Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 10, 2021

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

It feels good to get the New Year started!  It has been a blessing to have the seminarians around for a few weeks during the Christmas vacation.  Dan returned to Sacred Heart Major Seminary this past week.  Josh and Randy will be returning to St. John Vianney Seminary at the end of January. Along with helping at Masses, they have helped with a variety of projects around the parishes.  This past deer season, that included helping me and Fr. Tomy butcher several deer!

I would like to quote here part of a great reflection on making resolutions for this New Year by Rachel Bulman: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/2021-resolutions-will-need-to-look-back-and-move-forward-with-christ/29401/

Look Back

Making plans for the future must include a look back. Whatever you learned from 2020 should help to orient your goals for 2021. Looking back on this whirlwind of a year may be painful, but it also revealed a lot about each of us. Among other things, we found out how deeply we need each other, how valuable it is to spend time with the ones we love, and the many areas in our social framework that need to be ordered to the human person.

Look Forward

What did you learn from 2020 about yourselves or those around you? How can those lessons impact how you will approach 2021? As you consider your resolutions, place them in this necessary light, asking the same question that you should ask of all action: “How is this ordered to my Christian perfection? How does my resolution help close the past and open up the future to me?”

Invite Christ Into Your Discernment

So, for 2021, invite Jesus into your resolution discernment. Who knows what you truly need to do better than Christ, who is always faithful, and who knows the plans God has for you? Who looked with love on the young man who had kept all of the commandments, and clearly told him the one thing he still had to do (Mark 10:19-22)? In that Gospel, we read that the young man’s face fell, and he walked away. Many biblical scholars believe that this young man shows up later, in the Acts of the Apostles, as John Mark, whose first failure did not preclude continual work toward perfection in Christ.

Don’t Stop Trying

To be resolute in something requires the determination to pursue even after we fail and for that hope to be grounded in something other than ourselves. Even the desire to become the best version of oneself is ultimately to become a better servant to others. A physically stronger you is a more self-reliant you, a more supportive you. A spiritually stronger you is a more spiritually generous you. A you that can keep trying even when it seems like the February Failures are flourishing is a more stable (thus stabilizing) you. And remember, you’ve invited God into this effort. Call on Christ. Call on the saints. Ask for help and help will come.

Allow It

Wherever you determine the best place for your resolve in 2021, may it be seen in the light of Christian perfection, of lessons you’ve learned this past year, and toward the future of your ordinary life. You cannot resolve to become an Olympic gymnast this year if you’ve never done gymnastics and have no time to learn. But you can allow yourself to be trained to your best life. Remember Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

You can do this, but not without Christ. Be resolute in beginning always with him, and the rest will be done through your reliance on his strength.

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 3, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

We are here in the New Year!  I think we are all a bit cautious after the experience of 2020 when so many things we took for granted were turned upside down.  So many of the disruptions that we have been dealing with will be continuing for a few more months.  All that adds up to the fact that we might be approaching this New Year with fear.  We can wonder if Jesus has a plan, if He can somehow draw all of these pieces back together again.

In this New Year, facing these very real questions, I want us to turn to a beautiful story from the Old Testament: the book of Tobit.  It is a short book, but packed with wisdom.  Tobit shares the story of two families.  One is Tobit and Anna; they are an Israelite family in exile and, due to persecution, living in poverty.  To top it off, Tobit becomes blind.  In despair at all that has happened, Tobit prays that God might simply let him die so his suffering can come to an end.  The other family is that of Raguel and Edna.  Their daughter, Sarah, also prays for death because she has lost seven husbands, each killed in turn on his wedding night by the demon Asmodeus.

At this pivotal moment, a moment of despair and perhaps like a moment we might be experiencing ourselves, we hear that “the prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God.  And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them” (Tobit 3:16-17).

This begins a journey where the angel Raphael in human form ends up guiding Tobit’s son Tobiah on a journey to retrieve money for his destitute family.  Raphael unites Tobiah and Sarah and drives away the demon that had been tormenting her.  On the night of their wedding, Raguel and Edna check on Tobiah and Sarah and find that all is well.  They then pray a prayer of thanksgiving.  One line of this prayer especially stands out: “Blessed are you, because you have made me glad.  It has not happened to me as expected; but you have treated us according to your great mercy” (Tobit 8:16, emphasis mine).

There are such important truths wrapped up in this story—the reminder that God does see all that we are going through and sometimes a single answer to prayer will actually encompass many people and many prayers.  Can Jesus draw many scattered pieces, even many scattered sufferings, and bring great good out of them?  Yes!  Oftentimes when we can’t see a way forward, we give into the temptation to think there simply isn’t one.  I love as well this honest prayer from Raguel and Edna, that things didn’t turn out as they expected.  How often God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we expect, and that is okay.  This story reminds us to let God work His solutions in His time and His way.  If 2021 is anything like 2020, we need to remember this truth!

Let us begin this New Year well, surrendering ahead of time all that will come, and confident knowing that Jesus does see it all and can draw all together for good.  May the book of Tobit be a great start for this year.  I am excited to see what Jesus has for this year!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 27, 2020

Dear St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart,

This is the last weekend of 2020—a phrase that this year especially has a lot of built-up excitement as we look forward in hope to a new year!  If you are considering a year-end gift, please remember our parishes, the food pantries at both St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart, and our Sacred Heart School.  I thank you all again for your support during this difficult year.

This weekend is Holy Family Sunday.  I want to continue our focus on St. Joseph and his role in the Holy Family.  In his letter, “With a Father’s Heart,” Pope Francis writes that one of the traits of Joseph’s fatherhood was his tender love.

“Joseph saw Jesus grow daily “in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favour” (Lk 2:52). As the Lord had done with Israel, so Joseph did with Jesus: he taught him to walk, taking him by the hand; he was for him like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to him and feeding him (cf. Hos 11:3-4).

In Joseph, Jesus saw the tender love of God: “As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him” (Ps 103:13).  In the synagogue, during the praying of the Psalms, Joseph would surely have heard again and again that the God of Israel is a God of tender love, who is good to all, whose “compassion is over all that he has made” (Ps 145:9).

The history of salvation is worked out “in hope against hope” (Rom 4:18), through our weaknesses. All too often, we think that God works only through our better parts, yet most of his plans are realized in and despite our frailty. Thus Saint Paul could say: “To keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor 12:7-9).

Since this is part of the entire economy of salvation, we must learn to look upon our weaknesses with tender mercy.

The evil one makes us see and condemn our frailty, whereas the Spirit brings it to light with tender love. Tenderness is the best way to touch the frailty within us. Pointing fingers and judging others are frequently signs of an inability to accept our own weaknesses, our own frailty. Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser (cf. Rev 12:10). That is why it is so important to encounter God’s mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we experience his truth and tenderness. Paradoxically, the evil one can also speak the truth to us, yet he does so only to condemn us. We know that God’s truth does not condemn, but instead welcomes, embraces, sustains and forgives us. That truth always presents itself to us like the merciful father in Jesus’ parable (cf. Lk 15:11-32). It comes out to meet us, restores our dignity, sets us back on our feet and rejoices for us, for, as the father says: “This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found” (v. 24).

Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.”

Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may our own roles be so defined by that same tender love.

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 13, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I hope you are having a happy and holy Advent.  I know it can be a challenge to carve time out amidst the holiday season, but how fruitful that time can be.

This coming week we have back-to-back Advent Penance Services and Evenings of Reflection.  The first will be held on Wednesday the 16th at Sacred Heart.  It will begin at 4:30pm with an extended time offered for Confession for 1½ hours.  The evening will conclude with a time of Adoration and reflection at 6pm. Confession will be available during this time as well.  The following day, the 17th, we will offer this at St. Mary’s on the Lake.  Of course, you are welcome to go to either parish.

There are two important elements of these evenings.  The first is Adoration.  This is a time of prayer that we simply spend with Jesus in His presence. There we pour our hearts out to Him and let Him be with us.  It has been said that we have no problem wasting time with our friends.  We just go and hang out and all kinds of adventures can simply develop.  Adoration is then a great way to “waste” time with the Lord.  It is incredible what He can do when we give Him that time and place.  We have regularly scheduled times of Adoration at both parishes, but the Churches are also both open throughout the day if you want to stop in and spend some time in prayer.

The second aspect of these evenings is the opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Confession is a great grace where we can give our struggles and sins to Jesus.  There is no sin that is too big for God to forgive, yet too often we live life thinking that is so.  We are not meant to carry any of these burdens He came to free us from.  If you have not been to Confession in a long time, don’t be afraid.  Fr. Tomy or I are happy to help you walk through this sacrament.  When someone comes to Confession and it has been 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years, it is just a beautiful thing to see Jesus walk into their lives and bring hope and healing to what has been a source of great hurt, fear, and shame.

Along with these specially scheduled evenings, we will continue to offer our regular times for Confession: Tuesdays at Sacred Heart at 4:45 pm, Thursdays at St. Mary’s at 8:30 am, Saturdays at Sacred Heart at 3:30 pm, and Sundays at St. Mary’s at 8:30 am.

Advent is a season of hope above all else.  It is the time we get ready to welcome Jesus, who is the light of the world and the darkness does not overcome Him.  Adoration and Confession are two powerful ways to experience His Light pouring into us, especially the things that burden us the most.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 6, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Blessed Advent to everyone!  Amidst this closing month of what has been a crazy year, may this be a true time of encounter with the Lord.  Jesus promises that He is the light that comes into the world and that the darkness does not overcome it.  This Advent, we need to above all rest in Him, in that light.  Jesus came, and continues to come, to us.  Psalm 46 is especially a great prayer to remind us of the strength we have in God and to live in the peace that comes from Him.

God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.

Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken

and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,

Though its waters rage and foam

and mountains totter at its surging.

 

Streams of the river gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.

God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;

God will help it at break of day.

Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,

he utters his voice and the earth melts.

The LORD  of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Come and see the works of the LORD,

who has done fearsome deeds on earth;

Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,

breaks the bow, splinters the spear,

and burns the shields with fire;

“Be still and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations,

exalted on the earth.”

The LORD  of hosts is with us;

our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

I know we have been experiencing greater restrictions due to the Coronavirus.  Some Christian Churches have gone completely virtual again.  This has created some uncertainty about whether Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s on the Lake will remain open or not.  I want to reassure everyone that Bishop Boyea has told us that we will not be closing the Churches again. We will keep them open with the current guidelines in place.  With our policies, Masses throughout the Diocese have not been the cause of Covid’s spread.  The Dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass has been extended to the beginning of Lent in the new year for those who shouldn’t be coming to Mass or don’t feel comfortable doing so.

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 22, 2020

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

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving this week!

One of the silver threads of the Pandemic is that it is has called for inventive ways in reaching out and being present.  One great opportunity is coming from our own Bishop Boyea who is offering a Year of the Bible.  We can participate in it by having daily readings texted right to our phones, as well as other special events throughout the year.  Please read this invitation from Bishop Boyea and sign up for a great opportunity this coming year!

 

Dear Friends,

Why read the Holy Bible? Well, as that great figure of the Early Church, Saint Jerome, said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jesus Christ is our reason to read the Holy Bible. It is in the pages of Sacred Scripture that we encounter him; that we get to know him and he gets to know us; that we fall in love with him, and, thus, we discover our deepest peace, happiness and meaning.

That’s why I invite you to join me in reading through the Holy Bible over the course of the next 12 months, starting this Advent. Together, it will be our Year of the Bible. Each day, I will text you or e-mail you a chapter of Sacred Scripture. We will then read it and meditate upon it.

Over the weeks, I’ll also invite you to events; share video reflections with you; and let you know about other Year of the Bible updates. By the end of 12 months, together, we will have made our pilgrimage together.

Do you want to sign up? Well, all you have to do is pick up your cellphone and text the letters BYOB – that stands for Bishop’s Year of the Bible – to 84576 OR go to our Diocese of Lansing website here to sign up: https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/byob

I look forward to journeying with you as we encounter Christ through various books of the Bible over the next 12 months. Let us make this a deeply spiritual year for all of us.

Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,

+ Earl

Bishop of Lansing

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 15, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I want to include an update from Sr. Amber Czeiszperger.  She entered Postulancy this past August with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist located in Ann Arbor.  Postulancy is one year long, during which time she and the order continue discerning if this calling is right for her.  If it is, she would enter into the Novitiate for two years.  After the Novitiate she would take temporary vows for a total of five years.  If after this time she and the community are confident in the calling, then she would take final vows.  Let us keep on accompanying her with our prayers!

“I am doing very well and could not be more blessed!  God is really spoiling the other Postulants and me.  It is such a gift to have Jesus in my home and be able to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at any time.  I am so privileged to be praying, taking classes, and recreating with my Sisters.  My schedule might sound busy, but it is so rooted in prayer that everything flows so beautifully.  We begin our day with meditation and a Eucharistic Holy Hour, ending with praying Lauds.  Then we participate in Mass before heading to the refectory (our dining room) for breakfast.  After breakfast we do our duties around the house.  I am a kitchen cleaner right now!  I love being in the kitchen every day; we sweep and mop and keep the kitchen in ship shape.  Then we have our classes.  I am taking classes here at the Motherhouse with all the other Postulants.  We are studying the Catechism, Vatican Council II Documents, Dominican Spirituality, Latin, and a few other subjects.  I learn so much every day and am constantly falling deeper in love with God and our life-giving faith!  We recreate together afterward; we like to go on walks and play games like soccer or volleyball.  We have an afternoon class and then Spiritual reading before Vespers and a Community Rosary.  Then we eat dinner together, followed by an activity that we do together, like playing card games, making cards, or telling stories. We pray Compline and afterwards have a study hall and then go to bed.  Saturdays and Sundays are a little bit different of schedules because we don’t have classes, and we still pray the same prayers.  Sundays are big celebrations though!  We don’t do any work on the house, but spend more time together and in prayer.

This is just a general outline of my days.  Every day brings a surprise with it and we hardly know what God will call us to do for and with our Sisters!  Our chapel is so beautiful and I love to spend time in there.  We also have some beautiful grounds, with a creek and some trails.  Something that I love doing is cooking for the other Sisters.  During the week the Novitiate cooks for the Community.  I have cooked a few times and help in the kitchen if I have time.  Besides the chapel and outside, the kitchen is my favorite place to be.  There are about 70 Sisters at the Motherhouse right now, so cooking is a lot of fun!

A fun fact is that since I have entered we have seen at least five Bishops and they have given us their blessing.  Like I said before, every day there are surprises!  As a community we have so many beautiful traditions, and as I continue to learn of them and the reasons behind them I thank God for the gift of this Vocation.  I cannot earn it or deserve it, but because Jesus pours Himself out fully on the Cross and at every Mass, I can only respond by pouring myself out to Him and by extension my dear Sisters whom He dwells in.

I pray for you all every day!”

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 8, 2020

Dear St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart,

Over the last two years, the Diocese of Lansing has established a committee called Realign Resources for Mission.  The responsibilities and goals of the committee are to:

  • Gather quantitative and qualitative data from priests, parish staff and parishioners that will provide a picture of the overall health of the diocese. Three resources have already been purchased to facilitate this data collection: Mapdash for Faith Communities, Veracruz for the analysis of Catholic schools, and the Catholic Leadership Institute Disciple Maker Index to assess the faith level of our folks.
  • Using the data that have been gathered, analyze and review the current and future needs of our diocese in terms of parish structure and utilization of resources (human, financial and temporal).
  • Research best practices for diocesan restructuring by looking at other dioceses which have undergone this process.
  • Provide a method and opportunity for the laity, parish staff, and priests to participate in the process and offer their input.
  • In consultation with the director of communications, develop a communications strategy designed to keep the people of God well-informed about the process and results of this work.
  • Provide regular updates and reports to the Presbyteral Council (the council representing our priests) and the cabinet.
  • Recommend a comprehensive plan to realign resources to mission, taking into consideration the analysis of the current situation within the diocese regarding parishes, schools, agencies, priests and temporal and financial goods. Aim to deliver this report by December 8, 2020. The Bishop’s final charge to this group was to pray often so as to seek the common good. It is important that all of us pray for this same common good. We need not be afraid as we seek ideas for renewal and growth. In the end, we wish to be a diocese with parishes that are fully alive communities of missionary disciples, with a vibrant sacramental life, where everyone can encounter Jesus Christ, most especially in the Eucharist.

We will have a meeting at each parish to hear from representatives from the Diocese.  They will be at our parish to meet with staff and parishioners in an effort to explain the reason, rationale and methodology of the Realign Resources for Mission process and, most importantly, to listen to parishioners’ response of the process and how it could, potentially, impact your parish positively or negatively. The meeting will take place in our parish hall and will be approximately 90 minutes long.  The meeting will consist of two components: First, a presentation on behalf of the Realign Resources for Mission Committee; Second, small group discussion followed by feedback from parishioners on your hopes and fears for the process, what you love or feel needs to be known about your parish, and any specific suggestions you may have for the future of your parish or the future of the diocese. All are most welcome.

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 at 7 PM at Sacred Heart

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020 at 7 PM at St. Mary’s on the Lake

For more information, please visit: https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/realign-resources-for-mission

God Bless!

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 1, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

November is a Holy month that begins with All Saints’ Day on November 1st and is followed by All Souls’ Day on November 2nd.

It is a season when we can look up at the example of the saints, who show us what a life lived in Christ, a life transformed by Christ, looks like.  All Saints’ Day is meant to be an encouragement, a reminder of just what is possible for God’s grace to do in our hearts.

A saint that I am encouraged by is St. Jerome.  Whenever I think of him, two aspects of his life come to mind.  The first is his love and dedication to Scripture.  He famously wrote: “Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ.”  The second aspect of his life was that he had a terrible temper.  His anger caused a lot of damage in his lifetime, costing him friendships and hurting others.  It was one of the constant struggles of his life.  How good it is to remember this. The saints had their struggles, but what was important was that in the midst of them they remained with Jesus.  At times this drove them not to despair, but to their knees. In that ongoing struggle with grace their lives were transformed, their hearts softened, their souls joined ever closer to God.  Through that pattern of struggle, repentance, and striving with God, Jerome grew. The saints weren’t those who had all of their stuff together.  The saints were those who continually opened up all of their stuff to God. Let us be encouraged by the saints to run well this race of faith and let even our stumbling be moments that bring us to Jesus.

November is also the month we specifically remember and pray for those among our family and our friends who have died.  One of the beautiful things we do during this month is to offer special Masses of Remembrance.  At these Masses, we invite families to write the names of loved ones on simple crosses that they bring to the front so we can take time to pray together and present them anew to the Lord.  We light a candle in their honor and as a sign of our prayers for them.  These are moments important both for them to know they receive our prayers and also for us in the ongoing process of grief.  This month is a good time to remember that there is no timeline on grief and it can come and go at times that are surprising.  These Masses are important moments in that process to keep on walking through it with the Lord.

Our Masses of Remembrance will be:

Tuesday, Nov. 10th at 6pm at Sacred Heart

Thursday, Nov. 12th at 6pm at St. Mary’s on the Lake

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, October 25, 2020

Dear St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart,

This past week we took our 5th and 6th graders (and a few of last year’s 6th graders) on a trip to the Solanus Casey center in Detroit.  We had been scheduled to visit this past March, but it was canceled due to the shutdown, so I was very grateful to be able to visit and pray with Blessed Solanus.  Last spring both of our parishes had donated socks for the Capuchins to give to the poor and needy that they serve, so we were finally able to deliver them!  Thank you for your generosity.

One of the titles for Blessed Solanus Casey is “God’s Doorkeeper.”  He spent most of his priesthood as the person assigned to answering the door of St. Bonaventure’s monastery in Detroit where he lived.  This meant getting up at all hours of the day and night to meet and pray with people from all walks of life.  He met with them, prayed with them, and in and through those prayers miracles were worked.

One story of many was of a father who went to Fr. Solanus in the middle of the night to ask for prayers for his baby daughter who was dying of an infection.  Fr. Solanus met him, prayed with him, told him to be faithful to Mass, and that his daughter was going to be okay. When he returned home his daughter was sitting up laughing on his wife’s lap.  Shocked at the transformation, he asked his wife what had happened.   She said she didn’t know but that an hour earlier something had happened and their daughter was completely healed.

That is a beautiful story.  What most challenges me is that Fr. Solanus got up in the middle of the night—and that story was just one of many times he would have gotten up in the middle of the night!  I wonder what my reaction would have been to the interruption of my sleep.  His schedule, his time, his life was put in God’s hands to be used as needed.  It has been an encouragement to be willing to surrender my schedule and my plans more easily so God can use me for what He needs.  All of us in one way or another are God’s doorkeeper—someone who can open the door for someone to draw nearer to God.  As we pass through our days, may we not miss the many opportunities the Holy Spirit places before us.  A simple prayer with someone can bear fruit we may never know.  Lord Jesus, help me, help all of us, to be your faithful doorkeeper!

I want to include as well an update from Josh Bauer, one of the seminarians with us over the lockdown.  He is currently studying at St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

“My semester is going very well; the incoming class brings a lot of new life to the seminary and I am really excited to see my brother seminarians and to be able to have formation and spiritual direction meetings again. This year I have two core classes: Modern Philosophy, and a Latin class based on Book 4 of Virgil’s Aeneid. Besides learning where many of our current ideas come from or working on my Latin skills, I also am picking up Ultimate Frisbee! Where my last two years seemed really hectic and crazy, this year is marked by a lot more peace and a beautiful silence in prayer that comes from my relationship with Jesus. I am growing in my love of the Lord and my love of the priesthood, and feel right at home. May the Lord bless you all!”

 God Bless,

Fr. Todd