Archive for July, 2009

July 24, 2009 – Better Late Than Never

July 24, 2009

Well even though it is late July the trees and the grass still look as green as they did 2 months ago.  My prediction is that we will enjoy this refreshing weather until around August 19 (first day of school), when I think we will probably see temperatures close to 100 degrees and humidity of 80%.  Can you believe that school is less than a month away?  I’m sure that the students, teachers and parents can’t believe it.

Well I have been promising for the last couple of weeks to write a little bit about Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (truth in charity).  In scanning the internet, many people have already thrown in their 2 cents worth through various reports, articles, blogs, etc.  So I thought it was time to throw out a thought or two of my own.  Have I read the entire document?  No.  Am I a big expert on documentation that comes from the Vatican?  Hardly.  But I feel I have grasped many of the main points of the encyclical and can still throw out my observations.

The encyclical is a response to the global economic crisis.  The Pope calls for a global economic system that puts the importance of the common good ahead of individual profits.  I certainly do not believe that the Pope is saying that it is wrong for people to profit from their business ventures.  On the contrary – if the business is not profitable, it will not survive.  However, I think the central message being conveyed is that our economic system cannot be guided solely on profit-taking.  Quoting from the encyclical: “Once profit becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.”  I think this gets to the teeth of what led us into this crisis – greed.  Many people saw opportunities to line their pockets – whether it be through speculation or other means – without taking into regard the circumstances that would follow and the people who would be hurt in the process.

The Pope touches on many issues in this document.  Any one of them could lead to a lengthy discussion.  A few of the other themes from the encyclical are:

–  the failure of world leaders to successfully deal with migration, which often is provoked by the terrible situation in under-developed countries, and is made worse by the inability of developed nations to protect the dignity of immigrants

–  the wrongful exploitation of international aid, which often does not reach the intended destination

–  the attitude of de-valuing life, particularly in developed countries which can produce a society that “ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good.”

–  the importance of allowing Christian faith to be a moral guiding force, which can occur “only if God has a place in the public realm.”

In the reading I have done and in the opinions I have seen, it is no surprise that the typical person will see things that they agree with, and some that they do not.  People will read the same material, yet take different views of it.  And in the end, will this encyclical result in a radical change in how the global economy works?  Probably not.  When I was in college I remember talking to one of my older professors.  He said that so much is written – journals, theses, books, etc., but in the end analysis nothing really changes.  However, I think what documents such as this do is to promote thinking and discussion, as evidenced by all of the internet chatter.

It is also OK to have opinions that may differ from what the Pope tells us in the encyclical.  For example, the point is made of the right for groups of employees to organize into a labor union.  Personally I work for a non-union company,  and feel that in at least some cases unions have been exhorbatant in their demands and that this has led to the downfall of some companies and thus jobs.  However, anyone who is a Catholic Christian should be in agreement with the basic premise of the encyclical: that charity is the principle that Catholic social teaching is based on, and that we should make the effort to apply this principle to real every day life situations.

I hope you take the time to read at least part of the encyclical and if you do, leave a comment and let me know what you think.  Next week I have a meeting Saturday morning in Belleville with the Diocesan Pastoral Council, so my blog entry next week will probably come a little later than usual.  I should have some information to pass along from the meeting.  Until then, have a good week.  Don’t forget about our Mission planning meeting this Tuesday.  The time is drawing near.  Peace.

P.S.  So much for the Cardinals not making any moves!  Playoffs, here we come!

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July 18, 2009 – The Good Old Days

July 18, 2009

Wow, what a beautiful day!  This is one of those days when you walk out the door and all of the sudden you have a little better outlook on things.  The cool fresh air, a Cardinal victory last night, ah life is good!  I had mentioned last week that I had hoped to read at least part of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”, and to blog about it.  Well, I’m still hoping to do this.  Some very important things got in the way this past week – home run derby, all-star game, etc. etc.  Anyway, hopefully I can get to that topic in the near future.  Our prayers by the way go out to Pope Benedict as he recovers from his surgery on his broken wrist.

This month of July has certainly seen its share of celebrity deaths, with the latest being Walter Cronkite.  I can remember as a little kid that we would have supper around 5:00PM and then Walter Cronkite would come on TV to deliver the news.  With all of our means of getting news now, whether it be by TV, internet, cell phone, etc., it was kind of nice back in those days to just have a set time and a set person to get our news from.  You felt like you could trust the information you were getting and you trusted the person delivering the news.  Now there are multiple news sources such as Fox and CNN, and of course all of the internet sources, that try to get our attention by sensationalizing the news and worrying more about getting to a story first than getting a story right.  That’s one of the things I miss about the way the world was years ago.

I’ve said before and I still believe that things moved at a slower pace say 20-30 years ago.  Now it seems everyone has 100 things on their plate to do at once.  But of course there are some things we have now that I wouldn’t want to give up.  I would not want to be without my cell phone, especially in an emergency such as car failure.  I would not want to go back to the old vinyl records.  You first had to say a quick prayer that all the mechanisms on the record player worked, then you had to try to find the song you were looking for, and finally when it all worked, you had a scratchy, muffled version of a song.  Give me my CD’s and I-pod any day!  I also would not want to go back to the old cars with no fuel injection.  The first car I drove was a 1970 Mercury Marquis.  The thing would take up 3 parking spaces the way lots are laid out now.  And in cold weather – well if you pumped the gas pedal too little, no go.  Pump it too much, engine flooded.  I’m grateful that you can now pretty much count on hopping into vehicle and being ready to go.

I guess my point this week is that there is nothing wrong with being nostalgic, while at the same time embracing the advances that continue to take place.  As they say, life is about change and nothing ever stays the same.  And there is always some type of loss that comes with change.  But there is also something to be gained with what is in the future also.  One Sunday morning I was flipping through the channels and of course there was the usual lot of TV evangelists on.  One of them was particularly energetic so I stopped to listen a little bit, and he said something that continues to stick with me.  He said “we are always so worried about tomorrow, because we forget about what happened yesterday.”  In other words, God has guided us from our past to today, and there is no reason to believe that He will not do the same for us tomorrow.  Then the TV evangelist asked for my money (ha, ha).

I’m a little late in cranking this blog out so I’ll leave it at that.  The first letter with information about our Parish Mission went out early this week, so if you didn’t receive yours, you should be shortly.  Please share the information with anyone you think would enjoy the Mission experience.  Even if it is someone you assume would say “no”, ask them anyway.  Make them tell you no.  And who knows, maybe they will just say “yes.”  After all, life is about change.

Thanks again for reading.  Enjoy the gorgeous weather.  Peace.

July 11, 2009 – More Random Thoughts

July 11, 2009

I threw another curve ball at you – back to a Saturday blog.  Have to keep everyone on their toes!  I see on my blog report that 3 people already checked the blog today, so I guess I better get cranking.  The problem is that I really don’t have a lot to talk about this week, so I’ll just throw out some random bits and see where it goes.  I have to admit that this past week was somewhat of a lazy one for me.  I didn’t have any meetings or anything to attend and I was pretty well caught up on other things, so I spent my evenings catching up on my Cardinal baseball and other somewhat useless activities.  I’m looking forward to watching the All-Star Game on Tuesday (Monday night I will be conducting a prayer vigil in hope that Albert Pujols doesn’t blow out his elbow in the Home Run Derby).  Another sign I’m getting old(er) – 10 years ago if someone offered me a chance to attend an All-Star Game, I think I would have jumped at the chance.  Now I’m content to huddle by the TV with my favorite snacks and enjoy in the peaceful solitude of home.

–  Good luck and best wishes to those who will be attending and conducting our Vacation Bible School this coming week.  At last report there were over 50 kids who registered – right around the same number as last year.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our DRE, Cheryl Gross who always does a fantastic job in organizing the event.  She literally works on this for months to make sure that everything is set and ready to go.  We also must of course thank all of the volunteers who will be giving up their summer evenings for a week for the benefit of our kids.  Thanks a lot everyone!

–  Be watching your mailboxes for the first mailing about our upcoming Parish Mission.  It will include a letter from Fr. Gene as well as a brochure jam-packed with information about the Mission.  And as I always remind you – keep reminding your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. about the Mission.  It is not too late if you would like to submit the name of someone you would like to have an invitation sent to for the Mission.

– Keep sending out your prayers this week to all of the priests who are taking on new assignments effective this Tuesday the 14th, including of course our former pastor, Msgr Dennis who will now be pastor at Red Bud.  Also pray for our cluster parishes who will see changes in leadership.  St. Boniface in Evansville will now have Fr. Rafi Kuttukaran as their new administrator (Fr. Jack Joyce is moving to St. Barbara’s in Okawville).  Also, St. Pius in Walsh will now be joined with Our Lady of Lourdes in Sparta, with Fr. Lawrence continuing as administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes and now also assuming administration of St. Pius.  In this year for priests, pray for them and all of priests for contentment in their ministry and for their health and well-being.

–  You may have seen on the news or on the internet that Pope Benedict XVI has released his third encyclical titled “Caritas in Veritate”, or “Charity in Truth”.  I have not read a lot of it yet, so I think I will save commentary on it until I have studied it a little more.  It is basically a writing in response to the global economic crisis.  To read the encyclical and to read comments about it, you can click on this link:

www.usccb.org/caritasinveritate

I am not worried about having material for blogging over the next few weeks.  As I look at my calendar, I see after this week that the meetings start in again, and of course there’s still a lot to be planned for our Parish Mission.  Thanks again for visiting and reading each week.  There was one day this week in which there were 14 hits on the blog!  Must have been a slow, slow day!  Have a great week!  Go Cardinals!  Peace.

July 3, 2009 – Thank you, Fr. Kribs

July 4, 2009

I hope you are having a good 4th of July weekend thus far.  I had thought about not making a blog entry this weekend since it was a holiday, but then I thought well, how could I let down my loyal fans? (ha, ha).  I hope the rest of your holiday weekend is fun and safe.  As I mentioned on the Twitter page (www.twitter.com/maryhoc), we need to take a moment or two this weekend to thank God for the privilege of living in a free country, and to remember the sacrifices that our forefathers made in order to allow the freedoms that we enjoy.

As I talked about a couple of week’s back, Pope Benedict XVI declared this a “year for priests” from now until June 19 of next year, and that from time to time I would recognize the priests that have influenced and inspired me throughout my life.  This morning I was listening to one of the sports talk stations out of St. Louis (yes, I listen to sports talk radio.  Not only am I a computer geek, but a sports geek as well).  Anyway, the host was having folks call in and sharing stories about a coach or coaches who they felt had a positive influence on them.  As I was listening, it occurred to me that we can look at priests as “spiritual” coaches.  They play a big part in teaching us the fundamentals of our faith, and they motivate us to put those fundamentals into action.

My first spiritual coach was Fr. Charles Kribs.  Fr. Kribs came to St. Mary’s in 1970, the year after I was born, and stayed until 1986, so obviously Fr. Kribs had a great influence on my faith life.  He was there through all of my grade school years, for my First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation.  I admire Fr. Kribs because not only did he teach me how important my faith should be in my life, but because he always showed great faith in me.  Whenever he needed a last minute server or lector, I can still remember his head peering out the sacristy door and his finger pointing in my direction, and I knew it was “showtime”.  Some people may tire of being put in this position, but I didn’t.  I knew he was counting on me, and I didn’t want to let him down.

Those who were around Fr. Kribs at Christmas and Easter time recall that he was a little nervous around these times (OK, he was a complete bundle of nerves, but that’s besides the point).  It was extremely important to him that these special times of the year received their proper recognition with a reverent liturgy.  I think all of us servers felt the wrath of Fr. Kribs during these times of the year.  But in looking back, I know that he wanted us to show our faith in a special way and to bring the Lord to the forefront not only during these times, but during the entire year.

Fr. Kribs told me on more than one occasion that he appreciated my faithfulness in serving, lectoring, etc.  I considered this a true compliment and still do to this day.  And I know that his influence plays a large part in my faith life to this day.   So I thank Fr. Kribs for teaching me to put my faith in God no matter what the situation.  Fr. Kribs currently resides in the Hinke/Sense home for retired priests.  Please pray for him and all of the retired priests who continue to give so much of their lives in dedication of their faith in God and God’s people.

Do you have a Fr. Kribs memory or story?  Feel free to leave a comment.  I will touch on more of the priests in my life as this year goes on.  Thanks again for reading.  Until next week, Peace.