Archive for November, 2010

November 27, 2010 – Rejoice in Preparing

November 27, 2010

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and I hope you got to spend it with your family and friends.  Holidays, besides everything else that goes with them, bring a stiff test of my willpower.  I would say that this go-around I did OK, but not great.  I limited my dessert intake to one piece of sugarless peach pie, but was unable to control myself when it came to the turkey and the deer sausage.  So I’m calling this one a wash and giving myself a C, and try to do better next time.

As I write this the country radio station I’m listening to is playing Christmas music, even though Christmas is 4 weeks away.  Everything that we are exposed to at this time of year seems to push us toward an ending.  Get your shopping done now to get the best deals, get your Christmas decorations up now to be judged and admired, get your fill of Christmas now because once Christmas day is over, its time to move on to other things.  The end of the calendar year is right around the corner.  But God knows what is best for us, and what we should really be focused on.  So as we begin the season of Advent, God is tapping us on the shoulder and saying wait a minute, let’s back up to the beginning so we can prepare ourselves in a meaningful way for the coming of the newborn Savior.

With the beginning of the Advent season we BEGIN a new church year.  We light ONE candle on the Advent wreath, just a first step on a four step journey.  We hear the word PREPARE time and time again in our readings and songs.  Prepare is not a word that we always want to hear.  Our focus is on the reward, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  However, we also hear the word REJOICE time and time again.  God is telling us that our preparations will indeed bring a huge payoff in the end, a Messiah who will sacrifice himself for our sake, so we can experience our own payoff in the end – eternal life with God.

People talk about the spirit that the holiday season brings.  People seem a little happier and a little more generous, but once the holiday season ends its back to the normal routine.  Certainly our lives bring us many challenges to face, but as the message of Advent tells us, there should be joy in our preparation, as this will be rewarded with the coming of a Savior, as God promised.  So I wish you a “Happy New Year”, and I wish you joy in your preparations as well as your celebrations this Advent season.

One of the songs we sing during this season is titled “Proclaim the Joyful Message”.  One of the reasons that I began this website and the blog is so we could have a way to proclaim the good news of what is going on in our parish, and the wonderful things our parishioners have done and continue to do.  This includes parishioners who have moved on to other places but are still doing amazing things.  If you saw the Belleville – News Democrat this past Thursday, besides the seemingly hundreds of Black Friday ads, you may have also seen an article about my nephew, Ed Niermann.  Ed attended college for one semester after high school, but he had a long time dream of being a Marine, and so he enlisted for 4 years.  During his time he served one tour in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq, making it through some perilous situations.  When his 4 years were up, he returned to college and is now pursuing another dream of his – to be a physical education teacher and a coach.  Not only is he back in college, at 26 he is playing football and is the starting center for McKendree College, who is playing in a quarterfinal playoff game today.  Here is a link to the article if you did not see it:

I share this with you not just because I am a very proud uncle, but because Ed of course grew up here and was a member of our parish.  I know there are many others who grew up as members of our parish and are now out and about doing great things.  I would love to hear and share these stories.  You can leave a comment here or e-mail me at, or if you see me out and about, throw something at me to get my attention and talk to me.

Well I am happy to say that I was not one of the ones at Wal-Mart at midnight on Friday morning waiting until 5:00AM for that once in a lifetime bargain.  I admire the determination of those who did, but as one’s life evolves and as one observes human behavior, the point is reached where one must ask oneself:  “What the @!%$* are these people doing?”

Don’t forget the activities being sponsored by the PTO this coming weekend for the Christmas on the River, including the chicken & dumpling dinner on December 3 and the home tour on December 4.  Our school will also be participating in the Lighted Christmas Parade on Decenber 3.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  Peace.

November 19, 2010 – The Time Of Thanks

November 20, 2010

Well as we approcach Thanksgiving the obvious thing to talk about this week would be what I am thankful for.  I could try to come up with something more original, but  the first thing I am thankful for is that I am not a proud man, so the obvious topic it shall be.

The first thing I am thankful for is very, very obvious.  I am thankful for improved health since last Thanksgiving.  I still have some bouts with headaches and head pressure, but they do not last as long and are not as intense as they were.  I am thankful to feel that I am a contributing member of my community and my parish again, and I am thankful to be able to look forward to each day again. 

I am thankful for sugarless cherry Life Savers.  On my diet I had to give up a lot of the things I had previously enjoyed, but I can still get my sweet cherry fix.  I am also thankful for baked Doritos.  They are sort of like diet soda – they can claim that it tastes like the real thing but it really doesn’t.  However, it’s close enough that it can help satisfy your craving.

Along the food lines, I am thankful it appears that we are close to having a Subway in town again.  I had gotten into the habit of eating lunch at Subway a couple of times a week before the fire.  Hey, it worked for Jared, though I have no plans of running a marathon anytime soon.

I am thankful that Stan “The Man” Musial is deservedly receiving the Medal of Freedom.  In this age when the sports reports are more like listening to arrest reports, Stan Musial is a wonderful example of how people should conduct themselves.  Though I never saw him play in person, I am still an admirer of his for the class and humbleness that he shows when he is recognized in ways such as this.  In this era of multi-million dollar contracts and athletes who seem to take their stardom and good fortune for granted, Musial always talks about what an honor it was just to be a big league ballplayer and to wear the Cardinal uniform.  Again, a more than well-deserved honor.

I am thankful that when I feel like I am doing some stupid stuff, I can turn on the news and see that I am being out-performed, such as this morning when thousands of people were packing movie theatres at midnight just to see the new Harry Potter movie a few hours earlier than normal people.  Though it shouldn’t really be any of my concern, I beat my head against the wall all day trying to think of some sort of reasoning why someone would be in a movie theatre at 2:30AM to see a movie they could view at a resonable time a few hours later.  All I accomplished was making a dent in the wall.  Some things just can’t be explained.

I am thankful that I am not one of the hearty folks who has to work  at a Wal-Mart, or Best Buy, or Target at 4:00AM on Black Friday.  Imagine trying to control a herd of caffeine-hyped bargain hunters who still have upset stomachs from the day before, only to have to break the news to them that there were only 5 of those $299 TV’s.  And speaking of holiday shopping, I am thankful for the wide variety of gift cards now available.  You can feel like that you actually got somebody something without really giving them something, and you don’t have to worry about them returning your lousy gift.

Though I am thankful for many of the simple pleasures that life brings, in a more serious vain I am thankful for the things that make me one of the most fortunate people around.  For my family, good friends, a roof over my head, and living in a place that even though it has its share of problems, is still the land of freedom and the most prosperous country in the world.  And of course I am thankful for my relationship with God and for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon me.  I drove by the Methodist church today and the sign said “How Can We Not Give Thanks?” and cited a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  I read the passage when I got home, and one of the verses said that “We are praying, too, that you will be filled with His mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going no matter what happens – always full of the joy of the Lord, and always thankful to the Father who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in the kingdom of light.”  Thank you Jesus for your sacrifices in order that we can be open to the joy of God’s kingdom.

Finally, I am thankful as always for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you through this blog, and for the ability to spread the happenings at St. Mary’s through our website, and of course for your continued compliments on the good you seem to get from it.  We need to make known to others that we are thankful to be a part of this parish and especially a part of the Roman Catholic faith, and the principles that it stands for.  Hopefully our website is a small way that we can spread that message.  Thanks again for all you do for our parish and our faith.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your family and friends.  Word on the street is that I will be sampling both fried and smoked turkey this year.  Turkey is good for you, right?  Especially with a little gravy, and a few mashed potatoes on the side, right?  RIGHT?  It’s one day, OK?!?!  I’ll let someone else have the pie this year.  Celebrate well!  Peace.

November 13, 2010 – Quiet As a Mouse

November 13, 2010

Well it was almost 3 years ago that I began doing this blog and so I thought maybe that it was time to bring another perspective to things, so today I will be handing over the blogging duties to someone else – the St. Mary’s Church mouse.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy his commentary, and I’ll be talking to you later:

Well hello.  I’m the mouse that hangs around St. Mary’s Church.  I want to thank the webmaster for letting me fill in for him this week; he is a great guy and a loyal friend, although just between you and me I get tired of his rambling about the same old things all the time.  If he mentions the St. Louis Cardinals or all of his computers one more time I’m going to knaw the buttons off of his remote control and the keys off of his keyboard.  Anyway, when he asked me to write his blog for him this week I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I asked him and he told me to just write about what I observed around here, so that’s what I’ll do.

I like hanging around here at St. Mary’s.  The church building is old, but that’s good for me because there’s a lot of nooks and crannys to hide out in.  Most of the time it is pretty quiet in here so I can roam around pretty freely.  The only times I really need to be careful and hide are in the mornings around 8:15 and on the weekends.  I actually like it when people are here because that usually means there will be music and praying and many times a good joke.  It seems, though, that the crowds aren’t quite as large as they used to be, except when they put up the Christmas decorations and the Easter lillies.  I guess folks like to come and admire the trees and flowers.

The weather has been unusually nice for this time of year, but I know that soon it will be turning cold.  I hope the furnace holds out this year.  Brian told me that they have had to make a lot of building repairs in the last year and they don’t have much money to do anything else right now.  I see there’s some other things in here that need to be done such as painting and carpeting, but I guess they have to wait until they get some more money before they can fix these things.

Food in here is pretty scarce.  Usually all I can find is some chewy, funny tasting bread and some wine.  You would think they would at least have some cheese with the wine!  Sometimes after the weekend I will get lucky and I’ll find some Cheerios or gummy bears that a little kid dropped on the floor and that their parents didn’t bother to clean up.  So during the week I have to sneak over to either the dumpster at school or at the KC hall and hope that I can find something, although I don’t know why people would throw away such delicious food, especially the KC fried chicken.  I am one bloated mouse when I find some of this stuff.

One thing I’ve noticed aroung here is how friendly the people seem to be.  I have to be careful because after these weekend gatherings people will stand and hang around and talk, sometimes for quite a while, although there are others who go up and get their food and drink and head straight out the door.  I guess they think that they have more important things to do.

All in all I really like hanging around here at St. Mary’s.  It has a real homey feel and folks seem really nice.  And most importantly, there are no cats!  Its a place that I know I will safe and be treated with respect and dignity.  I think I’ll be sticking around for a while, and hopefully some of my friends that I haven’t seen in a while will come back again and join me.  Well I hope you enjoyed reading this.  I had some big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively.  Oh wait a minute, Brian’s back – I think he wants to say something before we post this.  I’ll see you in church (although hopefully you won’t see me).

Thanks again to my little buddy.  Just wanted to mention a couple things in closing.  First of all, this weekend I will be posting information on the website about Pope Benedict XVI’s request that we remember in a special way as we begin Advent in a couple of weeks the needs of nascent (newly developing) human life.  I wll post information and vespers for this that can be used on the weekend on Nov. 27th and 28th. 

Finally, Happy Birthday to Fr. Gene on November 14.  As usual he has skipped town hoping that his birthday won’t find him, but as we all know eventually they will find you!  Best wishes for good health and happiness in the upcoming year and for many more birthdays. 

If you have any ideas for something that you would like for me to address in the blog, let me know.  As you can see, my own ideas are being stretched very thin – turning over my duties to a mouse?!  Have a great week.  Peace.

November 5, 2010 – Life’s Seasons

November 6, 2010

Well last week I had oodles of topics to talk about.  This week I’m back in more familiar territory – trying to find the inspiration to come up with something to write about.  I went to many sources; first I tried the Scripture readings for the weekend.  Though very thoughtful they weren’t giving me a spark for an idea to write about.  So let’s go to the news headlines; still not really getting anything.  I think we have all heard way too much already about the election and politics.  OK, now where do I go (and you thought that this blogging stuff was easy).  For some reason I went back and skimmed through my last few blogs and it seemed that my entries have been a little more thoughtful and maybe a little more “message-oriented” than past ones.  Perhaps its because I’ve entered my 40’s now and have more life experience.  Perhaps its because I have been enduring my first round of serious health problems.  Or maybe there is some other reason that I’ve been looking at things from a different perspective.

I have heard singers talk about how sometimes the tone of the songs they record reflect what is going on in their lives at the time.  If they have experienced a tragic event, they may record more somber songs about heartache, etc.  If they have experienced a happy event, their songs may take on more of an upbeat tone about finding love, etc.  This train of thought (which I am trying hard to keep from derailing) got me to thinking about the stages of life – not necessarily the physical stages but how our perspectives change as we grow older.  One of my first memories as a little kid was being totally distraught because my toy train had broken.  It seemed like the end of the world to a 3 or 4 year old who didn’t have any other cares in the world.  Now looking back, I think about how silly it was of me to have reacted so harshly to such a small, meaningless thing.  But so life goes as we reach the different stages.

As challenging as life can be at times, the experience of the stages of life is truly a gift from God.  I have always felt that I would not want to live in an area of the world that is always tropical or always frozen.  I like to experience the changing of the seasons, and I think we can compare the stages of life to the seasons.  When we are small children we are like spring – we are starting to explore, we are starting to develop, we are like buds waiting to burst into full bloom.  Then as we become teenagers and young adults we enter into the “summer” phase of our lives – we are ready to set out on new adventures, we are ready to experience freedom, we have achieved full physical growth but still need to be nurtured.  Then as we become older adults we enter the “autumn” of our lives – we see how “colorful” and fulfilling life can be, we are witnesses to many changes, we begin to see the “harvest” of the work and deeds that we have done throughout our life.  Finally, we come to the end or the “winter” of our lives here on earth – we become less active, the sunsets come sooner and the daylight is at its least, and the cycle comes to an end as we await and hope for a new “spring”.

As with the seasons here on earth, there are some people who do not experience all of the seasons or stages of life.  Children contract cancer or other horrible diseases.  Young adults are involved in fatal accidents.  Why all people are not afforded the opportunity to experience life’s seasons is a question that only God knows the answer to, and until we meet Him face to face, it is our faith that must sustain us.

Thinking of life’s seasons also begs the question as to how many people have been deprived of the experience of the beauty of the changing of the seasons because of abortion.  It begs the question of how people can think of this life as an afterthought instead of a precious gift that could bring so much happiness and good to life’s seasons.  Many people go to great lengths in order to continue to experince life’s seasons, yet many people are willing to deprive people from enjoying any part of the experience. 

This evening as I was flipping through the channels I came upon an interview with George Karl who is the head coach of the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.  Last year he was diagnosed with throat cancer and endured aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  He came through it and is back coaching this year.  During the interview he was talking about how his perspective on life had changed.  He said that he did not get quite as stressed out about small things as he used to, and he makes sure now to be straight with people and to let them know what is on his mind.  Despite what he has been through, he said that we are given a life that is good, and it is up to us to make it great.  The experience of the seasons can truly make life great if we accept them and make the best of them.

Just one other little observation as I was flipping through the channels:  no matter what season of life we are currently in, haven’t we all endured enough Geico commercials?  Just sayin’.

Good luck to the St. Mary’s Hawks as they begin the basketball season.  The “A” team already has a win under their belt.  It has been a good week for this sports fan.  The Rams are actually playing  respectable football and the Blues are playing fabulously to start the year.  Life is indeed good.

Have a great week.  Peace.