Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 27, 2019

 

Dear Sacred Heart Family,

We kickoff Catholic Schools week this weekend.  Our school was a long-time hope that found fruition in 1928 and we are blessed to have it continue to this day.  Thank you for all of your support.  I am grateful for being able to go to Catholic Grade School in my home town.

I want to finish our series on New Year’s resolutions.  Our first was patience with God, Faith, patience with ourselves, Hope.  Our last is patience with others, Love.

I have found this to capture a good part of what Love asks of us- patience, patience, patience.  It is the patience a parent has watching their child grow and develop at the pace a child grows. They don’t turn into an adult over night and we can’t expect them to.  On the spiritual side we grow in a very similar way and we need to have that same patience to walk with someone through the awkwardness that growing includes with it.  A few things to remember as we ask for this grace this year:

Pray that you can love others like God has loved You

We read in Deuteronomy 1:30-31: “The LORD, your God, who goes before you, is the one who will fight for you, just as he acted with you before your very eyes in Egypt, as well as in the wilderness, where you saw how the LORD, your God, carried you, as one carries his own child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place.”

Moses is talking about how God carried Israel for 40 years in the desert.  Those 40 years were not all that pretty though.  They included much kicking and screaming by the Israelites and the Lord had great patience with them, has the same patience with us.  It can be really helpful to think of the ways God has been so patient with us, even as we perhaps kicked and screamed, doing anything but following Him, doing what He asked of us.  When we consider the love and patience God has had for us, we can then turn around and pray that we can be patient with this person in the same way Jesus has been patient with me.

Pray that you can love others like people have loved you

We need to remember those who have been so incredibly patient with us and then pray for the grace to pay it forward. Think of those who have done this for you, parents, family member, mentors, teachers, coaches, employers.  It is always funny to talk to someone when they are raising their children and that moment of clarity comes where they realize they understand what they themselves put their parents through!

Take time tonight thanking God for His Patient love, for the patient love of others in your life

Often enough is only in hindsight that we can realize the gift given to us by another.  In the midst of our gratitude we can realize that we are simply praying for the grace to do for another what so many, God included, have done for us.

Place the people you have the hardest time being patient with before the Lord

God loves whoever this person might more than we ever can or will.  No matter how difficult something has become this something we can always do.

God Bless!  Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, January 20 2019

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Dear Sacred Heart Family,

It has been great having Dan join us. One of the things he will be getting involved in is our confirmation program.  That began last week with helping them prepare and serve food for Share the Warmth in Adrian.  I also taught him and Fr. Tomy how to play dice – one more game for the repertoire.

I want to continue with our theme of new Year’s resolutions.  Last week was faith – patience with God.  This week is Hope –  patience with ourselves.  A few things to consider:

How well do we know ourselves, or weaknesses and our strengths?

St. Ignatius says the evil one is like a robber who comes to our walled city and, after having examined all of our defenses, attacks us where we are weakest. The best way to defend ourselves then is to know our weak points so we can shore them and so we won’t so easily be tripped up.  While it can be discouraging to think of our weaknesses it is simply good information to help us better live.

We learn to see ourselves in the same light that God sees us in:

Psalm 25:7: “Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me according to your mercy, because of your goodness, LORD.”  This is how God thinks of us, not with condemnation but with love.  He thinks of us in the light of His mercy and love.

There is a prayer I love that paraphrases Psalm 25:7 like this “Lord forgive the sins of my youth and stupidity”.  Any introspection will dredge up stuff that we are not proud of and we can wonder what God thinks of us, if He can help grow through our mistakes.  The answer is yes and we need to see ourselves the same way He see us and move forward with Him.

 Don’t despise the small, practical beginning

We hear in the prophet Zechariah 4:6-10: “Then he said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.  Who are you, O great mountain?  Before Zerubbabel you become a plain. He will bring forth the first stone amid shouts of ‘Favor, favor be upon it!’”  Then the word of the LORD came to me: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house, and his hands will finish it. Thus you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.   For whoever has scorned such a day of small things will rejoice to see the capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel.”

 Zechariah was looking at the impossible task of rebuilding of the Temple.  God encouraged the people to just be faithful and persevere even with small steps.  For us, is it any surprise that it takes a little while to break a habit that has gotten entrenched over years of my life?  We persevere in the small steps of growth that we can too easily overlook, these works of grace in our lives.

Choose truth consistently:

We hear in 1 John 3:1-3: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”

 This is the truth of who are, our identity that nothing can take away.  When things get really hard, when we really don’t have any more patience with ourselves, we lean back on these truths.

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

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