Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 26 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Pope Francis has named the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (this weekend) the Sunday of the Word of God.  This weekend, then, I want to highlight the practice of Lectio Divina, a way of prayerfully reading and entering into Scripture.  Sometimes we can be a bit daunted by the Bible; the key is just to start.  I remember someone once saying that Scripture tells our story—the faces just change. This is when the Scriptures really come alive: when we realize they are God’s word to us and for us.  In them we encounter our story.

Here is a short description of Lectio Divina from a larger article that can be found at this link: https://www.aquinasandmore.com/blog/how-to-do-lectio-divina-catholic-meditative-prayer/.

Lectio – The first step is reverential listening: listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. You are listening for the voice of God speaking to you intimately. In lectio, read slowly and attentively, listening for a word or phrase that is God’s Word for you.

Meditatio – Once you have heard your word or phrase that is speaking to you in a personal way, take it in and ponder it. Memorize it, and while gently repeating it to yourself, allow it to interact with your thoughts, your memories, your hopes, your desires. This is the second step or stage. In this step, allow God’s Word to become His Word for you, a word that touches you and affects you at your deepest levels

Oratio – The third step is the prayer step…prayer understood both as dialogue with God and as consecration, or prayer as an offering to God of parts of ourselves that we have not previously believed God wants. Allow the word that we have taken in and on which we are meditating to touch and change your deepest self. Just as a priest consecrates the bread and wine at the Eucharist, God invites us to hold up our most difficult and pain-filled experiences to Him, and to gently recite over them the healing word or phrase He has given us in our lectio and meditatio. Finally, allow yourself to be touched and changed by the Word of God.

Contemplatio – In the final step, simply rest in the presence of God and accept His transforming embrace. No one who has ever been in love needs to be reminded that there are moments in loving relationships when words are not even necessary. It is the same in our relationship with God. Contemplation during the Lectio Divina is a wordless, quiet rest in the presence of God. In silence, let go of your own words and simply enjoy the experience of being in the presence of God.

This prayerful reading of Scripture is one of my favorite ways to pray. This is the foundation of my homily preparation as I read through the Scriptures for each Sunday and ask the Lord what He wants me to preach about.

I hope this helps each of us enter more deeply into God’s Word!

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 19 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

 

It was good to get a little time away this past week for some vacation time with family.  It is good to be back, though. For this month that Fr. Tomy is gone for vacation, I will be covering the weekend Masses.  I look forward to being able to see everyone every weekend!

As pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on the Lake, my primary responsibility is to help you grow as disciples of Jesus and to equip you to go and make disciples of others.  I am excited to share with you that our parish is going to participate in a parish survey conducted by the Catholic Leadership Institute.  The Disciple Maker Index (DMI) Survey allows parishioners to reflect on their own spiritual growth and discipleship and identify the ways in which the parish effectively supports that growth.

The web-based survey will be accessible online and in paper form from February 8th-March 1st.  If you have an opportunity, please stress the importance of responding to this survey to your ministry members.

At the completion of the survey, our parish will receive an aggregate report of the results.  We will NOT have access to individual survey responses.  This survey offers us a unique and important opportunity to learn about issues of importance to families in a confidential and professional way.  We will use these results to: 1) look at opportunities to support parishioner growth in discipleship, and 2) create goals and action plans to achieve that growth.

Soon, you will receive a communication from us inviting you to participate in the survey.  If parishioners ask you about the survey, please:

  • Remind them about the dates the survey will be live: February 8th-March 1st.
  • Encourage them to respond as soon as they can. We want to hear from as many people as possible.
  • Assure them that the parish leadership will receive a summary report of the aggregate data and that no one at our parish will have access to individual survey responses.

Thank you in advance for the encouragement that you will provide to the community when we solicit feedback.  Meanwhile, if you have any questions or ideas about good ways to boost the response rate, please let me know.

Thank you for your help with this!

 Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 12, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

A big thank you to Phil Marry, Matt Shaffer, and Steve Wright for getting our bell working again!  It is a blessing to have parishioners who take such good care of our beautiful church.

Fr. Tomy will be taking some time for vacation and will be gone Jan 17th-Feb 16th.  Those Mondays while he is gone, we will not have Monday morning Mass at Sacred Heart: Jan 20th and 27th, Feb 3rd and 10th.  Fr. Tomy is still working on getting his green card, so he isn’t able to go home quite yet.  Hopefully by this coming fall he will have his green card and will be able to see his family after a few years of being away.  I will be taking some vacation time this week (14th-16th) to go to a farm show with my twin brother and my folks.

I had a wonderful time this last Sunday baptizing my newest nephew, Owen.  What made it especially exciting was the fact that there were 12 kids there as well—11 years old and under.  They outnumbered the adults and so had a great time running all over the place during the baptism! I imagine that this is probably how many scenes unfolded from the Gospel whenever there were crowds that gathered to hear Jesus.  He talked with the gathered adults and parents while kids ran all over the place in the background.  The life of grace often looks much more like that than the peaceful serenity we see in holy cards!

There are two upcoming events that I want to put on your radar.

Accept the Challenge 2020: Diocese of Lansing Catholic Men’s Conference
For years, this conference has been helping Catholic men courageously live a Christ-centered life in today’s world. That’s the most important challenge of our lives. Come and be equipped to accept the challenge!

When: February 22, 2020

Where: Oosterbaan Field House, 1202 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Time: 9 AM – 6 PM

What to Expect:

* Motivating messages from Fr. Larry Richards, Bart Schuchts, Dan DeMatte

* Adoration and confessions
* A mouth-watering pig roast BBQ lunch from Stick-A-Pig-In-It
* Excellent music
* Mass with Bishop Boyea (12 PM)
Registrations are now open. For more information or to purchase your tickets, visit

http://www.acceptthechallenge.org

 

Mission Retreat: Wixom, MI.

This is a retreat for 8-12th graders at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Wixom.  It is a powerful retreat in which God speaks His love to all who come.  This retreat does a great job providing space for those who come to encounter the Lord and can be healing and transformative.

When: March 6-8, 2020

Where: St. Catherine of Siena, Wixom, MI

Cost: $85

Registration details will be coming soon.  I would love to bring a bunch of our teens to this retreat.

 

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 5 2020

 

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Happy New Year!  ’Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions: things we want to take on that can help transform our lives.  People can wonder what some Catholic New Year’s Resolutions might be.  To help with that, I borrowed a few from an article written by a young woman named Meg Hunter-Kilmer.  She grew up Catholic but stopped practicing her faith until she had a powerful encounter with Jesus.  If you want to know more of her story, go here: https://www.piercedhands.com/

  1. Read the Bible. Attached to here is a link to a plan to help you read the entire Bible in one year.  This plan has you reading different parts of the Bible at the same time so you will not be simply starting from the front until you reach the back.  https://www.piercedhands.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/One-Year-Bible-Chronological.pdf  We will be picking up our own Bible Study in the second week of January and we will be going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

  2. Read something worthwhile: a book about a saint, a book about a particular aspect of the faith that you want to learn more about, a book that is simply good literature and thus is worth reading. There are four seasons in the year, so a simple rule of thumb can be one book per season.  (Since I love reading, I might be slightly biased with this one!  If you need a recommendation for something, let me know.)

  3. Pray every single day. Ask the Lord what the minimum might be: the amount of time you will spend in prayer every day no matter what kind of day it has been. Fighting for time with the Lord will transform your life. Last year, the whole Diocese celebrated a Year of Prayer and had these suggestions/challenges:   *  Married with kids at home: 10 minutes of daily prayer.   *  Married empty nesters: 30 minutes of daily prayer. *  Married retired: one hour of daily prayer.  *  Single: one hour of daily prayer.  *  Priests: two hours of daily prayer plus Mass.  *  Deacons: one hour of daily prayer.

  4. Forgive. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Make a resolution to forgive somebody for whom you’ve been harboring resentment, then do something tangible like offering a Mass for them or placing a picture of them before an image of the Blessed Mother or just daily praying, “Father, I forgive N. Please give me the grace to forgive him/her.”

  5. Remember that when we fall, we get back up! Part of any resolution is learning to be in it for the long haul—with all the twists and turns that entails.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 29 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on the Lake,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (almost)!  I hope that everyone had a great time with your families and friends and will do so over New Year’s.

The Church will celebrate Christmas for a whole season that will end on Jan 12th.  All these days, we need to ponder anew the reality of Christmas and what it means that Jesus was born into the world.

Whenever we walk by a stable scene where we see Jesus as a baby lying in the manger, it brings up one real question: “Why did you do this?”  If we are able to ask that question, we will hear Jesus’ answer: “I did this for you.  You are known and loved.  You are worth being born in a stable and you are worth dying on a cross.  You are never alone.”

Ponder these truths and we will be able to enter into Christmas.  Leading into this season, the Lord has been placing this sense on my heart that He wants to take our burdens from us.  This is the marvelous exchange of Christmas: we bring our burdens, our wounds, our sins and He brings us life.  May we all encounter anew this love that heals and makes whole!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 22 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Thank you for all your birthday wishes.  Come Monday, I will be the big 32!  My official birthday is Monday, so I will be able to join my brother for dinner at my folks’ place before we both go to our respective parishes for Christmas Eve on Tuesday.

One of my favorite aspects of Advent and Christmas is that they reveal the fidelity of God in bringing His plans to fulfillment.  This story, and the whole story of salvation, is filled with prayers and promises.  Those prayers and promises were never forgotten, even if they were answered in ways and times much different than expected.  At times, we can wonder if God does hear our prayers and if He is going to ever answer them.  This season reminds us that no prayer is ever wasted.  Furthermore, that no act of grace, no act of love is ever wasted and can bear fruit in ways and times we can’t imagine.  I think of the happenings of that regular winter night in Bethlehem and the fact that so many of the people who interacted with Mary and Joseph had no idea of what was unfolding in their midst.  Yet their simple acts of love still echoed into eternity.

This is a picture of a cup two gentlemen dropped off at the rectory a few weeks ago.  On the side of it is an inscription that reads: “To Rev. Elsen by the pupils of Parochial School Hudson  Jan 1st 1881.”  These brothers found this cup in their mom’s house after she passed away. They do not know how she came into possession of it, but they thought it belonged here.

I think of the journey of this cup—a beautiful gift from the school kids and how it would have cheered up Fr. Elsen when he saw it.  An act of love perhaps forgotten by those who gave it all those years ago but remembered anew.  Now it has made its way back to us 138 years later.  God’s timing isn’t our timing. This cup is a little reminder of how nothing is forgotten. This Christmas season, bring to the Lord again those needs that may weigh you down.  Be encouraged in your acts of love, knowing that they can and will be used in ways you may never know…until maybe 138 years later!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 15 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Thank you for your participation at the annual Cantata.  It is a beautiful thing to see us coming together from so many churches to produce this work of art.  I am grateful we can host it at Sacred Heart.  This past week, I joined my twin brother at his parish for a morning of reflection (similar to what we did over the summer).  It was hosted by twin sisters who are also both religious sisters!

This week on Wednesday, December 18th, we will have our annual Advent Penance Service at Sacred Heart at 7pm. The Sacrament of Confession is a beautiful encounter with the Lord’s love and mercy.  During this Advent I have been struck by a sense from the Lord that He knows and sees our hurts, our burdens, and He wants to set us free.  While that healing love can be experienced in many ways, confession is a particular avenue of that grace.  In it we can hand over sins and experiences that weigh us down.  It is very, very easy to carry things for years and it is incredible within the context of the sacrament to see the freedom of handing it over, whatever it might be.

Last Sunday in Deacon John’s homily he shared a powerful moment of conversion in his life.  Part of that was a renewed practice of confession.  Sometimes we can hear stories like that but then be unsure of what the next step might look like.  I want to encourage everyone: never be afraid of going to confession.  If it has been many years and you have no idea how or where to start, any priest will be happy to guide you through it.  It is actually not that uncommon for that to be the way for a confession to start.  If you don’t know quite how to prepare, don’t be afraid to simply come.  I am happy to lead someone through the ten commandments as an examination of conscience within the confession.  At the end of confession, I will quite often ask some version of this question:   “Of the things you bring to confession today, does any one of them bother you the most?”  Whatever that thing is, I try to give a penance that is tailored to helping take the next step in healing from it.  Often enough it will simply be the encouragement to never give into discouragement.  Discouragement is one of the evil one’s favorite tools.  Revelation talks about the great battle between Satan and the archangels at the end of which is proclaimed this victory chant: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.  For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”  Too often this voice of discouragement and accusation can have room in our life.  Confession is a place to recognize that voice and find freedom from it.  Jesus always invites us to get back and take the next step.  Confession, then, is the experience of handing over those things that trip us up and taking Jesus’ hand to get back up and keep moving forward.

A great resource for confession, both in understanding it more and answering some of people’s frequently asked questions, can be found at Catholics Come Home.         https://www.catholicscomehome.org/your-questions/what-is-the-sacrament-of-confession/

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 8 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  On top of a very fun and food-filled few days, my family was especially blessed with the birth of the 10th grandchild, Owen, on last Saturday.  I was happy to be able to visit him in the hospital a few hours after he was born while on my way back to Hudson.  He was a very healthy 9 pounds!

This coming week, we will have an Advent night of reflection on Thursday, December 12th, at 6pm at St. Mary on the Lake.  (I hope to have a similar night of prayer during Lent at Sacred Heart).

Advent is one of those seasons that is an incredibly busy time with all of the Christmas parties.  Amidst all of this craziness (as good and enjoyable as the parties are), we can struggle to find time to really pray and prepare for Christmas.  This night of reflection is meant to be an hour we simply spend with Jesus and He spends with us.

While praying about what Jesus wants this time to be focused on, He has been bringing up this verse from Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” That is what this night is meant to be: a time to come before Jesus and let Him take what is burdening us.  Advent celebrates Jesus coming into the world to bring us to Himself.  A great way to prepare for Christmas is give Him what He came for: our hearts, and especially those things that might be weighing us down.  Christmas is a celebration of God doing something miraculous to set the world and our lives free.  For us then, this hour is a time to be in and experience that rest Jesus has come to give us.

The night of reflection will be an hour of time spent in Adoration before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  It is simply a time to sit in the presence of Jesus.  I will offer a short reflection/meditation to help guide us into the hour of prayer. We will have music in the background to help pray.  Fr. Tomy will be there to offer the opportunity for confession.  If anyone has a particular need that they would like prayer for, I will be offering the opportunity to pray with them on an individual basis.

What do we bring to this night?  All those needs that sometimes go unspoken in our lives.  The older I get, the more I realize that this Christmas season is one that can be very difficult for people who have one struggle or another.  It can be a time that highlights old wounds, grief over a lost loved one, divisions in families, and the list can go on.  Sometimes there are things we stop hoping for, things we stop even praying for.  Christmas is a special time of the year to bring them before the Lord.  All these are things Jesus wants us to bring to Him so He can draw us right to His Heart.

I hope to see you there!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 24 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I pray everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving with your families this coming week.  I can’t wait—a lot of family time, food, and (not quite above all) cards!  We will still have our regularly scheduled Masses at Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on Thanksgiving morning.

There will be a community Thanksgiving Service held at Hudson First United Methodist Church on November 26th at 7pm.

Thanksgiving, though a secular holiday, dovetails with our faith, for it is the realization of our blessings.  I want to include President Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation because it captures this reality.  May what he says here be true for us and our country.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

We will have two more Bible Studies this year.  We will be finishing the last two chapters of John’s Gospel.

Sacred Heart Schedule (Meet in the Parish Hall):

Dec 4th at 6pm

Dec 11th at 6pm

St. Mary on the Lake:

Dec 5th at 10am

Dec 12th at 10am

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 17 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Thank you for your support of Sacred Heart School at the Gala this past Saturday.  To my great surprise (and delight), I won the recliner donated by Kelly’s Furniture.  Numerous people have suggested that I make it my presider’s chair in the sanctuary.  For the time being, I think I will leave it in my bedroom!

November, beginning with All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, is a special time of the year when we pray for those who have gone before us.  This coming week we will have a special Mass of Remembrance where we remember and pray for our loved ones.  We will have one at Sacred Heart on Tuesday, the 19th, at 6pm (please note the time change from the typical 5:45pm Mass) and one at St. Mary on the Lake on Wednesday, the 21st, at 6pm.  On the 21st at St. Mary’s there will not be the usual 9:15am morning Mass.  Please join us for these beautiful Masses.

It is during this month that there is a special focus on praying for the souls in purgatory.  People ask what that means.  When it comes to understanding purgatory, I have always loved this description by Pope Benedict XVI.  He wrote:

There will be few people whose lives are pure and fulfilled in all respects.  And, we would hope, there will be few people whose lives have become an irredeemable and total No.  For the most part, the longing for good has remained, despite many breakdowns, in some sense determinative.

God can pick up the broken pieces and make something of them.  In any case, we need a final cleansing, a cleansing by fire, to be exact, in which the gaze of Christ, so to say, burns us free from everything, and only under this purifying gaze are we, as it were, fit to be with God and able, then, to make our home with him… I think it is something very human.  I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare say of himself that he was able to stand directly before God.  And yet we don’t want to be, to use an image from Scripture, “a pot that turned out wrong,” that has to be thrown away; we want to be able to be put right.

Purgatory basically means that God can put the pieces back together again.   That he can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with him and can stand there in the fullness of life.  Purgatory strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together in one enormous symphony of being.

I love this description of purgatory because it captures how it is an experience of love–a love that makes us whole.  We need to remember that purgatory is not a bad thing but a blessing, the final fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to perfect us.   It is not something to be afraid of but seen with joy, for it is to be made whole again.  One of the ways we can accompany those who have gone before us is to pray for them, as they are now in the purifying presence of Love.

 

Let us pray well this month for all deceased!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd