Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 13 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Dan Lacroix moved in this past week.  He will be helping out with our confirmation program and other parish activities as he gets settled in.  I have already discovered that he is a worthy opponent in cards and that he has no qualms about beating his pastor!

I want to continue our theme on Spiritual new year’s resolutions by looking at ways we can grow in faith, hope, and love.  Someone once told me you can understand these virtues as Patience with God (faith), Patience with ourselves (Hope) and Patience with others (Love).  This week I want to look at faith, Patience with God.  Here are a few ways to live in this patience with God.

 

Remember that God works in the right time in the right way and with the right people. That can be incredibly different than the timing I had in mind, the way I had in mind, and the people I had in mind. There is the beautiful passage from Isaiah 55:8-11 that can be a blessing to pray with when we are in the midst of difficulty and we are waiting and trusting that God will act.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.  Yet just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

 

Be real with your prayer. Good prayer is simply telling Jesus exactly what is in our hearts even if what is in our hearts is not particularly pretty.  We need to bring our doubts, questions, and anger to the Lord.  But then we end with faith- Jesus I may not see exactly what you see yet I will trust in you. A scripture I like for this is Psalm 57, the prayer of David hiding in a cave while King Saul is hunting him down to kill him.  David is trying to do God’s will and it is not going as he anticipated.  He cries out to the Lord his frustration but he also ends in trust.

“Have mercy on me, God, have mercy on me.  In you I seek refuge.  In the shadow of your wings I seek refuge till harm pass by.  I call to God Most High, to God who provides for me.  May God send help from heaven to save me, shame those who trample upon me.  May God send fidelity and mercy.  I must lie down in the midst of lions hungry for human prey.  Their teeth are spears and arrows; their tongue, a sharpened sword.  Be exalted over the heavens, God; may your glory appear above all the earth. They have set a trap for my feet; my soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me.  May they fall into it themselves! My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast.  I will sing and chant praise.

 

Joyful surrender and Perseverance: Please read this beautiful prayer from Charles de Foucauld

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;

do with me what you will.

Whatever you may do, I thank you:

I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,

and in all your creatures –

I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,

to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,

and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. 

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 3 2019

 

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Happy New Year!

This, of course, is the time of year for resolutions.  Resolutions are typically all about things that we plan on doing this year to be better people- lose weight, have more patience, exercise regularly, forgive those who have wronged us, and love more.  But, the first step in faith is always to receive what God gives- every act of faith is always a response to love and grace given.  So, our first resolution on a spiritual level shouldn’t be to do anything.  Rather it is to ahead of time for all this year will hold to say Yes to God and His plan.  We want to say Yes now before whatever has not happened yet, happens.  (I know that that is a mouthful of a sentence but I think it makes sense!)  It is a beautiful act of faith- saying: Jesus you are loving, you are faithful, you promise we never walk alone.  No matter what happens that doesn’t change.

On a spiritual side then, that means a couple of things….

Let the first act of the New year be Surrender.  I don’t have the slightest clue as to what will happen to me in this new Year.  So ahead of time I want to tell Jesus- “I am open to what this year holds.  With your grace I will try not to complain too much when something happens that I’m not ready for or expecting.  If difficulties arise help me remember when the time comes that you are still with me.”

Look to see if you put limits on God.  I have discovered that I often put caveats on what God can or cannot do, what He can or cannot allow to happen.  This means that while I say that I am willing to pick up the cross and follow after Jesus there are times, I don’t want to even touch the cross.  When it does come, I am tempted to simply throw it away and tell Jesus that this is not what I had in mind when I said I would follow you.  Lord please remove these limits I place on you.

The reality is that this coming year will holds many things, both good and bad.  Like Job I want to be able to enter into this year and say regardless of what happens: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”

After taking this first step there are other spiritual resolutions we can and should try to make.  As we work through January, I will continue this theme.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 30 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

We are drawing near to the end of the year and the beginning of a new one.  It is a time to look back at the year and draw it all to a close.  Look back over this year and in hindsight see the working and providence of God.  I want to include here the lyrics of a song by Matt Redman called “Never Once” (You can look it up on YouTube).  This song additional meaning because it was the favorite song of a cousin who died unexpectedly at the age of 22 in the waning days of 2016.  It was one of the songs played at his funeral.  As a reminder of the Lord’s providence over even the hardest things of life this song has been a consolation.  May it be so for you as you look over your past year.

Fr. Todd

 

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace

Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never one did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are, You are faithful, God, You are faithful

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 23 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

 

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!  I include a meditation I find fruitful is on the three comings of Christ:

(http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/three-comings.html)

“Jesus was born into our history – at a fixed point in time in the past.  Jesus comes to us now, in a whole variety of ways.  Jesus promised that he will come again in glory, at the end of time.

 

The Incarnation:  Jesus has come
This is not the coming we await.  The first coming of Jesus has already happened.  Our preparation to celebrate his birth is the occasion for our deeper reflection  On the first level, it is so important that we really let ourselves experience the power of the Incarnation:  God is with us.  That God became one of us means that “human” is one of the ways God can be.  The deeper we contemplate this mystery the more we enter into the grace of “God with us.”  The more we let ourselves be touched by this mystery, the more we see the connection between Christmas and Easter:  all of this is “for me” – for my salvation – to free me from the power of sin and death.

 

My Life Now:  Jesus comes to me
When we open our hearts and our mouths and plead, “Come, O Lord,” we are most directly experiencing our desire for the Lord to come to us and touch us with the grace of salvation – that we might live it with greater freedom and peace.  Jesus is present whenever we need him to be present:  actually, whenever we turn to him – even with empty hands.  Jesus is alive and active in us when we read God’s Word and let it into our hearts.  Jesus promised to be present with us whenever two or three are gathered together in his name.  And, we know Jesus comes to us whenever our sacrifices and our sufferings unite us with his own mission. Advent is a special time to experience our longing for the presence of Jesus with us now – in all the places we need him most.

 

Our Future:  Jesus comes again, in glory
One of the most transforming graces of Advent is given us as our longing deepens.  The more grateful we become for how God saved us in Jesus, the more deeply we enter into the mystery of how Jesus is with us now.  The closer we come to experiencing joy at how our Lord, Jesus Christ came into our world, faithful to God and faithful to our life journey in the flesh, the closer we come to experiencing the mystery of salvation in our everyday lives.  We live more at home in this world because our God made a home in this world.   But the whole story draws us to a complete picture of who we are and where we belong.  Then our prayer begins to change, in our hearts and on our lips.   We still are singing, “Come, Lord, Jesus!” but our song is transformed into the free and complete song of the lover:  “Come, and take me with you.””

One of the things I love about Christmas is it is an example of God doing the unexpected at an unexpected time.  We weren’t particularly ready for Him and He came anyway.

What is an unexpected way in which God has worked in your life this past year?

The other way to celebrate the joy of this Christmas season is having experienced the Lord loving you in an unexpected way try and do that for the someone else.  Look for an opportunity to love or to serve.  Make the phone call, make the visit and you will be a conduit for God to work through you.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin Article, December 9 2018

 

Dear Sacred Heart Family

 

I have really enjoyed seeing how our local communities work together.  This past week we had two annual events- the Hospice Lights of Love and the Christmas Cantata.  I saw parishioners from both parishes join these larger community wide events.  The Church is meant to be an integral part of the community in which it is found – thank you for your participation in these events.

This Sunday I will go on a Christmas tree hunt with a few members of my family.  In the Koenigsknecht clan, this is almost as exciting as the Griswolds from the National Lampoon’s Christmas!

As we continue entering into this advent season, we will hear God calling out for us to prepare the way for His coming. Here are a few helpful ways to continue growing.

Sign up for Formed.org.  This great resource offers a ton of different materials to help us grow in our faith in some.  If you go to the parish website there is a link that will help you sign up.  Two series are highlighted for Advent:

Advent reflections:  Preparing for the birth of our Savior.  This series offers a short daily reflection by Dr. Tim Gray.  You can sign up and have it sent right to your inbox each day.

 

Prepare the Way:  An Advent Journey. This is a video series   explaining advent and major themes of this season to help us get ready to welcome Jesus more fully into our lives at Christmas.

 

Best Advent ever- (https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever) Matthew Kelly offers this daily devotional that you can sign up for and it will come right to your email each day.  This is a great way to enter into Advent in a more intentional way.

May God bless you during this Advent Season.

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 2 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family

Advent has begun!  Like always it is hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us.  The challenge always is to not let this season pass us by. During this season the liturgical color is purple.  A good way to remember the meaning of purple is that purple is for preparation.  Advent is preparing us for something incredibly important, the coming of God Himself into our midst.  And so we get ready.  That is why we wear purple during the other great preparation time of the year- Lent.

There are many ways to enter into this holy season. One way I want to highlight is to simply take advantage of the area Penance services.

  • St. Anthony in Hillsdale ~ Tuesday, December 4th at 6pm
  • Light of Christ in Deerfield ~ Thursday, December 6th at 7pm
  • St. Elizabeth in Tecumseh ~ Sunday, December 9th at 7pm
  • Sacred Heart/St. Mary on the Lake ~ Wednesday, December 12th at 7pm (at Sacred Heart)
  • St. Joseph Shrine ~ Thursday, December 13th at 6:30pm
  • St. Mary’s/St. Joseph in Adrian ~ December 17th at 7:00pm (at St. Mary’s)

When it comes to confession there are a lot of great resources to help us enter into this powerful and healing sacrament.  If it has been a while since your last confession don’t be worried about not remembering the right words.  Any priest will be happy to help guide you through the sacrament.  I want to mention a couple of apps you can use on your phone that can help you prepare for confession.  Many people can find it helpful to bring their phone to confession and to simply follow the guide.  Feel free to do so.

The first app is call “myParish”.  This app is free, and has a lot of great resources about the faith, our own parish activities, and a helpful examination of conscience.  All you need to do is download the app and on the home screen that appears select the icon labeled confession.

Another excellent (and free) App is “Laudate”.  It is filled with great resources- The Bible, the daily readings, a guide for confession, the liturgy of the Hours, many, many prayers, links to current news, etc.  You now have in one place an incredible trove of resources.  These can be a great way to augment your spiritual life and/or help get your prayer life going

As a Parish, we have subscribed to Formed.org.  We invite all our parishioners to visit sacredheart-stmary.formed.org and register for free.   As a FORMED Subscriber, you will have access to all 9 sessions of Forgiven: The Transforming Power of Confession.   Forgiven explores the grace and healing offered in Confession and shows how this sacrament of mercy reveals the depth and bounty of God’s love. By looking at God’s revelation of his  mercy in Scripture and making a step-by-step examination of the Rite itself, Forgiven communicates God’s invitation to each one of us to come experience his indescribable love in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

There is a lot of information on growing your faith, especially during the Advent Season.  You can also download an app to your smartphone.

St. Mary’s will be hosting an ADVENT HOLY HOUR on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 6:00 pm.  The Advent Hour will be a time of Adoration, with a Gospel and Homily followed by a procession throughout the church.  In all of the busyness of this season this is an opportunity to give the Lord time, to draw near to Him and let Him draw near to you.

Happy and Holy Advent!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 18 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

Fr. Tomy will be gone on vacation from Nov 19 – Dec 9.  We will not have our 8am Mass on the three Mondays he is gone- November 19th, November 26th, and December 3rd.  On Thanksgiving Day we will have our 9am Mass.  We will not have Mass the day after Thanksgiving, November 23rd.

In this month of November when we remember our loved ones, I want to continue our series on the four Christian responses to death.  This week is the importance of taking time in prayer.  We need to take time to pray for our loved ones, for the repose of their souls, and to take time to pray for ourselves and our family members.

When it comes to praying for our loved one let us seek to pray right into the reality of their lives.  The more intimately you know someone the better equipped you are to pray for them because you know more than just the good face we all put on for the world to see- you also know their struggles.  Having walked with them and perhaps having experienced firsthand someone’s shortcomings and struggles you can pray that those very things be set right.  Msgr. Charles Pope wrote this about purgatory: “Yes, there are many things in us that need purging: sin, attachment to sin, clinging to worldly things, and those rough edges to our personality. Likewise most of us carry with us hurts, regrets, sorrows, and disappointments. We cannot take any of this with us to Heaven. If we did, it wouldn’t be Heaven.” These are the things we pray for our loved ones for.

Having prayed for them we need to pray for ourselves and anyone who is impacted by our loved one’s death.  Jesus promised us that He is with us “always, until the end of the age”.  So, in the midst of the grief we pray- Jesus we need you now. I need your strength and I need to be able to lean on you.  When it comes to the other people who have been impacted by a person’s passing I sometimes I simply pray this: “Jesus whoever is most in need of your comfort and consolation today please draw near to them”.  He knows who that person is and can touch their hearts in ways I never can.

Here is a prayer for those who are grieving:

Dearest Jesus, who wept at the death of your friend

and taught that they who mourn shall be comforted,

grant us the comfort of your presence in our loss.

 

Send Your Holy Spirit to direct us

lest we make hasty or foolish decisions.

Send Your Spirit to give us courage

lest through fear we recoil from living.

Send Your Spirit to bring us your peace

lest bitterness, false guilt, or regret take root in our hearts. 

 The Lord has given.                                                                                                                

The Lord has taken away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Amen.

 God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 11 2018

 

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Dear Sacred Heart Family,

This coming week I will be taking some vacation time (November 12th-16th) for a combination of things.  1) I have two priest classmates from Minnesota coming to Michigan for a visit.  2) I will be deer hunting with my twin brother.  3) I have family visiting from New York.  It is going to be a great week!

In this month of November, when we remember our loved ones, I want to continue our series on the four Christian responses to death.  Last week was taking time to grieve.  This week is our response of remembering and learning from those who have gone before us.

Most people are very good at this.  They naturally take time to look back and remember their loved ones.  Often enough it is only when someone is gone from our lives do we realize the magnitude of their actions and their true legacy.  Some lessons only are learned in hindsight

The challenge is to look at those who have died with truth, so that we can truly learn from them.  At times there is a temptation to vacillate between looking back at someone with cynicism so that their whole life is colored in a negative way or looking back at someone with rose-colored glasses so anything negative is obscured.  Well neither of those approaches do someone justice – only truth does.

This practically means looking back at someone who has gone before us and remembering and learning from both the good and bad aspects of their lives.  We learn in two ways – from positive examples that we wish to emulate and from negative examples that we want to avoid doing ourselves.  To truly learn from someone, we need to be able to learn in both of these ways.  All of us are a mixed bag, none of us are perfect.  Just like we wouldn’t think people would be scandalized by that fact so we shouldn’t be scandalized to realize this is true about those who have gone before us.

For the same person then we will have many memories of their acts of sacrifice, their love, their kindness and also things we will need to forgive them for.  This is all part of grieving.  Sometimes people die leaving unresolved hurts that still need to be dealt with, still forgiven even after they are gone. This is not a disservice to them or their memory.  Wounds that remain after someone’s death are too often passed down if we can’t bring them into the light of God’s grace for healing.

Let’s pray for this grace to truly remember and learn from our loved ones.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 4 2018

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

This past Monday I experienced a first in my life.   With two of my brothers, we harvested and processed horseradish.  I think my sinuses will remain clear for the rest of the year!

This week we will have a Mass of Remembrance at both parishes.  This is a great way to start November, the month in which the Church focuses in a special way on praying for our deceased loved ones.  All are welcome to attend.

  • Sacred Heart on Tuesday, November 6 at 6:00pm
  • St. Mary on the Lake on Thursday, November 8 at 6:00pm.

The reality of death is a hard one.  Often, we don’t know how to approach it.  This month I want to look at the Christian’s response to death.  It is fourfold;

  1. Grief
  2. Remembering and learning from our loved ones
  3. Prayer
  4. Realizing God’s providence.

This weekend I want to focus on grief.  We need to remember that grief is a good thing, although it can be incredibly painful to go through.  In the wake of the September 11th attack, Queen Elizabeth II wrote this to families who lost loved ones “Nothing that can be said can begin to take away the anguish and the pain of these moments. Grief is the price we pay for love.”  The fact that we grieve reveals the fact that we first loved and were loved.  To grieve means that something is right, not wrong.

Many of us are familiar with the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  It can be helpful to see these steps because they can articulate what we are going through.  The danger though is that thinking grief is a cut and dry process.

There is nothing lockstep about this process – people do jump from one stage to another and then back again and that is perfectly okay.  There is no timeline for grief and the is okay too.  What is important in all of this that we permit ourselves to grieve.  For as painful as the process is in whatever form it takes it is meant to be healing.

Paul told the Thessalonians “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”   (1 Thess 4:13-14).  In the midst of our grieving we need to lean on the Lord.

If you need more support we are blessed with grief support groups offered through Catholic Charities – www.catholiccharitiesjlhc.org/adam-grief-and-loss .  Support groups meet at Catholic Charities’ Jackson location (3425 Francis Street, Jackson, MI). There is no cost to attend. This ongoing group meets each Wednesday evening, beginning with a 6:15 p.m. potluck dinner and followed by grief support groups from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m.  Groups are held for children (age four and older), teens, and adults.  Those interested in attending can call Catholic Charities at 517-782-2551.

This month let us lift up in prayer anyone who is grieving.

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, October 28 2018

 

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

This past Monday I was home- a beautiful fall day on the farm.  The day’s task was butchering chickens.  Good for us, not so much for the chickens!

I want to encourage you to consider attending Sacred Heart’s Gala this year on November 10th.  I want to mention two of the auction items available that night.

  • The first item is a day at my family’s farm. The day will include a tour, milking cows, feeding calves, collecting eggs, tractor driving, lunch provided by parents (really this means my Mom!), and Mass at the house to end the day.  We host a group around 20-25.
  • The 2nd item is dinner at the rectory for up to 10 people with myself and Fr. Tomy. A homemade curry dinner is available upon request.

This is Sacred Heart’s one big fundraiser of the year. Tickets are available at the office.  My folks are coming that night as well and we are all looking forward to it.

This week we have two important days.  November 1st is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation.  We celebrate this day to remember that this is what all of us are called to- to be saints.  It reorients are vision back on Heaven and gives us the encouragement of all of those who have gone before us and show us the way.

November 2nd is All Souls day. This is the day where we remember all of our loved ones who have died and especially remember those who need our prayers in purgatory.  Sadly, we have lost this sense that we have to pray for the dead so this day is a powerful reminder to do so. I want to share two great quotes on purgatory.

The first is from Pope Benedict….

“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”.

The second is from Msgr. Charles Pope, priest from the Archdiocese of Washington, DC…..

“You know, honestly, is there anyone here carrying stuff with us we know we can’t take to heaven? I’m not just talking about our sins, I’m talking about our heartaches, our hurts, some of those regrets we might carry with us. We can’t take those things to heaven, it wouldn’t be heaven! And so there is a beautiful line in the Book of Revelation that says of Jesus, regarding the death, that He will wipe every tear from their eyes. (cf Rev 21:4) And this is part of what we call in the Catholic tradition the process of purgation. The Lord wipes the tears form our eyes: any sorrows, any regrets, any rough edges of our personality, those effects of sin that still cling to us. The Lord takes good care of it all…he wipes the tears and purifies us with holy fire.”

Let us pray for all of our loved ones who have gone before that they might be brought swiftly into the home of Heaven.  That if there was still any sin or pain still clinging to them that it might be set right.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd