Deacon’s Corner, August 19 2018

Five times in the Gospel today the word “eats” is used.  Jesus makes it very clear that the “bread from heaven”, himself, is to be consumed.  Today, we know Jesus was talking about Himself in the Eucharist – His Precious Body and Blood that we receive through the consecrated bread and wine at Mass.   We call this the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist.  We can also experience Jesus in the Eucharist through Eucharistic Adoration.

Eucharistic Adoration has been a rich Catholic tradition since about the 4th Century when converts to the faith were invited to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 8 days.  Monks also used Eucharistic Adoration to spend time with Jesus outside of the Mass.  By the 11th Century, Adoration began to flourish as the Church developed the formal Rite for Eucharistic Adoration and encouraged people to visit our Lord often during the week.  In the 19th Century, lay women and men founded their own societies dedicated to perpetual adoration – around the clock – for days.  Many churches now have perpetual adoration chapels where this practice continues even through today.

Eucharistic Adoration is private time with our Lord as He is present in the Blessed Sacrament placed in a Monstrance on the Altar.  Spending this quiet time before Him is like spending time before our Living God, giving Him the keys to our heart.  We turn off our cell phone, genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, kneel in the pew, and show God our respect being present with Him.

Just as we all pray differently, we may spend time in Adoration differently.  We can sit there and just relax, knit, pray, or read something spiritually uplifting.  Sometimes, I work on a homily or Deacon’s Corner that’s stuck in my mind.   Other times I ponder questions like:  How is God working in my life?, Who does He want me to reach out to?, What is He calling me to do?, How can I be more open to His voice?, and How can I be more faithful?  Or, I may just sit and rest enjoying ‘safe harbor’ from a hectic day.  So restful once, that I actually fell asleep!  No matter how we spend our time, sitting at His feet escaping the busyness and distractions of life allows God to lead us.

I remember as a child when people attending Eucharistic Adoration would pack the church.  Now, we are lucky to have a handful of people show up.  I wonder what would it take to fill the church up again?  If you would like to give it a try, Eucharistic Adoration takes place every Tuesday at Sacred Heart (4:45pm to 5:45pm), and St. Mary on the Lake on the first Thursday of each month (3:30pm to 5pm).  Eucharistic Adoration ends with prayer and a solemn blessing, called Benediction – where the priest or deacon uses the Blessed Sacrament to bless the people.  What better way to end your day than that?

Deacon John

 

 

Flooring Project Update

 

 

Flooring Project Update

The project continues to move along on schedule and within budget.   By the time you read this, the carpet should have been delivered with installation to begin this week.  The sacristy wood floors have been refinished and restoring the Sanctuary terrazzo/marble flooring is nearing completion.  Also this week, window panels are being installed in the sacristy doors and confessional to comply with diocesan VIRTUS program requirements for Protecting God’s Children.   If everything continues to go well, we should be back in our beautiful church for Masses on Labor Day Weekend.  Many thanks to all of the volunteers working behind the scenes taking care of the little details to make the project run smooth.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask me.  Have a Blessed Week!  Deacon John

 

 

Deacon Corner, August 12 2018

Then another sign appeared in the sky, it was a huge red dragon…..Its tail swept away a third of the stars…and hurled them down to the earth.  Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child… (Revelations 12:3-4).

The Book of Revelations can seem scary with Hollywood using it to produce apocalyptic movies where demons and intergalactic forces threaten to wipe out human kind.  But if we lived as Christians in the late 1st Century when Revelations was written, we knew the author meant anything but that case.  Their world was in turmoil.  Over a million people were killed in a bloody, Jewish revolt ending with Roman Legions destroying the Holy Temple and much of Jerusalem.   The Apostles were imprisoned, stoned, beheaded, crucified, or never heard from again. Christians were hunted down and persecuted.  Many were lax about their faith or led astray by false teachers and prophets. But even with all that going on, we would hear a different message from Revelations.  Not a message of fear and dismay, but one hope where good triumphs over evil.

We would know this Scripture passage as a symbolic play on Greek Mythology and really about the birth of Jesus and the promise God made – that the righteous will enjoy happiness and the unrighteous will be destroyed.  And at the center of this drama going on in the skies we would see a very special lady.  A lady unafraid.  A lady we knew as the mother of Jesus.

This Wednesday, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, Mary passing from this world into heaven. As Catholics, we honor Mary as we would a great leader.  We don’t worship or adore her.  We don’t pray to her as a substitute for Jesus.  We hold Mary in the highest esteem as the chosen mother of the Son of God.  We see Mary as a very extraordinary lady – gentle, quiet, and submissive to God.  But knowing she had to be strong, determined, brave, trusting, and very courageous.  Mary saw evil work against her Son.  She watched people plot against him and his own town folk reject him.  Her heart broke as her Son was accused, beaten, and crucified.  But Mary knew God had a plan, even though she may not have known what that plan was.

We honor Mary by remembering her life of joy and heartbreak was not in vain.  We honor Mary by teaching our children what she taught us – the goodness of God, His promise of hope, and how to live a faithful life.  When we can do that, then Satan cannot win and God will reign.

God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen… A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun…and on her head a crown of twelve stars… She gave birth to a son…destined to rule all the nations…(Revelations 11:19, 12:1,5).   Holy Mary, Mother of God – pray for us.

Deacon John

 

Deacon Corner, August 5 2018

In the 5th Century B.C., the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon only to find their temple destroyed and the city’s walls in ruin. They immediately rebuilt the temple, but were then faced with the challenge of no fortified wall around the city for protection.   They were defenseless against enemies, wild animals, weather, and anyone who could easily enter and cause great trouble for the people.  But, there is more to this story than just the safety and protection.

According to a report received by Nehemiah, the King’s cup bearer, the people of Jerusalem were shamed.  A city with broken walls meant it was a city of defeated people.  They felt both unsafe and humiliated at living in a destroyed city (Nehemiah 2:17).  So, God called Nehemiah to lead the people not just in rebuilding the walls, but to a much bigger project – restore Jerusalem after laying in ruins for 150 years.  Nehemiah told the Jewish leaders, “Rebuilding the walls would show God’s blessing on His people again (Nehemiah 1:9).

Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was an important sign to the enemies of Israel.  Doing so would show God’s blessing again and let them know that God was with His people (Nehemiah 1:9, 2:20).  As Nehemiah led the work to rebuild, the people experienced mockery, attacks, distractions, and temptation to sin.  Even so, God equipped them to stand firm and be determined in their efforts.  The result was completing a daunting task in just 52 days (Nehemiah 2:3-5,12; 4:3,8; 6:10-12.)

Sometimes, we face challenges that leave our life seemingly in ruins.  With our temple destroyed and our “protective walls” torn down – we can feel afraid, humiliated, and defeated.  Even so, it’s important to remember that God has a plan for our life, and to overcome these feelings requires much more than personal desire or reaching a goal.  In the midst of the ruins, Nehemiah was driven by an understanding that God appointed him to the task of rebuilding.  When God charges us with a task – whether to repair a relationship, refocus our life, or share our blessings with others – He gives us whatever skills and strength are needed to continue doing what He’s asked no matter what challenges come our way.

What kinds of challenges do you face this week? How has God equipped you to overcome them?   May we pray for the grace to persevere through our challenges and finish the tasks God gives us.  May our labors always bring Him glory.

Deacon John

 

Deacon Corner Bulletin, July 29 2018

The past 2 weeks we’ve been discussing the 8th Commandment which says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” It’s all about speaking the truth.  But, sometimes speaking the truth can be hurtful.

Our Catechism teaches witnessing to the Gospel “is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known (CCC 2472).”  But witnessing the truth of the Gospel can be very difficult, even dangerous.  Many Christians have chosen martyrdom rather than reject the truth of God.  But what if speaking the truth can harm others?  What if giving my truthful opinion leads to hurt feelings, animosity, or break up a relationship?

Jesus showed us the pursuit of truth must include the virtue of charity.  That means speaking the truth in a humble and loving manner.  St Paul told the Christians in Ephesus to speak “the truth in love”- with sincerity, compassion, and understanding (Ephesians 4:15.)  We witness the truth in sincerity and love in 3 key ways:  by taking up a matter with someone privately with great delicacy and diplomacy; by simply acting in a manner consistent with our intentions (don’t say one thing and do another); and acting with sincerity and humility (be aware of our own faults when pointing out the faults of others.)  No matter how we speak the truth, we must make sure our own pride does not make us eager to point out the faults of others.

Our Catechism says charity and respect for truth should dictate our response to every request for information or communication.  That includes those times when we must not divulge the truth – like keeping a secret to protect someone or being held to a professional oath of confidentiality.   The Catechism says it’s OK to withhold the truth, or use discrete and evasive language to avoid it especially when the good and safety of others, respecting privacy, and the common good are involved.  No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who has evil intentions if the truth is known or has no right to know it (CCC 2489.)  St Raymond said in situations like this, if our conscience justifies lying to protect someone, then we may do so.  St. Augustine wrote that if our mind justifies a lie is the best answer to give in these situations, then we are not in violation of the 8th Commandment.  Of course, both would say for a very good reason.  An obvious good reason would be lying to the Nazi SS squads while hiding Jewish families in the attic during WW2.

We must always remember the Truth is Sacred; and Christ, who is the truth, expects us to testify to him by the truthfulness of our lives, our actions, and our words.  We do this by being His humble, sincere, faithful followers; always showing mercy and compassion for others.  In short, we do what Jesus would do; and treat others the way we would like to be treated.

Deacon John

Adapted from an “Introduction to Catholicism” by Father James Socias

 

Deacon’s Corner, July 22 2018

Last week, we talked about how gossip and rumors violate the Eighth Commandment.  They distort the truth about people which is hurtful and destroys that person’s dignity.  This week, let’s take a look at the virtue of “truth”.

The Eighth Commandment says “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  It obligates everyone to seek the truth.  The virtue of truth is all about sincerity and can be expressed in three ways: sincerity in ourselves, sincerity with others, and sincerity with God.  Sincerity with ourselves requires we acknowledge the truth about our own conduct, intentions, thoughts, feelings, and never ignore or fear the truth.  Sincerity with others is the ability to speak the truth so others can trust us.   If we lack integrity, our word is not reliable.  Sincerity with God means God can neither deceive nor be deceived.  It requires us to humbly examine our conscience and be honest with Him when confessing our sins.  The virtue of the truth is vital to our relationships with others.  Whether those relationships are among two people, members of families, within our community, or span across society; truth in speech, writing, or every form of communication and media, truth is what makes trusting human interaction possible.

Miscommunication – especially in the case of a direct lie, evasive language, gossip and rumors, or intentional withholding of the truth – creates mistrust within relationships and sows the seeds of scorn and hatred.  True peace, whether between individuals or nations, cannot be reached in an environment of distrust and falsehood.  The Eighth Commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth.  Offenses against the truth, either by words or actions, show others our refusal to commit ourselves to moral decency.  They are fundamental infidelities to God which undermine our relationship with Him – leading us into sin (CCC 2464-2469).

St Francis de Sales said, “Let your words be kindly, frank, sincere, straightforward, and true…remembering…it is never allowable to oppose the truth.  Make it your rule never knowingly to say what is not strictly true, either accusing or excusing, always remembering that God is the God of truth.”  

God is the source of all truth.  His law is truth.  May we pray this week for the grace to live the truth.

Deacon John

Adapted from The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2464-2469); and “Introduction to Catholicism” 

 

Deacon Corner Bulletin, July 15 2018

Gossip or Rumor?  What’s the difference?  Is there a difference?  The Oxford Dictionary defines “gossip” as “a casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”   A “rumor” is defined as “a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.”  So, what’s the difference?  Gossip is talking about someone with other people.  A rumor is spreading specific information about someone.  Both have been around forever, but that doesn’t mean they are acceptable behavior for God.  That’s why He gave us the Eighth Commandment which says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”   The Eighth Commandment requires we speak the truth and forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others.

One of the biggest things that separates us from other animals is we are made in the image and likeness of God with the ability to ask questions and seek knowledge.  As children of God, we are called through our Baptism to pursue the truth and share it with others.   So, we are bound to a moral obligation to seek the truth.  Spreading gossip or rumors, especially with the intent to harm someone, defames that person’s dignity with an unjust attack against their reputation.  Gossip and rumors are called Calumny which is a doubly malicious sin because it offends both truth and justice.

What is the difference between gossip and rumors?  Does it really matter?  St James warned early Christians to guard against the great evil of speaking falsely and warned of its serious consequences.  He wrote “The tongue is an unrighteous world among our neighbors, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.  For every type of beast and bird, reptile and sea creature, can be tamed…by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. (James 3:5-8).” Gossip and rumors leads to hurting other people.  Both can lead us into sin, especially when we influence others with our negative thoughts to sin.

As disciples of Christ, we are called to seek the truth and allow it to govern our lives through His grace.  That means we are obliged to speak honestly to honor the good names of others to uphold their dignity and protect our own dignity.  Truth is sacred, and Christ, who is the truth, expects us to testify to Him everyday by the truthfulness of our lives, our actions, and our words.

Deacon John

Adapted from “Introduction to Catholicism” by Father James Socias

 

Deacon’s Corner, June 17 2018

Why do we go to Mass?  Essentially, we go to grow spiritually and worship as a faith community.  At Mass, we profess what we believe and bear witness to Christ by openly celebrating our Catholic faith before the world.  We go to Mass to share in the wonder of God’s love and be transformed by the Spirit of holiness.  When that happens, we go forward to live our faith and share with others that there is something greater in life to come.

Our Mass has not changed much over the past 2000 years.  In 155 AD, St Justin Martyr wrote a letter to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to explain and defend how the Early Christians worshiped.  St. Justin wrote: “On the day we call the day of the sun [Sunday], all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.  The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.  When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.  Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves…and for others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.  When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.  Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.  He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks [in Greek: eucharistian] that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.   When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying “Amen.”  When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the eucharisted bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent.”  Ten years after he wrote this, Marcus Aurelius had St. Justin condemned, scourged, & beheaded for not worshiping Roman gods.  St Justin Martyr loved the Mass and gave his life for it.

In his book, Rediscovering Catholicism, Matthew Kelly writes Catholics have lost their sense of wonder about the Mass.  He asks are we “so unaware of the mystery and the privilege [of the Mass] that we can hardly wait to get out of church?”  He says if we truly believe Christ is present in the Eucharist, then the power unleashed within us through receiving the Eucharist is “unfathomable.”  But we cannot experience this feeling if we simply go to Mass because it’s our Sunday “obligation” or someone told us to.  The only way to grow spiritually at Mass and enjoy the camaraderie of our faith community is to rediscover the same wonder those First Christians experienced celebrating Jesus’ presence among them when He said, ‘do this in memory of me’.

Deacon John

 

FLOORING PROJECT UPDATE

 

Good news!  Last Friday, we received final approval of our flooring project from the diocese which now allows construction to move  forward.  After the 11am Mass on July 1, the main level of the church will be closed for about 2 months.  During the week of July 2, the Parish Hall will be converted into a liturgical worship space for daily and weekend Masses, Adoration, Confessions, and a dignified environment to come in and pray during the day.  The contractor will  mobilize on July 9 to begin pew and carpet removal.   The project is on schedule and budget for completion by September 15, hopefully by Labor Day if everything goes according to plan.  As required by the Witness-to-Hope project process, oversight of the project now falls under the parish   Finance Council.  This means Finance Council    approval is needed for any major decisions or scope changes regarding the project. Progress updates will be provided on a regular basis in the bulletin and our website.  More to follow as the final details are worked out.   Deacon John

 

Deacon Corner, June 10 2018

In the next few weeks, over 3.6 million high school students will walk across the stages in America to collect their diplomas.   Somewhere among the Baccalaureates, open houses, and commencements is the reality that change is coming for these young men and women.  Whether they continue their education, serve in the military, or join the workforce; they will encounter new people of all backgrounds, religions, lifestyles, beliefs and worldviews.  No matter the role we play in their lives, we can pray for them as they begin this new journey.  So, let us pray…..

¨ Pray for wisdom and guidance so they know God gives them a godly purpose.  Pray they will trust in the Lord.  Pray they will seek to know and do the will of God and follow Christ fully (Proverbs 3:5–6).

¨ Pray they develop good and godly habits.  Pray they make good choices.  Pray they connect with a local parish and be involved in serving Christ on and off their campus or workplace.  Pray for friends who will encourage and support them; friends who will lift them up and not drag them down.  Pray they are not deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

¨ Pray for their finances.  Pray they will be responsible for credit cards, student loans, travel, clothing, entertainment and personal expenses.  Pray God will provide for their needs. Pray they will spend wisely and give generously.

¨ Pray they remember what they learned at home and in church as they face new temptations, hardships, and dangers.  Pray for their safety.  Pray they will be witnesses for Christ in the way they speak, serve, love, and live.  Pray they be an example in faith, purity and devotion to God. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

¨ Pray for their teachers, professors, counselors, and bosses.  Pray these people will build them in strength of character and ability to think and act in a way that pleases God.

¨ Pray for their parents and siblings. Pray family ties remain strong and that these young adults will continue to honor their parents and love their family.

¨ Pray for their witness.  Pray our graduates become influencers, leaders and missionaries on campuses, in the market place, and workplaces. Pray they receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be bold, confident and eager witnesses sharing their faith wherever they go.  (Acts 1:8).

Today’s graduates are the next generation of workers and leaders, spouses and parents, to navigate an unbelieving world.  May we pray for them to be up to this challenge and never forget their Baptism and Christian walk.  May they grow in the peace and love of Christ to become the person God wants them to be.

Adapted from a June 3, 2018 Fox News commentary by Prof. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church and the host of PowerPoint Ministries.