since been settled.  I just want to assure you that our new Twitter account is genuine – it is me and all me – (what a scary thought).   If you have any quick updates to share about goings on in the parish or church as a whole, I can put them up very easily and quickly on our Twitter account.

Enjoy the day of sunshine.  Peace.