Archive for June, 2014

June 28, 2014 – Taking Care of Business

June 28, 2014

First things first – we need to continue to pray for Pope Francis, who cancelled another appointment yesterday because of what the Vatican termed a “sudden indisposition.”  However, he did keep his appointments today, so hopefully again it is just a matter of tiring out from a very busy schedule.  The Pope has a light schedule in July, so hopefully he will take the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate.

Today (June 28) we wish a Happy 70th Birthday to Bishop Braxton.  In his 9 years as our Bishop, I certainly have had disagreements with his demeanor and his approach to some things.  However, he has also faced many challenges in his time here, such as continuing to deal with the past claims of clergy sexual abuse, and also having to make many difficult decisions dealing with the fate of our non-viable parishes and a dwindling pool of clergy.  Let us pray for Bishop Braxton’s health and well being in the years ahead.

You may have read in last week’s bulletin that we have decided to make some changes to the structure of our Parish Council.  Just to recap, our Council will now meet every other month instead of on a monthly basis.  Also, we are eliminating 2 positions from the Council which will leave us with a membership of 11 people.  On the surface, it would appear that we are downplaying the importance of the Council.  However, the structure of the Council has been basically the same for over 25 years, and these changes really are just a reflection of the present day situation.  Our parish membership is less, people’s schedules are fuller, and communication is easier with the advent of cell phones, e-mail, etc.  So really this is a move to maintain a strong Council.  We have 2 positions to fill at our next meeting on July 30.  If you have never served on the Council, maybe you would like to consider it.  We discuss many issues, and we have a fun social time at the end of our meetings (with FOOD).

As Father mentioned at Mass this weekend, we have received the final tally for the replacement of the boiler system.  The exact figures are: Asbestos removal … $11,840.00, replacement of boiler and pipes, etc…$83,250.00…grand total…$95,090.00.  This does not include the need to replace the heaters in the gym, to repair the roof over the sacristy, and to seal the bricks on the back side of the church.  Yes this is a lot of money, especially considering that we had a major donation campaign just a couple of years ago to repair the steeple.  However, our parish family has shown its generosity in the past, and I am confident it will again.

We are fortunate to have many parishioners who realize the importance of maintaining our gathering space and being able to worship as a family.  Pope Francis has talked on numerous occasions about worshiping as a community in order to maintain true Christianity.  In his Wednesday audience this past week, he spoke on how God formed the church to unify humanity.  He said that “Our identity is one of belonging. To say ‘I am Christian’ means to say: ‘I belong to the Church. I belong to this People with whom God established an ancient alliance that is always faithful … We are Christians not only because of others, but together with others” he pointed out, describing the Church as “a large family that welcomes us and teaches us to live as believers and disciples of the Lord.”

Observing how our relationship with God “is personal but not private,” Pope Francis stated that our journey of faith “is born of and enriched by the communion of the Church … Whoever says they believe in God but not in the Church, has a direct relation with Christ outside of her, falls into an absurd dichotomy … God has confided his saving message to human persons, to witnesses, and it is known to us through our brothers and sisters.”

However, to walk our path in the Church is not always easy, because “at times we encounter human weakness, limitations and even scandal in the life of the Church,” the Pope continued.  But despite these difficulties, “God has called us to know him and to love him precisely by loving our brothers and sisters, by persevering in the fellowship of the Church and by seeking in all things to grow in faith and holiness as members of the one body of Christ.”  If we make preserving the fellowship of our church a priority, the guidance of the Holy Spirit will give us the means to maintain our physical presence.

OK, we have dealt with a lot of heavy-duty church business, so let’s go to the lighter side.  Last time I gave some words that might have a different meaning to Catholics than to other people.  This time, I present some things that you’ll probably never hear a Catholic say.  ” Man, I wish this confession line were longer” … “Good thing we got to Mass with so much time to spare” … “I never people-watch during the communion line” … “There are too many people in the front pews at Mass” … “My priest seems to have a lot of spare time on his hands” … “No, I don’t want a beer. I’m Catholic” … “I’m not at all self-conscious after Ash Wednesday Mass.  Let’s go to the bar.” … “The Catechism? Yeah, it’s a pretty quick read. Totally beach material” … “I don’t have any worries about the future of our medical system conflicting with my personal beliefs” … and finally, “All that exorcism stuff doesn’t freak me out at all!”

Finally, we wrap up the “Fortnight for Freedom” this Friday on Independence Day (by the way, am I the only one who still calls it Independence Day instead of the 4th of July?).  Most of us I’m sure will have plans on Friday, but just a programming note that EWTN will televise the closing Mass of the Fortnight on Independence Day at 11:00AM from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Have a great week and a happy, safe Independence Day.  Peace.

 

Advertisements

June 14, 2014 – Oh, Where to Begin ….

June 14, 2014

One of my all time favorite teachers, Sr. Elaine Freund, who was my high school composition and literature teacher, when asked how long a paper should be, always replied that we should be more concerned about the quality of our work than the quantity.  I could throw this out as an excuse as to why I missed the last couple of weeks of blogging.  I didn’t want to put out an inferior product.  Of course, that hasn’t stopped me the last 286 times, so forget that.  I could say I have been busy figuring out how to get the Cardinals to score more runs,but that really hasn’t taken hold either.  I guess my real excuse is that the lazy, hazy days of summer have set in, and the creative juices just weren’t flowing as much as usual.  I have, however, continued my daily postings to our Facebook group page concerning Catholic news items, obituaries, etc., so if you are not a Facebooker, you may want to consider signing up for it.

There is no way I can touch on everything that has transpired over the last few weeks, so I’ll just hit on what I can.  Back on June 3, our parish website, http://www.maryhoc.org, celebrated 7 years of being on the world wide web.  I want to thank everyone who has supported our web ministry over this time, and for all of the compliments I continue to receive.  The Holy Spirit truly has been at work in this branch of our parish mission.  Who would have thought that we would have our Parish Directory online, or that we would have a Facebook page, or so many other online tools.  I’m excited to see what the next 7 years will bring.

Since I have written last, Pope Francis not only completed his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was successful in bringing together Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a prayer meeting on Pentecost Sunday.  People who write headlines have the chore of trying to grab people’s attention with just a few words, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I saw a headline that suggested Pope Francis and Bartholomew not only were forging a close relationship, but had a “budding bromance.”  Um, I don’t think I would put it in those terms, but the two have established a strong personal connection based on mutual respect and a humble and yet determined approach to confronting global issues like peace and climate change.  They are said to communicate easily in Italian and share a genuine desire to work for the reunification of their respective churches, which have been split since 1054.  Francis and Bartholomew met several times during the trip and kindled reports that they want to hold a high-level “ecumenical synod” in 2025 to mark the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicea that produced the Nicene Creed. Different Orthodox and Catholic versions of the creed are one of the stumbling blocks toward unity between the two churches.  Let us pray that the efforts for peace continue between the Israelis and Palestinians, and for an end to violence in other parts of the world such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

For the third year in a row, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is sponsoring a “Fortnight for Freedom.”  The theme of this year’s Fortnight is “Freedom to Serve.”  It will take place from June 21 to July 4, 2014, a time when our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable in accord with human dignity and the Church’s teaching.  Be on the lookout on our website and on our Facebook page for prayer resources and other information.  You can also go to http://www.fortnight4freedom.org.

Last Sunday on Pentecost we celebrated the birthday of the church.  We Catholics should be proud of our faith, even though we may look at things a little differently than others.  Some words have a little different meaning for us Catholics.  For example, the word “Mass” to others is a scientific measurement of the amount of space something takes up, whereas for Catholics it is where you should spend at least one hour of your week.  The word “Lent” to others is past  tense for the word “lend,” as in “I lent him some money,” whereas for Catholics it is the time of the year when you determine what addictions you still have some control over.  The word “elbow” to others is the main hinge joint in an arm, whereas for Catholics it is what your mom throws into your ribs when you fall asleep during homily.  The word “collection” to others is a group of objects kept or stored together, whereas for Catholics it means trying to scrounge up a crumpled one-dollar bill to put it the collection basket so you won’t feel like a heathen.  Finally, the word “father” to others is a more formal term for “dad,” whereas for Catholics it means a spiritual mentor whom you wouldn’t dare swear in front of.

Speaking of fathers, I wish all of our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers, foster fathers, and any other fathers I failed to mention a very Happy Father’s Day!  We of course also remember our fathers who are deceased, that the Lord welcome them into the kingdom of heaven.  I also wish our spiritual fathers – our priests – a Happy Father’s Day!  All of our fathers have made sacrifices for us that we can never repay.  We especially pray for the current Father of our Catholic Church, Pope Francis, who showed that his 77 year old body may actually be human as he needed a couple of days of rest on Monday and Tuesday to recover from a recent brutal schedule.  Thankfully, he was back at it on Wednesday.

I think that covers at least some of it.  Have a great week.  Peace.