From The Pastor's Desk
Holy Family 12-30-01
After spending the Holidays with your family, would you classify them as "HOLY"? Be careful how you answer that. I did not ask if they were perfect. I asked if they were holy. The perfect person, the perfect family doesn't exist except for the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. They are seen as the model family to which every other family should aspire. Shoot for the stars so that you will at least hit the treetops. Father Richard Rohr says that IDEALISM is a great enemy to Christian community and family. Idealism says that unless the community or family to which I am joined is not perfect, I will have nothing to do with it. Therefore, expect to be disappointed. If that is the case, you just as well go to a deserted island and live by yourself. But even there, when the wind blows just right, you might get clunked in the head with a coconut. Only in Heaven will we experience the perfect loving community. To be a holy family means to be a family who seeks God, a family that is filled with his Holy Spirit, a family who knows how to love and accept one another long before each of the members is perfect. Part of coming to the perfect love of God is the ability to love family members who irritate you and try your patience. How can we claim to love the God who we do not see if we can't love our neighbor who we do see? Holiness is a process, one of being pounded, hammered out, and burned in the fire over and over again. It is a process whereby I no longer live now, but Christ lives within me. Lord help us all to grow in holiness as we interact with one another in this cruel and fallen world. Raise us up to the heights of your Holy Family, our model and guide. We thank you for giving us a share in the wonderful life of the Holy Trinity, the community of love and source of joy for eternity.
Congratulations to Lucille Sievert who was chosen out of 150,000 people to run the Olympic Torch on January 10th at 12:25 in Nebraska City. The people of Sacred Heart and Ida Grove are rooting for you and proud of you!
4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas 12-23/25-01
"Father, I am just so distraught about this! I just received this new boom box and the darn thing won't work!" These were the words of a kindly and jolly woman to whom I take communion. I really wanted to help her. She told me that just the night before she had listened to some great Christmas music, then... Nothing. It just wouldn't work. Well...She didn't realize that she had pushed the pause button. It was as easy as another gentle push and a tremendous light of delight was back on her face as the Tanya Tucker tape began to play with beauty and clarity. The song of God's tremendous love is ALWAYS and AT EVERY MOMENT playing in our hearts. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room..." Jesus puts the song of his love and mercy in our heart but we often put him on pause to do everything else but listen to it. O what joy and peace we forfeit! The look of delight on that ladies face made my day. To see her so happy made me happy. When we finally get it...that is, realize God's love for us, we are filled with a peace and joy that nothing in this world can even begin to give. And God himself receives great delight and glory as our being proclaims his greatness! Most of the time we put the song of God's love on pause to deal with the chaos and racket of this world. Please reverse this process. Please put the abrasive and often draining voice of the world on pause to hear the voices of Angels sing "Glory to God in the Highest and peace to his people on earth!"
3rd Sunday of Advent 12-16-01
"Mom, why is the candle in the Advent wreathe pink this week?" How many of you moms have heard that question before? First, the advent wreathes in general shows a week by week progression and increase in light and warmth. The coming of the true light of the world, Jesus Christ, is getting closer as we look toward the great festive day of Christmas. The pink candle tells us two things:
1. Joyful anticipation: We are now half way through advent. Jesus, the Lord is just around the corner. Rejoice! The darkness is now giving way to the Light of the World. "The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light..." When our friends come to pay us a visit we are happy. When they say that they have just left Fort Dodge, we are ready to wait. Then, when they call us from Rockwell city we still realize they are a fair distance. Then, Joy fills our hearts when they call us from Odebolt. They are almost here. It's time to put the pumpkin pie into the oven and break out the bottle of your finest wine!
2. Patience: The fact is, even though the pink candle has been lighted, we still must wait... As we anticipate seeing the Lord face to face, as we look forward to heaven, we long for him, for endless peace and fulfillment, with great patience. Without patience, the joyfull celebration would be impossible. Your relatives who are coming to visit have to work long and sometimes hard hours to purchase the car that will carry them to your home. It takes time for the pumpkin to grow so that it may give your pie filling. A cheap wine takes a few months, while a fine wine takes years to age. Patient endurance brings about many great fruits. But you need not forget to joyfully anticipate what the Lord has in store for you.
BE PATIENT! WITH THE LORD THE BEST IS YET TO COME! BE JOYFUL! ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO PATIENTLY WAIT.
1st Sunday of Advent 12-2-01
On your mark. Get set. STOP!!!! What do you mean stop? That's not the way it goes. True! But for the Christian, stopping is what Advent is all about. It is precisely when we are gearing up to be the busiest, planning for Christmas and company and travel and a thousand other things, that the Lord invites us to come to the quiet, to find that place of peace where we can find him and rest in him. It is looking for the eye of the hurricane wherein lies calm and peace. As the Psalmist says, "In quiet and calm I shall find my peace." The hunter stops and waits in great silence and vigilance for the prize game to appear and then brings the prize down, game that will bring life, sustenance and feasting to the hunter and his family. We cannot truly feast at Christmas if we do not stop and prepare ourselves in this Advent (hunting) season. Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. May the Lord give all of us the grace to stop long enough each day so that we may find him and in finding him may we truly bring something to the table and truly give love and goodness to our family and friends in this holy season. Don't just do something, stand there!
34th Sunday 11-25-01
What do you possess right now that sudden tragedy or disaster could not take away? What did the victims of the September 11th terrorist attack possess that was not taken away? If your answer is SOUL then you would be correct. We have a soul, person, unique self, made in the image and likeness of God that is in fact immortal, that is, we have a beginning but no end. Last week Jesus talked about earthquakes, plagues, famines, wars, and all sorts of things that could do us harm, yet those who keep their eyes on him will secure their lives and not a hair on their head will be harmed. The only true security that we possess in this insecure and ever changing world is the security of being in union with the Lord, He living in us and we in him. It stands to reason then that if our soul or person is the most valuable and only indestructible reality that we possess, that we should make it a top priority to take care of it! What are some of the main ways we can take care of our soul? They are:
1. Confession: There should not be a day that goes by that we don't examine our life and ask God for his mercy and forgiveness. Left to our own we are very prone to sin. Sin is to the soul as infection is to the body. The more infection in our system, the weaker we are all the way to death if infection is too advanced. Daily examination, confession and repentance secures our soul and puts us right with God, others, and our self. If need be, please utilize the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation.
2. Prayer: The more we surrender ourselves to God in prayer and the more we open our hearts and souls to the infilling of his love, grace, wisdom, and presence, the healthier our soul
3. Struggle: If we are willing to enter into the struggle of life and fight against giving into a shallow existence of just getting by, the more richness and depth we will experience, hence enriching our soul. The more we are willing to fight the inner battles of the soul, the more victory, mental health, and freedom we will find.
4. Spiritual Direction/Friendship: By sharing your joys ands struggles with another, you will advance much faster and more deeply in the care of your soul. James says confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may find healing.
You have one soul in the one life, given to you by the one God for one eternity. Please take care of the most precious reality you have...YOU.
33rd Sunday 11-18-01
At the moment of greatest distress, just when everything seems lost, DEATH, THE END. We begin the new life of resurrection. As the preface in the funeral liturgy states "Lord for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven." This is great news! So what are the qualities of our new resurrected body going to be like? Lets name just a few:
1. LIGHT - We are Sons and daughters of light. The first letter of John States "God is Light, in Him there is no darkness at all!" Being filled with The Very light of God, we shall shine forth like stars forever.
2. COMPLETELY HEALTHY AND SICKNESS FREE - There will be no more Heart disease, dialysis, cancer, poor eyesight or hearing, not even a little ache or pain. No more panic attacks or worries, no more depression or loneliness. Pure and perfect heath for all eternity!
3. NO MORE ISOLATION, INSTEAD PERFECT UNION - We will live in a perfect union of love with God and each other, never to be parted again.
4. BEAUTIFUL - If you do not like your looks now don't worry. After a few years we call the rest of your life, you will be radiant and indescribably beautiful. Warning: It gets worse before it gets perfect!
5. INSTANT TRAVEL - No more layovers in New York while you wonder if the plane is going to be safe from terrorists and mechanical failure. Wouldn't it be great to be where you want to be at the mere thought of it? Well...It's coming.
6. IMPASSIBILITY - Our body will be a body like that of the Risen Christ; material yet infinitely more sophisticated. Like Christ, walls or barriers will not bind us.
7. IMMORTAL - Even though we had a beginning at our birth, we will never die. We will have no end. For the bliss of Heaven to be bliss, it must by necessity last forever. If we knew that the bliss would end and did not have a sense that that it will go on for eternity, then it would cease to be bliss.
We must feel and deal with the pains and sorrows of this life. But never forget, with Jesus the best is yet to come and in fact has already begun.
32nd Sunday 11-11-01
"SHUT THAT LIGHT OFF!!" How many times have those words come from our mouth when our sibling abruptly wakes us up after coming home late from a date or a similar happening! When we have our night eyes, the light hurts our eyes. If we who call ourselves Christian are living lives filled with the Spirit of the Risen Christ, then we should be shining brightly with the light and love of God. However, this may make people who are comfortable living in the darkness exclaim "SHUT YOUR LIGHT OFF!!" When that happens we can either cower and enter into their darkness or say "GET USED TO THE LIGHT!!!" In the first reading from Maccabees, the seven brothers and their mother were devout Jews shining with the light of the Torah (the Jewish law or instruction) They made their persecutors so uncomfortable that they died torturous deaths with the hope and certitude of resurrection. We, in the New Testament have The Risen Lord, Jesus Christ himself as our hope of resurrection. However, to quote Steve Green in one of his classic songs "Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and you can barely get out of bed!" Is your faith strong enough that you would be able to die for Christ as many of the early Christian martyrs? Do you live daily in the hope of the resurrection, that at death the fullness life will be opened up to you? To quote an old Irish blessing with an addition to the end... "May you live until you die, and in dying may you live forever!" May the light and love of your life proclaim to a sleeping and dark world... "WAKE UP! RECEIVE THE LIGHT OF CHRIST!!!"
31st Sunday 11-4-01
We don't change and grow in order to be loved. Rather, we are loved so that we will change and grow. The sun and wind had a contest to see who could get a certain man to take off his coat. The wind blew with all of its might to attempt and blow the coat off the man. The harder it blew, the more tightly the man clasped the coat. Then the sun had its turn. It gently and lovingly began to shine its light and love on the man. The man began to wipe his brow and finally gave way to the power of the sun and took off his coat. The power of love is the only true power on earth. It is the power of God who is in essence...LOVE. In today's gospel we see the power of this love to transform. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector and hence was viewed very much as an enemy of the Jews, collecting money for the Romans. Jesus fixed his gaze upon him and let him know clearly that he desired to come to his home for the breaking of bread and fellowship. Thereupon, Zacchaeus was instantly touched and transformed to a deeply repentant man with the Lord declaring, "Today, salvation has come to this house."
30th Sunday 10-28-01
It is not smug, self-righteous, or presumptuous to have a deep confidence in the mercy and love of God, to know in faith that the Lord lives within you and that at the end of your life you will be brought safely home to heaven. Saint Teresa of Avila once said that the greatest consolation of her life is that when she dies, she will approach God with all hers sins, faults, and character defects and throw herself on the mercy of God. The center of our life isn't how great we are but how great God is and how incredible his mercy and love for his children. Father Francis Martin once said to a group of priests on retreat "If you look at your life and think it is pretty bad, it is probably worse than you can think... BUT THE SOLUTION IS GREATER THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE!" The Risen Jesus is our solution! The tax collector was wrong, but because he threw himself on the mercy of God, was made righteous. The Pharisee was right, but because he felt he could do it without God (notice it says that he prayed to himself thus making himself his own God) he left the temple un-forgiven.
Catholic Anyone? If you are interested in inquiry classes and the process of R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) please give Father David a call at the rectory at 712 364 2718. We will be meeting every other Sunday after mass for about 1-1/2 hours until baptisms and/or confirmations and first communion at the Easter Vigil.
29th Sunday 10-21-01
Prayer is defined as "The raising of the mind and heart to God." Saint Teresa of Avila, a doctor of the church and one of the recognized authorities on prayer says "prayer is an intimate conversation between close friends." Please don't make prayer more complicated than it is. You know how to speak to your best and closest friend. Now apply that to the living God who dwells within you. Good conversations to you! Pastor's request: Please put return addresses on mail sent to the rectory! (and anywhere else for that matter) Thank You!
28th Sunday 10-14-01
Do you ever have trouble sleeping? Try counting sheep! That comes from an old practice when "sheep" were considered blessings. So...count your blessings and have a great night sleep. Two men stood behind prison bars, one looked down and saw mud; the other looked up and saw stars. We are called by Saint Paul and the Gospel to dedicate ourselves to thankfulness. Not only is God honored by our prayer of thanksgiving but WE are blessed.
27th Sunday 10-07-01
The tight ropewalker was looking at the wheel barrel that he intended to push along a thin line that went over deadly falls. He yelled to the crowd "Do you believe that I can do this?" the crowd yelled, "Yes, we do believe!" The man then picked an observer from the crowd and asked "Sir, do YOU believe I can do this?" The man responded with a confident "YES!" The tight ropewalker then invited him "If you really believe this, then get into the wheel barrel!" Faith tells us that there is a God from whom everything comes.
Faith tells us that This God is alive and all-powerful. When faith moves into the heart it becomes TRUST. We not only believe that God has the power or ability to catch us when we fall, but also that God has the love and desire or WILL to catch us.
26th Sunday 9-30-01
God comforts us in our affliction and afflicts us in our comfort. God is pure love and mercy. Therefore, when we cry out to him in need, he gives us the help that we need and soothes our wounds. But when we think we don't need him and start living in the self-sufficient pride of Adam and Eve, he allows affliction to wake us up to a profound reality, that in him we live and move and have our being, that we are 100% dependent upon Him for everything, and that He IS God and we are not. God did not directly cause the 9-11 tragedy, but he is certainly about the business of bringing profound good out of it. We can trust God for his very best!
21st Sunday 8-26-01
The word DISCIPLE COMES FROM THE Latin "Discipulus" which means a student, pupil, or learner. As Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to the "disciplines of a disciple". Four main disciplines are: 1. Prayer- When we pray, we sit at the feet of the Lord to be instructed, healed, and empowered. We aslo take time to thank and praise him for all his blessings, the main blessing being simply being with our God. 2. Study- to know our faith is to love it. We should immerse ourselves into fruitful study of our faith, thereby setting our hearts on fire. 3. Evangelization- From prayer and study (#'s 1 and 2) it follows that we are equipped to share to good news of Jesus Christ with Fire and Love in our hearts and a width, breadth, and depth of information in our minds. 4. Service- God does not want us to be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good! Jesus himself said that he did not come to be served but to serve and give his life for the ransom of many. If we are truly filled with his Spirit, it follows that we will love and serve others as Christ did.
20th Sunday 8-19-01
Saint Augustine once said "How can we possibly lose the battle of this life if we have Jesus in the ring fighting for us and in the crowd cheering us on!" If the entire world loves us and we are not pleasing to God, then we have lost it all... If the entire world hates us, yet we are pleasing to God, then we have won everything! Jesus tells us in today's Gospel that he will cause division on the earth. Some will follow him and others will not. God, please give us the grace to be on your side! The recently deceased Father Ed Carpenter used to put it this way... " We really shouldn't be too concerned about what others think about us because really, they think about us very little. We should be more concerned about what God thinks of us because really, he thinks about us ALL THE TIME."
In Other news, Just a note on 9-12 religious Education: Last week I clearly stated that the education of our youth is a top priority for me. By 8th grade many of the basics should be taught. From 9th through 12th I, along with four other adults will be teaching some new topics and also deepening and applying to life the basics of our faith that have already been taught. Our sessions which will meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month (with the exception of the first few classes: see Religious Education News below for info) will consist of ice-breaker, teaching, songs & prayer, business meeting (for the extra-curricular activities such as service projects, trips, concerts and retreats etc...) and a bit of social time.
19th Sunday 8-12-01
"Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see". (Hebrews 11:1) If You had only 5 minute to tell a person why you are a Christian, what would you say? Let me propose this train of thought: 1. I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus Christ is God. 2. I believe that Jesus Christ is God because of his many miracles, signs and wonders but most of all because He Rose from the dead. 3. I believe that he rose from the dead because this faith has been handed on to us from the apostles and the primitive church through the scriptures. 4. I believe the words of the apostles because they had such a powerful experience of the Risen Christ that they were willing to lay down their lives many times in a violent manner such as being crucified upside-down, burned at the stake, being skinned alive, and other vicious martyrdoms. Our faith is directly in God but also we have faith in their faith, which was often proved by the shedding of blood. We often hear the line "Faith is a jump in the dark". It is really more of a "stroll in the twilight." There are good, historically-based reasons why we are followers of Jesus Christ.
18th Sunday 8-05-01
In the first homily I gave at Sacred Heart, I proposed two goals that I most want to happen to each of you. 1. To grow in holiness and deeper loving union with God and each other. 2. To one day be glowing saints forever in heaven. How do we accomplish these goals? One of the main ways is through the Eucharist. Normally, what we eat breaks down and becomes us. In the case of the Eucharist, it is the opposite: we break down and become more and more Jesus, thus growing in holiness. It is through the Eucharist that we come into communion with God and each other. (We are one body in Christ). As far as becoming a glowing saint: It is not so much a matter of getting into heaven as it is getting heaven into us. When we receive the Eucharist we are inviting Heaven, the Lord Himself to live within us.
17th Sunday 7-29-01
"No Prayer... No Power - Some Prayer... Some Power - A LOT OF PRAYER... A LOT OF POWER!"
These treasured words of wisdom were shared with me about 15 years ago by Father Pius, a very holy Trappist monk of 60 years. The power to live, love, forgive with the heart of Christ is directly proportionate to the quality and time we spend in prayer. Even Jesus himself would withdraw from the crowd to spend intimate time with his Father. Because we have been baptized, we too can call God our Father and seek him out daily for love, wisdom, forgiveness, and the blessing of our daily bread.
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION: Please note that I will be hearing confessions on every Saturday from 4:30 to 4:45 and every Sunday from 8:30 to 8:45 and immediately after mass. Please note that I will stop promptly at 15 minutes before every mass, as I need that time to focus on the liturgy. Celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation is also readily available by appointment (This would allow a little more time for spiritual counsel.)
DAILY MASS SHEDULE: Tuesday through Friday mass will be at the usual 7:30 am time. However, Monday mass will be held at 7:00 pm. This will give some of you who can not make it to morning mass at least one day of possibility. One catch to all of this is that Monday is my day off. As such, there will be some days that there will be no mass scheduled. If in doubt, please consult the bulletin. We will be having coffee and rolls after mass. Please come and introduce yourself to me!!
16th Sunday 7-22-01
I thank and praise God for the opportunity to be you new Pastor! When I came in February to present the parish mission, I stated clearly the meaning and purpose of our life and existence: Loving Union with God and each other here on earth and forever in Heaven. It is my deepest hope and goal as your new pastor that all of the parishioners of Sacred Heart become holy on earth and glowing Saints forever in Heaven. First and foremost, I want to build you up in true holiness. If that happens everything else that we need will fall into place. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His way of Holiness and all else will be yours as well." I can not thank you enough for your warm and loving reception!