Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 23 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Fr. Tomy and I went out fishing last Saturday with some parishioners.  I have to be honest and say that Fr. Tomy out fished me.  It made me feel better that he also out fished everyone else on the boat!

There have been some questions about the placement of the statues at Sacred Heart.  There have been a few different iterations so I had to make the call on who goes where when we moved everything back upstairs from the basement.  We have Mary and Joseph on their own respective side altars in the Sanctuary with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the side shrine.  I wanted the Sacred Heart statue in the Votive Candle area for two reasons.  Firstly, the Sacred Heart is front and center in the middle window in the Sanctuary.  Secondly, with the Sacred Heart being our Patron I wanted him to be in the side shrine so people can stop and pray and, if they want, light a candle for a particular intention.

This past week we had the parking lot resealed at St. Mary’s, much like it was done at Sacred Heart.  It is part of the regular maintenance required to keep a parking lot in good shape.  That is not a bad analogy for our souls- we also require regular maintenance to keep us healthy and in good working order.  So, I want to mention briefly some good Catholic Maintenance that should be a consistent part of our lives.

Daily Prayer time– this should be a measurable time that we plan into our day everyday no matter what. Usually we don’t have an issue praying to much so I always encourage people to find their minimum.  What is the minimum amount of time I am called to give to Jesus each day?  Once we know that we can plan it in and also hold ourselves accountable to it.

Reading the Bible– This can easily be a part of our regular daily prayer time.  But in some way scripture should be a part of our lives.  When is the last time the bible at home as been cracked?  Pope Francis once asked “Do you read the Bible as often as you check your phone?”  The only caveat I would put on that is if you have a Bible App on your phone- which is something I would highly recommend!

Confession– This is a great sacrament that cleans us up.  For healing things need to be named, claimed, and then tamed by God’s grace. Confessions are available at Sacred Heart Tuesday’s 4:45-5:45pm and Saturday’s from 3:45-4:15pm.  At St. Mary’s they are available Thursday’s and Sunday’s from 8:30am-9:15am.  Never be afraid of not knowing the right words- either Fr. Tomy and I are happy to walk through this sacrament with you.  The whole point is to give Jesus our hearts and whatever is in them for His healing.

Acts of service– We heard last weekend the reading from James where he tells us faith with out works is dead.  It is the that any claim to faith that doesn’t reach outside of ourselves isn’t real.  One way to measure that is acts of love for the people around us.  Is there someone I keep an eye on and watch out for?  We are our brother’s keeper.  Look for someone to help and if there is someone you haven’t seen in a while consider reaching out.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 16 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Families,

One of the hard realities of life is suffering.  Suffering often can feel like being abandoned and we can ask God where He is, why did He allow this or that to happen.  Jesus didn’t promise that he would remove all suffering and hurt but He did promise that no matter what happened He would be with us.  It is part of our life of Faith to continue walking and trusting in times of trial and hardship.  Usually this is much easier said than done.  To that end I am grateful for the feast we celebrated on September 15th, Our Lady of Sorrows.  Mary experienced great suffering and still remained with the Lord throughout it. She can help show us the way and we can lean on her intercession for us.

I have included a brief explanation and reflection on this feast day (https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-feast-of-our-lady-of-sorrows.html) .

The title, Our Lady of Sorrows, given to our Blessed Mother focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised the seven dolors or seven sorrows of Mary, which were foretold by the Priest Simeon who proclaimed to Mary, This child [Jesus] is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare (Luke 2:34-35). These seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother included the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary’s meeting of Jesus on His way to Calvary; Mary’s standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; her holding of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross; and then our Lord’s burial. In all, the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce our Blessed Mother’s heart was fulfilled in these events. For this reason, Mary is sometimes depicted with her heart exposed and with seven swords piercing it. More importantly, each new suffering was received with the courage, love, and trust that echoed her fiat, let it be done unto me according to Thy word, first uttered at the Annunciation.  …

Focusing on the compassion of our Blessed Mother, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminded the faithful, Mary Most Holy goes on being the loving consoler of those touched by the many physical and moral sorrows which afflict and torment humanity. She knows our sorrows and our pains, because she too suffered, from Bethlehem to Calvary. ‘And thy soul too a sword shall pierce.’ Mary is our Spiritual Mother, and the mother always understands her children and consoles them in their troubles. Then, she has that specific mission to love us, received from Jesus on the Cross, to love us only and always, so as to save us! Mary consoles us above all by pointing out the Crucified One and Paradise to us! (1980).

Therefore, as we honor our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, we honor her as the faithful disciple and exemplar of faith. Let us pray as we do in the opening prayer of the Mass for this feast day: Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life. Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 9 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day weekend.  I was able to go home and hang out with family – including my twin brother.  We celebrated by laboring – our project was putting tin on one of the old barns.

Thank you again for your generosity in supporting the Church renovation.  As you know several things fell beneath the budget line of what was possible.  I am very happy to say that through the very generous gift of several families (who want to remain anonymous) we are able to move forward on redoing the entrance to the Church Hall.  We will be able to install an automatic door and redo the floor.  In conjunction with the changes to our pew arrangements that was a part of our Church restoration this will make Sacred Heart fully handicap accessible.  We anticipate that this project will move quickly and can be completed this fall.  An additional gift was given to update the phone system at Sacred Heart.  Currently the three buildings – Church, Rectory, and School are not connected in a cohesive way.  This will tie all three together and also get wi-fi in the church basement to make that space more user friendly.  It is humbling to receive gifts like this- thank you for your care for this parish and each other.

As we enter into the school year one of the things that pick up is athletics.  It is an image used throughout scripture to describe our spiritual life.  Training for any sport requires consistent work, discipline, the humility to be able to be coached so we can grow, teamwork and time management to name a few. These are the attributes necessary for other relationships and should describe our walk with the Lord.  Here are a few instances where scripture uses athletics to call us on in our faith.

Psalm 119:32: I will run the way of your commandments, for you will broaden my heart.

1st Corinthians 9: 24; 27:  Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize?  Run so as to win. …..No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

2nd Timothy 4:7: I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2a:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.

Philippians 3:13-14: Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.

I want to thank John Zuelke and the many volunteers who helped make St. Mary’s Fish Fry such a great success.  We raised $4201.  Thank you to everyone from both parishes that came.  I was very happy to do my pastoral duty and taste test the fish numerous times throughout the evening!

Let us all compete well in the arena of faith!

 

God Bles,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 2 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

What a blessing to be back in the newly renovated and restored church and sanctuary at Sacred Heart. Thank you again for your generosity in supporting the project through Witness to Hope and for the many, many volunteers who have given of their time to help it go so smoothly.

At St. Mary’s this is the official end of the summer season and a time when we say goodbye to our summer parishioners.  Thank you for all of your prayers and support and know of ours for you.  I have enjoyed getting to know you in my short time this past summer and I look forward to you return next year.  Thank you to our faithful fish fry crew- another delicious success.

The school year is off to a good start – it is great seeing the school full again.  For many of us the start of the academic year is a good time to take an intentional step to deepen our walk with the Lord.  That is the theme I started last week that I would like to continue.

Another great opportunity we have here at Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s is the biweekly Bible Study that has been going on for the last 5-6 years.  I will plan meeting for roughly an hour.  Previously Fr. Joe alternated the bible study with St. Mary’s – he was at one parish one week and at the other the next week.  I am going to sync them up so I will be at both parishes the same week.  Sacred Heart’s Bible Study meets on Wednesday’s at 6pm in the Parish Hall.  St. Mary’s meets on Thursday mornings at 10am.  Both will be covering the same chapter so if it works to go to one or the other parish, we will be covering the same material.

What a blessing these times are.  Scripture is transformed when we realize it is not just recounting a story but it is my story.  I have heard it said that the stories in the Bible never change – only the faces do.  We see ourselves in them and we meet Jesus reaching into our lives just as he reached into the lives of those we read about.  Please consider coming.  You will not only learn more about Jesus but you will come to know Him more fully.  Paul told Timothy that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2nd Timothy 3:16).  In any encounter with the Lord in the Bible we will experience at one time or another each of these elements.  And doing so we grow.

At our last meeting we picked up at the 3rd Chapter of the Gospel according to John.  At our next meeting this coming week, we will jump into the 4th Chapter of John.

¨ Wednesday, September 5 at Sacred Heart at 6pm

¨ Thursday, September 6 at St. Mary’s at 10am. 

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 26 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

This past weekend two of my sisters went camping with their families at the Lake Hudson State Recreation area.  They tented there one night. The second night, it was so hot, they stayed at the rectory.  That is my type of camping- a nice bed, AC, and a refrigerator!

This is coming week is one of lasts and firsts.  It is our last week in the basement (blessed be God!).  I am excited to be able to celebrate Mass with you for the first-time next weekend upstairs.  On the other hand, this is our first week of school.  Anne and rest of the staff have done a lot of work making improvements in the school and getting ready for the new year.  I am excited for our new year to start.  Please keep our students and staff lifted up in your prayers.  They are an important part of the mission of Sacred Heart Parish.

The beginning of the school year marks the shift from summer to fall and is the start of many different ministries.  Spiritually speaking it can mark a moment of transition where we can hear Jesus calling us to grow, to take another step deeper into our relationship with him.  Our relationship with Him can too easily plateau if we don’t seek to grow.  I encourage all of us to look to what one good step might be this coming year we can take to deepen our faith.  As the kids go back to school let us strive to grow as well.

There are many good opportunities.  This weekend I want to focus on the Diocesan Assembly on September 22nd.  It is a one-day event that will have a lasting impact on your life.  The speakers we will be blessed to listen to are excellent- being able to present and apply the faith to our lives.

All of these speakers have podcasts with them speaking on many, many different aspects of the faith.  I often listen to podcasts in the car or when I am back home driving the tractor.  They can be a great way to hear about the faith from another perspective- plus it is always encouraging to hear others share their stories.  Here are the links to the podcasts for each of the speakers:

Fr. Mike Schmitz: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-fr-mike-schmitz-catholic-podcast/id1200915759?mt=2

Jennifer Fulwiler: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-jennifer-fulwiler-show/id944869051?mt=2

Deacon Larry Oney: https://radiomaria.us/hope-and-purpose/page/2/

For more info on the Made for Happiness Assembly and to register for FREE, please visit https://madeforhappiness.org/

Please join me at the 12th annual St. Mary on the Lake fish fry on Friday, August 31st from 5:00-7:00 pm.  It will be a great way to start your Labor Day weekend.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

A Letter from Bishop Boyea

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I am writing this to you due to the recent removal of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick from ministry. Once again, the sins of a cleric have hurt victims, scandalized the faithful, raised anger in many hearts, and brought ill-repute upon the Catholic Church. Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse of minors, his homosexual activity and his abuse of seminarians and young priests are beyond the pale. In addition, some knew about this and did nothing to address his behavior. I am as shocked as you. So, first of all, I apologize for his behavior and the behavior of those who did nothing to stop him. It is incredibly wearying and demoralizing to hear yet again about these sexual sins and alleged crimes. Let us hold each other in prayer.

As you may know, each bishop is ultimately responsible to the Holy Father, who is the only one who can remove him. Still, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be discussing how we bishops might attempt to hold one another accountable, given this limitation. I can never give a guarantee that there will not be other clerics who violate their promise of celibacy and abuse their positions. We are all sinners. The Lord Jesus knew what the archbishop did just as he knows our sinful selves as well. Beyond what we can do as human beings to address the behavior of one another, we also commend ourselves and each other to the charity and justice of our God. Christ is our hope in all things. May God have mercy on us all.

Bishop Earl Boyea, Diocese of Lansing

 

 

https://dioceseoflansing.org/news/bishop-earl-boyeas-statement-current-sexual-abuse-crisis

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 19 2018

Dear Parishioners,

We had a good turnout Saturday to spread mulch around the school playground.  Matt Shaffer graciously lent us his Bobcat which I enjoyed driving!  On my day off I helped my parents cut and chop 35 acres of hay.  Overall, I have had a lot of tractor time which is good for my soul!

This weekend we continue to hear Jesus describe the Eucharist in the Bread of Life Discourse from the Gospel of John.  The Eucharist is Jesus’ complete gift of Himself to us.  In the Eucharist He is totally present to us.  It is a reality we need to dive into again and again, to continue to deepen our understanding of what it means to be so loved.  Over the centuries the Church has developed rich imagery that capture one reality or another of Jesus’ gift of Himself.

The image I want to turn to is that of the pelican.  At my ordination I received a green vestment that has this image on it – a mother pelican feeding her chicks. Understandably I have received many questions about it! I have included in this article a close-up picture of that image from my vestment.

This image has roots that predate Christianity.  It was thought that the Mother Pelican, if there was no food available for her young, would pierce her own breast to feed them with her blood.  Christians very quickly picked up this image as a symbol of what Jesus does for us in the Eucharist when He feeds us with His own body and blood.  Just as the mother pelican pours out her own life for the sake of her young so Jesus pours out His very life for us that we might have life.  In St. Thomas’ great hymn to the Eucharist, “Adoro te Devote”, he included this stanza: “Like what tender tales tell of the Pelican.  Bathe me, Jesus Lord, in what Thy Bosom ran.  Blood that but one drop of has the power to win.  All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.”  If you keep your eye out when you go into older churches you will be surprised how often you will see it!

I have loved meditating on this image and to wear it as I celebrate Mass.  Here is what God has done for me and continues to do for me.  Why would I turn to anything other than Him to sustain me?  How easy it is to do so.  Jesus invites us to Himself and to receive His own self-sacrifice.  Let us run to Him and strive to receive Him with grateful and prepared hearts in the Eucharist.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 12 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family!

I had a great vacation but it is good to be back home!  The floor renovations in the Church are moving along well.

It is hard to believe that it is already August. This is the time of summer when we realize we are in the waning days of vacation and there is a collective realization that we need to begin gearing up for the coming school year.  While I can’t speak for our students I can say that I am excited for the school year.  (The fact that I am no longer in school helps my excitement!). Concurrent with the school year many of our various ministries pick back up at both of our parishes.

In this time of transition the challenge is to enter into it well.  One of the great pieces of advice I have received was to take a moment like this before a new period starts and to surrender and consecrate it to Jesus ahead of time.  To simply pray, “Jesus I consecrate this new school year, this season of football, this time of preparation for first communion, etc, to You.  Please help me do all of this for your honor and glory.  Help me be open to the people I will meet and the graces you want to give me.”  Make the prayer specific to you and what the year will bring.  Even if your life is going to continue on in what feels like the same old rut make it new by consecrating it again.

Paul wrote to the Colossians “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).  If we do this we give the Lord full permission to be involved in every aspect of our coming year and it can be help remove anxiety, fear, and stress.  On another level this can be a way to a powerful way to take things out of our hands that we can’t control anyway and instead entrust it to God and His will.  Jesus, we consecrate this coming year at Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s to You!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, August 5 2018

Dear Sacred Heart,

A big thank you to everyone who gave gifts in the welcome basket from both parishes!  With the gift cards I was able to get some things for my offices and the rectory kitchen.  On Thursdays when there are no parish events, Fr. Tomy and I pray evening prayer together and have dinner (usually his Curry).  This past Thursday, I taught him how to play Backgammon.  He claimed to never have played before but from the beating I received I think he may have been a Backgammon shark!  To protect my pride, I have been telling myself I am just a really good teacher.

This Monday, August 6th, I am concelebrating at a Mass for my friend, Sr. Maria Regina, who is taking her final vows with the Sisters of Life (http://www.sistersoflife.org/).  They are a community founded in 1991 to particularly protect and uphold the dignity of human life.  If you would like to learn more about her specific vocation story here is a link to a video made by the Archdiocese of Toronto.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7og8ygvoDZ4- )

 

I want to use this occasion to talk briefly about religious vocations.  Sadly, there are not as many vocations as there used to be and so this beautiful part of the Church is not as visible as it used to be.  Without it something is missing.  Sr. Maria Regina is a reminder that there are still vocations and for us to keep on praying for them.

Like the priesthood, our culture has a hard time understanding this calling.  Whether or not it is asked this directly people look at the celibate religious vocation and wonder if it is possible for someone to be happy living that life.  It can be hard to express the joy that comes from being able to put your life totally into God’s hands, and then with Him, to be able to do His work.  If you want to see a picture of that joy look at her vocation story.  Jesus tells us that: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39).  The religious vocation is simply the giving of your life away and finding it anew in the Lord.

One of the important roles the religious serve in the world, besides being able to do the Lord’s work, is their sign value.  Their whole life points to Heaven ahead of time and the fact that we are meant to live with God for all eternity.  In a world that is beautiful and filled with good things religious sisters and brothers remind us that all that is good and beautiful in the world came from God.  That this world, as good as it is, is passing away and we are made for eternity.  It is easy for us to take our eyes off of Heaven and get entirely caught up in earthly pursuits- religious remind us and raise our eyes back to Him.  In a world forgetful of God religious, by their very presence, remind us of who we are meant to be.

In our own parishes we have been blessed.  Fr. Matthew Hartley from Sacred Heart was ordained for the Archdiocese of Denver in 2006.  From St. Mary’s Gabriel Heidbreder is studying for the Fathers of Mercy.  Sunday, August 19th in Dewitt we have the Bishop’s priesthood discernment dinner for those going into their junior year of high school and older.  I would love to have some guys from here go.  Let’s keep on praying for vocations!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin Article, July 22 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Our floor renovation is progressing very well and on schedule.  This past Monday, Fr. Tomy joined me on the farm for a tour and a visit.  I gave him a set of farm clothes in case a disaster happened but he came through unscathed without any manure on him!  It was also his first experience driving a tractor.  By the time we were done he was becoming an old hand.

 

With the example of our two patrons, the Sacred Heart and St. Mary, I want to turn to their example and wisdom for their direction and guidance in these two outposts of God’s Kingdom.  This week I want to turn to the example of our Blessed Mother.

Mary is a beautiful example of Discipleship, of what it means to be a Christian.  I am struck by her first and last words.   We meet Mary when the Angel Gabriel is speaking to her, asking her to be the mother of God.  Mary’s response to this request is “Let it be done to me according to your will”.  We hear Mary speak her last words when she is with Jesus at a wedding reception in Cana.  Seeing the need for wine she asks Jesus to take care of the problem and tells the servers to “Do whatever he tells you”.

We can learn a lot from Mary’s first and last words.  She begins by being totally open to God’s will- which is certainly harder to do than it is to say.  Those moments, big and small, come to each of us and we need to pray for the grace to also surrender ourselves.  It is important to remember that these moments are never a one-time event- our surrender to Jesus and His will is a daily choice.  Some days it is an hourly choice!  Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel and she continued to say yes to the Lord even up to the foot of the cross.  Mary’s beginning posture of openness to God, even in incredibly difficult and confusing situations, was maintained throughout her life.  It needs to be the same for us.  When it is hard to say Yes Mary is there to pray for us and take her to Jesus just like she took that young couples need for wine to Him.

Which takes us to Mary’s last words- “Do whatever he tells you”.  Mary ends her words in the Gospels by simply pointing to Jesus.  If only our life can be that simple, where all we say or do would be words or actions that point to Jesus.  I have heard that a good metaphor for holiness is that of window.  The saints are a clean window, people through whom others can see Jesus clearly.  Jesus tells us He is the light that has come into the world. The question then becomes how much of His light can shine through us.

Mary, we ask for your help to surrender our lives more fully to Jesus on a consistent basis.  Help us to point always to you.  May our first words and our last words so define our lives.

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd