Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 15 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

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

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

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

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

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, December 8 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope to see you there!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 24 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Heart Schedule (Meet in the Parish Hall):

Dec 4th at 6pm

Dec 11th at 6pm

St. Mary on the Lake:

Dec 5th at 10am

Dec 12th at 10am

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 17 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Let us pray well this month for all deceased!

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 10 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Last week, I got an email from our diocesan lawyer.  He let me know that someone had made up an email address under my name and tried to scam some money from the Attorney General’s office.  I must say whoever it was went right to the top!  (I should also mention that the Attorney General’s office declined to send the $500 in gift cards they were asking for!)  Another first in my pastoral life that makes for a good laugh.

On a more serious note, a difficult reality that many people are touched by in one way or another is divorce.  This can be the person who has been through a divorce themselves or someone whose parents are divorced. The diocese is trying to help heal some of the wounds this creates.

The Diocese of Lansing’s Marriage and Family Life office is offering a special retreat called Recovering Origins: A Healing Retreat for Adult Children of Divorced or Separated Parents.

https://dioceseoflansing.org/event/recovering-origins

Recovering Origins is a three-day retreat at St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, Michigan that invites participants to move through the broken image of love that appeared to them in their parents’ divorce to their deepest origin and identity as God’s beloved capable of great love. The retreat gives participants a greater understanding of the wound of divorce and the ways it affects their lives, offers advice about the difficulties concerning love and trust of others, and explains how the Catholic faith, spiritual practices, and the Sacraments are essential to self-knowledge and healing. This retreat has something for any adult child of divorce or separation no matter how much healing you have already received or need!

 The retreat begins on November 22 at 7:00 p.m. and ends on November 24 at 3:00 p.m.

For those who have themselves been through a marriage that ended in divorce, there are numerous resources to help.  I want to mention a couple of them here.

Lisa Duffy works to help people work through recovery after a divorce. She has numerous books that you might find helpful.  More information can be found at her website: https://www.lisaduffy.com/.

Rose Sweet has developed a program called Surviving Divorce: Hope and Healing for the Catholic family.  You can find more information at her website: https://catholicsdivorce.com/.

Even if these do not apply to you, please think of someone in your life for whom they do and consider passing some of this information along to them. You could be a catalyst to greater healing in their life.

You may have noticed that Sacred Heart’s bell has not been ringing this past week.  Our bell is rung in two ways. The first is an external hammer that strikes the bell as it is immobile- this produces the first, quieter tone.  The second is the internal hammer that rings the bell as it swings- this produces the second, louder tone.  The internal hammer has fallen out because the large nut that holds it on the bell worked itself loose.  I have turned the bell mechanism off until we can get that fixed.

Thank you to some generous parishioners who donated money for lights at Sacred Heart Church and School.  The two lights flanking the school steps are now working again.  The bulbs in the upper level of Sacred Heart are replaced with LED’s and will be regularly used.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, November 3, 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

We have many teachers among both of our parishes.  On Friday, November 1st the Hudson area churches delivered lunches to the teachers and administrators at the public schools and Sacred Heart school to support and thank our teachers for their service.

I have attached a publicity piece for the upcoming Prayer and Blessing for our schools.   Members of our congregation are invited to attend the Prayer and Blessing at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Monday, November 4 at 5:00pm.

“The Hudson area churches will provide lunch for the staff at Lincoln Elementary, High school and Middle School and Sacred Heart School on Friday, November 1st.  It was decided to provide the lunch as our way of showing appreciation for the commitment they have made to the children and families of the Hudson community and that we are also praying for them and the work they do. 125 box lunches from Subway will be purchased and delivered to the schools.  We also hope to include a message in each box lunch to make the teachers and staff aware of who is providing the lunches and also an invitation to attend the prayer and blessing time on Nov. 4.

 Our Saviour Lutheran is providing some funding for the lunches and the Ministerial Association will cover the balance.  This is an opportunity to broaden their understanding of what they are doing to reach out into the Hudson community with the love of Christ and the work the ministerial association seeks to do to assist the hungry, homeless and hurting people in our community. I would also not hesitate to give them the opportunity to help finance the purchase of the lunches. Each of our congregations have individuals who like the chance to give to a special need. Letting them know of this outreach event may move them to give a special gift to the ministerial association. Any donations received can be directly sent to the ministerial association.”

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, October 27, 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Thank you for your prayers for the Confirmation retreat this past week.  We had 45 kids there from around the vicariate.  Our own Jen Loar helped with a lot of the planning in conjunction with other DRE’s from the other parishes.  Thank you, Jen!

We had the Mass Explained at Sacred Heart last week and this week we are offering it at St. Mary’s.  In the process of getting ready for the Mass Explained, I was struck by how much is present in the Mass and how much I couldn’t talk about due to time.  There is a great richness in the Mass that we can easily miss if we don’t know what is there.  To fill out more of what I know is lacking from what I presented, I want to mention some more resources.

Behold the Mystery: A Deeper Understanding of the Catholic Mass 

https://www.amazon.com/Behold-Mystery-Deeper-Understanding-Catholic/dp/1593252285

As Catholics, the Mass should be a mountaintop experience for us. Often, though, we go through the motions at Mass without an appreciation for what has really happened. Popular speaker and author Mark Hart helps Catholics move beyond the repetition and ritual to see the Mass for what it really is: a heavenly banquet, a wedding feast, in which heaven and earth meet. In his engaging style, Hart guides readers toward a deeper understanding of the Mass, its roots in the Jewish Sabbath, its sacrificial character, and its signs and symbols. As we are told to go in peace, he inspires us to see the Mass as a place to be nourished so that we can further Christ’s mission in the world.

In the last part of the book, Hart provides pithy answers to frequently asked questions, such as: “Why can’t I leave right after Communion?” or “Why did the words change?” Finally, Hart offers ten things we can do to get more out of Mass.

 

Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers 

https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Mass-100-Questions-Answers/dp/0867169494/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+catholic+mass+100+questions&qid=1571769831&s=books&sr=1-1

The Mass may seem routine, and it may be the common property of millions of Catholics, but much lies beneath. Mike Aquilina not only answers practical questions about this central act of Catholic worship, but also walks you through the Mass, explaining the meaning behind the prayers and practices. Find answers to such questions as:

  • What is the Real Presence?
  • What are the Jewish roots of the Mass?
  • Why is the Mass a sacrifice?
  • Why do some people receive Communion on the tongue and others in the hand?

 

You may be surprised by how much you’ve missed in your understanding of the Mass.

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, October 13 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I hope you are enjoying these beautiful fall days!  I was at my parents’ this past Monday and spent a refreshing day outside working on various projects.

This coming week, we have a few special events.

  • On Wednesday, I will be joining a field trip with Sacred Heart students to visit Notre Dame. It is a beautiful campus and it is a treat to be able to celebrate Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart as a part of our tour.  It is always a joy to visit the place where Jesus’ mother Mary went to school.
  • On Saturday, our Confirmation class will be having a one-day retreat with other Confirmation kids from the surrounding region. I will be spending the day there with them.  Please keep us in your prayers that we might powerfully encounter the Holy Spirit.  Come Holy Spirit!
  • On Sunday, October 20th, at the 11am Mass at Sacred Heart, I will be doing a Mass explained. We will celebrate Mass but as I go through each part, I will be taking time to explain the meaning of each step.  Mass will be followed by a brunch in the parish hall.  The following week, on the 27th, I will do the same thing at St. Mary on the Lake at the 9:30 Mass.  (Brunch will follow there as well.)

I am very excited about this opportunity.  The Mass is something at the heart of our faith—a powerful weekly time where we come to encounter Jesus.  It is both a time to give and to receive.  We give something to God: our time, our hearts, and all that is in them.   Then having given, we receive grace from Him.  Something that is astounding is that at Mass we give God simple bread and wine that He takes and then gives back to us, but better and transformed: the very body and blood of His Son.  We are called to surrender all of ourselves and experience that same reality—giving of ourselves and then receiving something back, but better and transformed.  At times, our focus can be solely on what we are receiving, but that is a narrowed vision of what Mass is meant to be.

Fr. Joe once wrote a column in “In the Know with Fr. Joe” about the importance of going to Mass, and he wrote this:

“My friend Father Geoff always points out that no one goes to their grandpa’s birthday party asking, “What am I going to get out of this?” They go to the birthday party because they love Grandpa.  In the same way, our primary reason for going to Mass cannot be, “What am I going to get out of this?” Instead, it should be, “What can I give in the midst of this?” The radical gift of the whole experience is this: When we surrender our need to make this about what we get from it, we’ll receive more than we could ever ask or imagine.” https://faithmag.com/whats-point-going-church

I once heard someone say that what is done daily will be done dully if not done deeply.  So can be our experience of Mass.  A way to enter more fully into the Mass is to understand why Mass is the way it is.  Many of us growing up Catholic have had parts of the Mass explained at one time or another, but perhaps not fully or recently.  It is my sincere hope that this will help each of us enter into and pray the Mass more fully!

 

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 29 2019

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s Families,

This week, September 30-October 3rd (Monday-Thursday) Fr. Tomy and I will be gone for the annual priest convocation.  We will not have daily Masses those days.  Please pray for us this week!

A question we all have is how to build our relationship with Jesus.  When that phrase comes up- “personal relationship with Jesus” does that describe my own relationship with Him?  This is after all the basis of what it means to be Christian.  Before anything else we are called to be with Him and then from that relationship we go out and serve. Periodically then we need to participate in encounter opportunities- events where we can go and encounter Jesus and His love in a personal, life changing way.  I want to strongly encourage two opportunities coming up in October.

First is the women’s conference- https://www.lansingdiocesecwc.org/.  This will take place on Saturday, October 12th at the Lansing Center in Lansing Michigan. Here is a brief testimony shared by Becky after attending a previous women’s conference:

“Becky had anticipated a quiet day of speakers and reflection. Instead, the day’s events thrust her into a very emotional and unexpected awakening. Until the conference, she hadn’t realized what a box she had built around her heart due to all the stress she was experiencing. “During the conference, it was like the protective shell I erected was cracked. Prior to this day, I thought I had to be in control and do it alone. I suddenly realized I have this partner – God – to help me get through everything.”

The theme, God’s Desire, was palpable throughout the day and wedged into her heart. “My life had been so focused on everything going on around me that I hadn’t thought about myself or spent a lot of time with God. I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t a good enough mother, wife or daughter. I was frustrated that I didn’t have enough focus for each aspect of my life.” Becky became unshackled from her negative self-talk. She came to understand God’s loving desire was to have an active relationship with her. “Since the women’s conference, I have conversations with God every day. I listen and reflect. Now when I wake up, before I even get out of bed, I pray for God’s guidance to get me through my day.”” https://faithmag.com/how-womens-conference-changed-beckys-life-good

The second opportunity is Holy Fire great Lakes which in Bowling Green Ohio on Sunday, October 13th. https://nfcym.org/holyfiregreatlakes.

Holy Fire is a national Catholic one-day faith experience for middle school youth, developed in collaboration with a host diocese and nearby regions. Its mission is to ignite the hearts of young people with the love of Christ and to inspire them to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world.

I encourage you to send your 6-8th grader to this one-day experience of dynamic speakers, music, and the sacrament of the Eucharist like they have never before experienced. At Holy Fire, young people will be invited and challenged to embrace their baptismal call and embrace the relevant and powerful gospel of Jesus.

These opportunities are transformative.  Whenever we intentionally set aside time for the Lord, He will respond by giving us grace and strength in ways we cannot imagine.  (FYI- the Men’s conference is in February)

 

God Bless!

Fr. Todd

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, September 22 2019

Our readings this weekend are challenging.  They point out that one day we will be called to present to God an accounting of our stewardship, the ways in which we used our time, talent, and treasure for His Kingdom.

 

This weekend is a good reminder of our call to arms in both the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.  Part of our stewardship of the life God gives us is by how we give it away to those who need it the most.

 

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

  • To instruct the ignorant. This work of mercy means all of us are called to share and teach the faith passed on to us.
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish the sinner
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead

The Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Visit the sick
  • Visit the imprisoned
  • Bury the dead

 

We have many opportunities for both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our own parish and communities. We have the Hudson Ministerial Association and Food Pantry, and the Food Pantry at St. Mary on the Lake. We have parishioners who visit and bring Communion to the homebound.  On a regional level, we have Catholic Charities and all of their good work.

 

The Diocese of Lansing is hosting a “Welcome the Stranger Among Us” Conference – Pastoral Care of Immigrants on Friday, October 11th from 8:30-3:30.  For more information or to purchase a ticket, please go to this website: https://www.eventbee.com/v/welcomethestranger#/tickets

 

I know it can seem daunting when we see a list like this.  Don’t be discouraged!  See if the Holy Spirit is nudging you on one or more of them and then say yes.  Such is to be a good steward of this life Jesus gives us.

 

God Bless,

Fr. Todd