Fr. Joe Bulletin Article, May 27 2018

 

Greetings in Christ!

May God bless our Memorial Day with a great gratitude for all those who died in service and defense of our country.  As Jesus said “No one has greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

We’ve got a big one this weekend: Trinity Sunday.  This is the day when we Catholics celebrate a special mass to honor the unity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  The catechism defines the Trinity as “The Central Mystery of our Faith”…the trinity permeates so much of our worship and our theology that, honestly, we often miss it!  But, right there at the beginning of our mass we say “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, which is also the words we use to end our mass.  We believe that the three persons of the Trinity are so perfect in their love for each other and self giving that they are one.  Catholic marriage is an attempt by two humans to imitate that mystery and such a wonderful thing is only possible through the power and working of the Trinity: this is why we recognize marriage as a Sacrament.  I could go on and on and if you are at any of the masses I celebrate this weekend, I very well may!

We thank God that He is a community of persons who created us and recognize that this fact has placed within us a hunger for community.  May God bless and strengthen our efforts to love Him and each other by imitating the beauty of the Trinity.

Monday is Memorial Day and this is a big day for our country.  As Catholics we recognize the value of honoring the dead and we pray for them as well.  Let’s use this great day as a reminder to be grateful for those who have died in service to our country and also as a time to remember how important it is to pray for the dead.

I think it important that we pray together that day and, weather permitting, I am going to pray mass at the Sacred Heart Cemetery on Memorial day at 8am.  If you would like to come pray with me, bring a lawn chair or something to sit on and we will pray mass together back by the crucifix in the back of the cemetery.  If it is raining at 7am, then count on us NOT praying mass at 8 and I invite you to pray a Rosary for our dead.

Even though Fr. Dan is not leaving until July 1st, we have had our farewell parties for him.  Please be sure and thank him for his generous heart and wonderful presence among us these last few years.  As I typed a couple weeks ago, I would have been lost without him…what a great man.  Starting in August, it will be Fr. Tomy and I covering St. Mary on the Lake and Sacred Heart.  Fr. Tomy will also be helping at St. Anthony on Sunday nights.

Finally, I was genuinely touched and blown away by the response from both parish families in regard to DSA.  I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.  I actually had a few of you ask if there was a way to set up a monthly automatic donation for DSA and it turns out the diocese is working on that.  For my part, I am pledging $20.00 as month in perpetuity to the DSA as soon as it become available to us.  If we all do $10, $15 or $20 a month, we won’t even need to do a DSA pitch anymore and we’ll actually get money back from the diocese each year.  Please pray about this and, if you feel called, look for further updates here in the bulletin.

Whew!  it feels like I typed a lot this morning!  We are so blessed to be alive at such interesting times.

I am so very grateful to God for the gift he gave me in serving you.  Let’s be Saints.

 

 

 

Fr. Joe Bulletin, May 13 2018

 

Greetings in Christ, all!

This blessed and holy Easter Season is drawing to a close: can you believe it?

I wanted to take this time to run the DSA by you for this year.  I had received some questions about why we are doing a DSA since we just did the big Witness to Hope Campaign and I thought this would be a good format to tackle it.  I understand people feeling frustrated or confused…especially at Sacred Heart, where we literally just finished the campaign.  I’ll ask us to think of two things when we think of DSA and then, at the end of this article, I’m going to ask everyone to consider a radical approach to our yearly DSA efforts.

The first thing is this: DSA is Diocesan Service Appeal and it is the way the diocese funds herself for the year.  They don’t have a parishes per se, they don’t have weekly collections, they are totally dependent on the yearly DSA collection to operate; they have no other means of funding.

The second thing is this: as you may remember from the handouts, the Witness to Hope campaign was done to accomplish two things: help parishes meet any extra needs they have and help the diocese shore up its numerous trusts and efforts to help people. At both parishes, we benefitted greatly from the Campaign, as the diocese basically footed the bill for our fundraisers.

So, here we are, as we are every year (except last year!) asking God’s People to chip in and help the diocese with its numerous offices and ministries.  At our Parish, we recognize that we are part of a bigger reality: we are a part of the diocese of Lansing and we need to do our part.

I want to pitch an idea that I hope will make it easy to hit our DSA goal every year and I am asking you with all my heart to consider this.  Every year, we meet our DSA because a couple people step up and write big checks.  For the most part, we do not have a large number of people participating and I’d love to change that.

Here is what I am getting to: if every family within our parish would commit to pledging $20.00 a month to the DSA, we would go over our goal and help our diocese.

In order for this to work, we would need everyone to participate…we would need everyone to commit to this and, if we did, we would easily make our goal.  To be clear, I hate asking for money.  I really do.  This time of year is one where my hunger to help us do our part clashes with the realization that money is tight and many people don’t like it when I ask.  But here is the thing: the diocese is not separate from us, it is a family we are part of and the diocese is counting on us to help them help us and all the other parishes in our diocese.

I am asking you to please challenge yourself and consider doing your part, especially if it is not your custom to participate in the DSA campaign.  Let’s not put all the burden on 5% of our parish family, but take it all on together.

I will be preaching on the DSA next weekend, May 19-20 and I will share some very specific examples of what your DSA dollars do…I think it will blow you away.

Please help me spread the word and this challenge…I would be so grateful.

God bless you…thank you for who you are and all you do.

I’m blessed.

 

Fr. Joe Bulletin Article, April 29 2018

Greetings in Christ, all!

What a beautiful spring we are experiencing, even though it has been a bit late to arrive…

We’ve got a couple big Saint days this week…we’re celebrating St. Joseph the Worker on Tuesday and The Feast of Sts. Phillip and St. James on Thursday.

St. John Paul II had a wonderful quote about St. Joseph:

“Saint Joseph is a man of great spirit.  He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God.  He listens in silence.  And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God.”

We don’t know a ton about St. Joseph, he doesn’t appear in any of the stories of Jesus as an adult and most historians believe he died when Jesus was younger.  He is the patron of a lot of things, the Universal Church, those who are dying, those who work with their hands and fathers.  He’s a great intercessor and I recommend we ask him for his prayers often.

Catholic Culture gives us some good summaries of Sts. Philip and James:

St. Philip

The Apostle Philip was one of Christ’s first disciples, called soon after Jesus baptism in the Jordan. The fourth Gospel gives the following detail: “The next day Jesus was about to leave for Galilee, and He found Philip. And Jesus said to him: Follow Me. Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him: We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus the Son of Joseph of Nazareth. And Nathanael said to him: Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  Philip said to him: Come and see” (John 1:43).  He is the patron saint of pastry chefs, people who make hats and Uruguay.

St. James the Less

St. James the Less, a brother of the Apostle Jude, was of Cana of Galilee. He is the author of one of the Catholic Epistles in the New Testament (appropriately names The Letter of James).  The New Testament tells us that the risen Jesus visited him (I Cor. 15:7) and that after the dispersion of the Apostles he was made Bishop of Jerusalem.  He was visited by St. Paul (Gal. 1:19). He spoke after Peter at the meeting of the Apostles (Acts 15:13). When he refused to deny the Divinity of Christ, the Jews cast him down from the terrace of the temple and clubbed him to death.

The Breviary contains a very moving description of his death. “When he was ninety-six years old and had governed the Church for thirty years in a most holy manner, the Jews sought to stone him, then took him to the pinnacle of the temple and cast him off headlong. As he lay there half dead, with legs broken by the fall, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed to God for the salvation of his enemies, saying: Lord, forgive them for they know not what they do! While the apostle was still praying, a fuller struck his head a mortal blow.”

His relics now rest next to those of St. Philip in the church of the Holy Apostles in Rome, and their names are mentioned in the first list in the Canon of the Mass.

He is the Patron of a lot of things: Apothecaries, druggists, dying people, fullers, hatmakers, hatters, milliners, pharmacists, Uruguay.

So…we’ve got some Saints to ask for prayers this week!  Praise God for their wonderful example and mighty prayers.  As I like to remind people, there are days open in the Church calendar for us to be Saints.

I’m about to head off with my Dad to the wedding and I ask for you to pray for his health and our travels.  We are expecting to have a wonderful time and I could use some rest and some time with him.  For those who didn’t notice, I didn’t end up being able to take that week after Easter off as so much had happened here so this really is timely for me.

I pray for you and thank God for you.

Fr. Joe Bulletin Article, April 22 2018

Greetings in Christ!

I want to take this opportunity to celebrate those preparing for their First Holy Communion in both our Parish families.  Our beautiful young people have spent many hours learning about the wonder of the Eucharist and God’s deep, unchanging love for them.  I pray that today and everyday, we thank God for the gift of the only Sacrament that we call “The Blessed Sacrament”.

Pray for our wonderful young people at St. Mary on the Lake, who will be receiving their First Communion today: Chloe, Quentin, Carson and Derick.

Pray for our wonderful young people here at Sacred Heart who will receive the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday, May 6:

Beckett Campbell, Landan Cramer, Justin Falater, Caden Glinski, Maci Godfrey, Leah Gramlich, Brooke Houser, Ethan Parker, Elizabeth Schulte, Wyatt Shaffer, Veronica Tinkey, Carter Vanlerberg, Rylee Wilson, Cali Wismer, Grace Wright.

Pray that God bless them with a sense of His closeness.

Pray for each of us here whom may have grown used to such a wonderous gift…pray that God remind us of how blessed we are to receive him today.

Pray for the parents of our First Communicants, that God will bless them for their “yes!” to him and for giving their children the most important and best gift they can.

Pray for our teachers, who sacrifice so much time and give so much of their talent to help our young people know the wonders of the Eucharist.

We are so very blessed to pray this day together!

As a note, I will be traveling with my Dad to a family wedding in Wisconsin next weekend.  I’m leaving the rectory on Thursday afternoon.  I’ll drop off Marius with my nephew, pick up Dad and we will drive early Friday morning to Wisconsin.  On Monday, on my way home, I get to meet with my favorite living historian who happens to live in  Madison: I’m so excited about this!  I’ll be back Thursday.

Please pray that Dad and I have safe travels and joyful times

I am so blessed to be your priest!

fjk

 

Fr. Joe Bulletin Artical, April 15 2018

Greetings in Christ, all!

May God bless our Easter Season and fill us with love, faith and hope in the resurrection.

Our Easter Season continues…it lasts a bit longer than Lent.  A good way to think of it is like Christmas: we celebrate it as a season, not a day or a week.  We can hold fast to our belief in Jesus resurrection even when everything around us seems to be falling apart.  Because of Christ’s resurrection, we know that, in the words of The Apostle, we are “more than conquerors”.

I think that a good exercise for each of us in this Easter Season is to take our belief and apply it to the difficulties we encounter.  When I hit hard times, I ask the Lord to help me do two things:

First, remember what he has gotten me through in the past.  It’s fairly amazing how hard we have to work to remember these times, but it is important to.  There were moments in your past where you wondered how you would ever get through it all, but here you are now, reading this article and God got you through.  Scripture puts it this way: “I will remember the kindness of the Lord, his great and glorious deeds”.  We need to remember these kindnesses of our God.

Second, we remember the resurrection.  We hold in our hearts our abject conviction that Jesus rose bodily from the dead and that because of that, heaven is a possibility for each of us.  The story of us ends well if we allow it and so there is nothing we will encounter that can take that away from us.

St. Therese tells us that, from the viewpoint of heaven, the entirety of our life on earth will seem like a night in “an inconvenient hotel”.  I like that.  Let’s pray that God bless us with the divine perspective.

I’m fired up for Bible Study this week! We are going to gather at St. Mary on the Lake Thursday after the 915 mass and begin a walk through the Beatitudes.  Its one of my favorite Bible Studies and I hope to see you there…

I thank God every day for the joy of serving as your priest.

 

Fr. Joe Bulletin, April 8 2018

Greetings in Christ!

I’m writing this at midnight on Easter Vigil night/Easter Morning…what a glorious experience!

I have so much to say, but I don’t think any words I can muster will catch my gratitude.  Nonetheless, I’ll try…..

I’m grateful.  I’m grateful beyond belief for all of you.  I was absolutely blown away by the wonder of our two Parish Families working together to make our Holy Week the best one ever.  To be honest, I prepared for some complaining when we announced that the two parishes would be celebrating Holy Week together.  I know it’s different and I know it made it a bit more inconvenient for some but I heard nothing but positive and supportive comments.

The end result was stunning.

I don’t know if you can tell, but there are hours and hours of work that begin months before Holy Week.  The celebrations are very complex, very intricate and there are a lot of planning meetings, lots of practices and an incredible amount of work.  On Holy Week alone, there are many hours of heavy duty set up and lots of running around.  None of this could have happened without many sacrificial, loving and hard working hands.  It all came together so nicely!

The music was incredible, our servers were faithful and on time, our lectors obviously practiced and on and on and on.  The only weak point of the Holy Week was the priest.   🙂

For me, my favorite thing was seeing St. Mary on the Lake and Sacred Heart people working hand in hand together; joyfully giving their all no matter where the celebration was held.

If you worked on these celebrations, I am so very grateful.  Whatever you did, if I did not personally thank you, if God’s People didn’t thank you, know this: our Heavenly Father saw you and honors your hard work and sacrifice.  Unlike us goofy, sinful humans, He never forgets those who serve Him!

A lot of people told me that the Tenebrae celebration was new to them and something we should do every year: I agree.  I was blown away by it.  Deacon John and Janet McGrath did absolutely incredible work in putting this together and frankly, during the whole week they were in constant motion serving us…Blessed be God!

Okay.  I’m way to excited and its showing with my multitude of exclamation points, so I’ll wrap this up and get to bed, ready to rise for morning masses.

As I will mention in the Easter Masses, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to check out the Life in the Spirit seminars we are offering at the parish.  These are wonderful sessions that are designed to teach any who come how to encounter and work with the Holy Spirit in everyday life. It is through the Life in the Spirit program that my life was transformed and I’m so happy its here now.  Please check out the bulletin for details.

Bible Study this week at Sacred Heart: we’ll gather Wednesday at 6pm in the Church Hall and cover the   beatitudes or continue our introduction to the Gospel of John.

My heart is filled with gratitude for the blessing of being your priest.

Happy, Holy and Joyful Easter Season to all of you.

 

Fr. Joe Bulletin Article March 11, 2018

Greetings in Christ!

I’m writing this on March 3rd, before I head out for a week off.  Because of that, I obviously won’t be commenting on anything current.  Instead, its my hope to use this and the next article to hype our upcoming Triduum Feasts at Sacred Heart and St. Mary.  Last week, I posted on Holy Thursday and, this week, I want to walk us through Good Friday Service.

A couple notes before I walk us through the service…

Please welcome Fr. John Quinn, who will speak on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach, which was founded to create a meaningful link between parishes in America and the Church overseas in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central and South America.  Please be generous in your response to Father’s appeal.

Please join us in or Lenten Holy Hour of Adoration on Wednesday, March 21st at 7:00 pm.  We will begin the Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration and Procession, followed by a homily and time for us to silently reflect on Jesus’ presence in our lives.

Our Good Friday Service for both our Parish Families will be at 3pm at Sacred Heart.

All the events of Good Friday are commemorated in the Stations of the Cross, the devotion we usually pray during Lent and especially on Good Friday.  Another devotional, the Acts of Reparation, may also be prayed.

Good Friday is a day of fasting within the Church. Traditionally, there is no Mass and no celebration of the Eucharist on Good Friday.  A service will still be prayed with communion which will come from hosts consecrated on Holy Thursday. Baptism, penance, and anointing of the sick may be performed, but only in unusual circumstances. Church bells are silent and the altars are left bare.

Good Friday is the day where we place our Spiritual Focus on the suffering and death of Jesus.  We recognize that our sins come with a terrible price and that Jesus paid that price willingly out of love for us.  We pray that this day compels us to sorrow for our sins and a recognition of the love that drove Christ to such an incredible act.  Our celebration this day is not a mass, it’s called our Good Friday Service or Service of the Passion of the Lord and we will start it at 3pm, in honor of the moment in time that Jesus died.

This service begins in silence, with the clergy laying prostrate before the cross.  It continues with a reading from Scriptures and perhaps a homily that focuses on the role of suffering and loss in our life, as well as that of sin.   We then will pray a special set of prayers, asking God’s blessings and mercy on all areas of our world and Church.   Next, we adore the cross with a sign of reverence: some will kiss the cross, some will embrace it.  The key is for us to show our gratitude for the means that God saved us.

Finally, we will bring the Blessed Sacrament out from the place of reservation and all who are not prohibited can come forward to receive.  The service ends in silence.

This is a prayerful and amazing service and I cannot encourage us strongly enough to make it our highest priority: thanking Jesus for what He’s done for us and walking through His passion with him.

This year, we will also experience “Tenebrae”, which will be held at 8pm at St. Mary on the Lake on Good Friday.  Tenebrae is a church service observed during the final part of Holy Week commemorating the sufferings and death of Christ.

May Jesus bless our Lenten efforts!

 

Fr. Joe Homily, March 3, 2018

If you would like to read along as you listen, please refer to the words below.

(Honestly, its my notes, so there may be some errors in typing or whatnot. I hope you find it helpful.)

 

 

 

We’re going to start with a distinction between anger and wrath.

Anger is morally neutral. It isn’t good or bad. Its an emotional reaction that occurs when our expectations are not met.

Anger becomes a sin when we obsess over it, when we direct it at a person who does not deserve it, when we hold it, when we crave punishment or violence for the person who we perceive as the problem. Ultimately, wrath or sinful anger is a rejection of love. A rejection of mercy.

We don’t generally use the word “wrath” in this way, so I’m going to stick with the phrase “sinful anger”.

So, how do I tell the difference between anger and sinful anger?

The easiest way is in retrospect, which often isn’t helpful right away. Sinful anger can be such a strong force that you and I have to engage a process to beat it, not a moment. Do not get discouraged or give up in fighting sinful anger; engage the process knowing that at first, you’ll see it after the anger but you’ll get closer each time to the explosion that caused the problem and, eventually, you’ll be able to possibly see anger coming before you blow up.

With that in mind, the process for letting God heal our anger looks like this:

First, when we realize we were angry, are angry or are about to get angry, we need to ask ourselves two questions:

1. What was my expectation that was not met?
2. Was this expectation just and/or spoken?

This process does a couple things: it allows us to see the root of our anger and honestly, sometimes that is enough to tame the beast of anger. There are times I have moved from anger to laughter as I realized that my expectation was silly.

The virtue that God gives us to combat sinful anger is mercy. Why mercy?

Because sometimes, we’ll realize that our anger was totally unjust. We had a ridiculous expectation. We had a realistic expectation, but we didn’t speak it, whatever it may be, the key is this: sometimes, we will realize our expectation was unjust and we’ll feel shame and those are the moments when we need to remember to have mercy on ourselves. To put it bluntly, it seems to me that we shouldn’t be surprised that we sin, we should be surprised that sometimes we don’t. Ask God’s forgiveness for your sinful anger, ask forgiveness of anyone whom you offended or hurt in that sinful anger, receive mercy and move on.

Sometimes our anger is just. Sometimes, we’ll realize that we had a just expectation, that we spoke it and somehow in the process we got run over. That’s when we need mercy for others. That’s when we need to remember how often people forgive us, how often people put up with us. That’s when we remember the crushing weight of the innumerable obligations we all feel and we simply pray for the person instead of raging. We give them the gift that God gives us: mercy.

And God’s mercy is an important thing to remember. Jesus tells us that the measure with which we measure others will be measured back to us…that should absolutely terrify and challenge us to be as gentle, as merciful and as patient as we can be. If we can’t be merciful out of love for God, then we can be merciful out of naked self interest.

Lord Jesus, in your name, I renounce sinful anger.
Lord Jesus, in your name, I embrace mercy.
May God bless our efforts.

Fr. Joe Homily, February 25, 2018

We continue the series on the 7 deadly sins.   This week we look at Envy.  Envy is a sad or resentful craving for others traits, abilities or status.  Envy is a form of sorrow or anger at the good fortune of others.   Envy is a sneaky, sneaky sin.  It’s more present in us than we think.

It’s time to clean out your stank.   Look for ways in our life how blessed we are.  Think of what you have and how blessed you are to have them!

God Bless!

Fr. Joe Bulletin Article February 25, 2018

Greetings in Christ!
I am so excited for this Lenten Season.  I cannot encourage us strongly enough to keep pushing through and giving all we have in acts of Prayer, Fasting (or sacrifice) and Charity.  This is a time for us to go all out in our internal war with the flesh: rejecting sin and embracing virtue.
Each week, I hope to have my homilies posted so that you can catch any of the series you may have missed on the 7 deadly sins and the virtues to combat those sins.
Remember: it is never too late to start or restart lent…
A reminder that this Saturday, we will have our penance service for both of our Parish Families.  We will gather at St. Mary on the Lake at 10:00am and move pretty quickly into individual reconciliation.  We’ll have handouts there to help you if you need and lots of priests.  PLEASE don’t pass up this wonderful opportunity to meet our Lenten Obligation and give our sins to the Lord.  We’ll receive His mercy, joy and strength in return: a darn good deal. 🙂
I had some wonderful questions from some folks who felt challenged by the homily on greed and gluttony and, as a result, wanted to sort through their stuff and see what they could part with that other people may need.  I’m so blessed that we have taken up that challenge!  If you find yourself with clothing or other such things that you’d like to pass on to the poor, please make sure and do so. If you are out of options on that front, let me know and I’ll try to organize some way to get them where they will do the most good.
May God bless, strengthen and inform our efforts to be holy.  I’m so blessed to be your priest.