Fr. Todd Bulletin, February 16, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

I had another nephew born this past week, little Matthew.  He is the 11th grandbaby, with number 12 to be born at the end of March.  What a joy!  With every grandchild, my family has a betting pool: the one who guesses the right gender and closest to the right day and time wins $25.  After 11 tries, I have consistently struck out, so I guess I will have to stay away from Fire Keepers!

Fr. Tomy is returning this week (although there won’t be Mass on Monday the 17th).  With him coming back, I am promptly taking off for my annual priest retreat (Monday through Friday).  It is a blessing that Canon Law mandates every priest should take an annual retreat—otherwise, even with the best of intentions, it probably wouldn’t happen.  Please pray for me this week that I can have an open heart and receive all the graces the Lord wants to give.  I will be praying for you all.

Making time for prayer can be much like a retreat: unless we work at making it happen, even with the best of intentions it very easily won’t happen.  Throughout the Gospels, we hear accounts like this one from Mark 1:35: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

These stories have always been an inspiration for me because it shows that Jesus Himself had to work at making time for prayer.  Even for Him, building in prayer time meant sacrifice and, at times, inconvenience.  A few verses before this one (Mark 1:32) details what Jesus’ evening before getting up very early looked like: “When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.”

As someone who rather enjoys sleeping, this story can make me wince.  It means that Jesus had a short night, yet still considered getting up early after having been up late the night before worth doing to spend time with His Heavenly Father.  There go my excuses!  At different times, it has been this account that has helped me set the alarm for the early hour wake up after a night that went longer than I wanted.

This does not mean that the only time to pray is the early morning.  What it does point to, though, is the importance of fighting for our prayer time. At times it really will be a fight, and a sacrifice, and very possibly inconvenient.  And that time with God is always worth it.  Don’t be afraid to get creative with prayer times and places.  I know of people whose prayer place is the parking lot outside of work, or the laundry room.  One person I met while offering Mass at the local jail had a comb that he used as a rosary since he couldn’t have an actual rosary: he would count off the decades on the teeth by breaking every 11th one to mark the transition between mysteries.

As we draw closer to Lent, let us consider the Lord’s call to prayer and His desire to be with us.  Look for those ways to fight for prayer time!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Principal Anne Atkin Bulletin, February 16, 2020

Get used to lifting your heart to God, in acts of thanksgiving, many times a day. Because he gives you this and that. Because you have been despised. Because you haven’t what you need or because you have. Thank him for everything, because everything is good.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

 

When we forget to thank God

Gratitude is so simple. We are beginning a closer look at the virtue of gratitude during morning prayer. Our theme for the rest of February is to thank God for everything. The students have an easy time thanking God. They are grateful for friends, family, freedom, school, Catholic faith, snow days, etc. They are generally happy children who have wonderful families. These children have been blessed.

Yet, there are many times throughout the day that feelings are hurt or the teams are not fair. The work is too hard or I just don’t feel good. The bus ride was too long or I really don’t like English language arts. So and so has better stuff than me or they are given more attention than me. My mood has completely changed and I am not happy. I pout, because the world is not fair and my needs are not being met. Generally, once this mood is in place, it is difficult to change our mind. There really is a simple solution to all of this despair. The answer is too look on the bright side. Realize that things could be so much worse. But unless I really practice gratitude, it is harder than you think.

Gratitude is so basic, yet so necessary. Gratitude places us in correct relationship to God. We take a step closer to God every time we force our brains to recognize that God is trying to reveal Himself in certain parts of our lives. It is easy to be grateful when we win or we are having fun. It is really hard when we feel embarrassed, unworthy, unloved, disappointed or overwhelmed. Gratitude is the antidote to pride. Our pride has been injured. It feels bad. It is in this darkness that we must recognize God’s presence in everything. Pride comes before the fall. That is why we are called to be grateful in our misfortunes. God is omnipotent and all good, so we trust and love Him. We praise Him. We thank Him. For everything!

God is good. All of the time. All of the time. God is Good!

 

God Bless,

Anne Atkin, principal

 

Deacon’s Corner, February 16, 2020

Last month, Bishop Boyea was invited to address the Lansing City Council on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.   He used the occasion to explain the Catholic Church’s teaching on racism.  In case you missed it, I would like to share some of the highlights of what he said here.

Bishop Boyea explained that the intrinsic dignity and worth of each human person is rooted in our common origin in God Almighty.  Our dignity is not something we confer on ourselves or on one another.   Rather, we are endowed with that dignity from our wise and loving Creator.  Because idolizing myself is such an easy thing to do, to make myself the measure of how I view others, racism usually involves suppressing the truth of the nature of the other person.  So, racism becomes a form of idolatry by placing myself in the place of God.  It is a serious sin in violation of the First Commandment.  To fight racism, he said, we must intentionally focus on God, who is the origin and destiny of us all.  This is the foundation for the common dignity of all human beings.

We may wonder why God allowed all these differences among each other in the first place.  Bishop Boyea said, there is no other reason than they can be the opportunity for the exchange of gifts, something that is made possible when we are kind, generous, and open to one another.  He cautions, however, that too often we think that dialogue should always lead to agreement.  It doesn’t.  In fact, part of the exchange of gifts is to hear differences, value them, and recognize that should my views remain, they are never quite the same. Too many of us give up on dialogue simply because we don’t agree with one another. But, as Christians, we are called to listen and know the stories of our brothers and sisters.  So, we must create opportunities to hear, with open hearts, the tragic stories that are deeply imprinted on the lives of our brothers and sisters, if we are to be moved with empathy to promote justice.

Bishop Boyea concluded by saying we are all made in the image of God.  For Christians, this is fundamentally an action of seeking first the Kingdom of God such that all these things will follow (Matthew 6:33).   He said, there is no magic way of achieving all these things.  However, with good hearts, and with an abundance of God’s grace, we can move toward the full recognition of the human dignity of all our brothers and sisters.  In the words of Bishop Boyea:  may God bless us, our community, our state, and our country to reach such a noble goal.

Deacon John

 

Rise Up & Accept the Challenge Men’s Retreat

Accept the Challenge 2020:

Diocese of Lansing Catholic Men’s Conference

Men, come to grow in your faith at the annual Diocese of Lansing’s Catholic Men’s Conference. For years, this conference has been helping Catholic men courageously live a Christ-centered life in today’s world. That’s the most important challenge of our lives. Come and be equipped to ‘Accept the Challenge’ at this year’s men’s conference!

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

When: February 22, 2020

Where: Oosterbaan Field House, 1202 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Time: 9 AM – 6 PM

Early Bird Individual Ticket Prices:

Adults $29 / Students $19 until Dec 31, 2019

 

What to Expect:

  • Motivating messages from Fr. Larry Richards, Bart Schuchts, Dan DeMatte, Fr. Mathias Thelen and Philip Taraska, SFC
  • Adoration and confessions
  • A mouth-watering pig roast BBQ lunch from

Stick-A-Pig-In-It

  • Excellent music
  • Mass with Bishop Boyea (12 PM)

Registrations are now open. For more information or to purchase your tickets, visit www.acceptthechallenge.org

 

Fr. Todd Homily, February 9, 2020

 

This week’s readings urge us a very clear call to action….to be a christian means to do something.

Be Salty…..Stay Salty.

 

GospelMT 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

 

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, February 9, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

Asking the Lord what He wanted this bulletin article to be about, the sense I received was “encouragement.”   Here is what I think that word means for us.

We are now one month into 2020.  It is about this time of the year that we can be tempted to give up New Year’s resolutions or, after stumbling in those resolutions, simply think it isn’t worth getting back into the fight.  Most everyone looks at a new year at its beginning and expects/wants it to be different from the last.  That, after all, is what our resolutions are there to help us with.

The encouragement is: keep on going even if the results are still seemingly insignificant, if the year isn’t unfolding as you had hoped, if the battle seems to have been lost before it ever really began.  Keep on going and get back up if needed.

Israel’s history is dotted with moments like that where they stumbled and fell, but through God’s correction and help, they were able to get back up.  At one point in their history Jerusalem and the Temple, the very heart of their nation, were razed to the ground.  Coming back many years later, they faced the monumental task of restoring and rebuilding the city and particularly the Temple. The Prophet Zechariah conveyed these words from God to a dispirited people and their leader Zerubbabel:   “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 4:9-10).

What Zechariah prophesied did happen—even as impossible as it may have seemed to Zerubbabel himself that he would lay both the cornerstone at its beginning and the capstone at its completion.

Those words of encouragement jump out: Don’t scorn a day of small things, don’t despise small beginnings.  In the life of grace, such small things grow into great ones.  The mustard seed grows into a great tree.  Our small efforts can bear fruit in ways and times we cannot imagine.  As we know from God Himself, He can bring good even out of our stumblings.

So, for all of us as we enter the second month of 2020, may we be encouraged by God Himself to keep on going!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd

 

Principal Anne Atkin Bulletin, February 9, 2020

How do we teach children to be courageous?

Courage comes from the Latin “cor” which translates to heart. My heart. My very unique story, that comes from my heart. It is rooted in love. Courage is a misunderstood word in today’s culture. It is not a conquering of fear in order to win. In fact, truly courageous people feel fear right along with their courage.

Courage is very personal. It begins in a place of vulnerability that is scary, uncertain and exposes our soul. In our lifetime, we will be vulnerable, it is a fact. We cannot avoid illness, public speaking, disappointment, rejection, admitting defeat, death, heartbreak: the list goes on. Life is full of devastating pitfalls. These events leave us exposed and show our true self to the world.  Vulnerability can happen when we least expect it; a devastating diagnosis, an unexpected breakup, a past sin exposed for the world to see, being assigned a task we know we are unequipped to accomplish. These moments of uncertainty are very difficult. We feel raw and we want to cover up, to tuck in, or to run away. We can feel very alone.

The fear of not being able to handle the uncertainty or judgement is frightening. Being vulnerable is so uncomfortable that we can find ourselves making decisions based on our ability to control the situation. As Catholics, we know that we are never completely in control. God is God and we are not God. It is in these moments that true courage exists. When we examine our heart and find that we are enough. When we take stock of our soul and feel it being pulled back to God through His mercy. It is in being courageous and working through these events that we can feel the most alive and feel true joy.

How do we continually live with courage? It is facing our vulnerability with grace and mercy. It is as simple as opening our heart and finding our blessings. People who have the courage to be grateful when they are the most vulnerable are living with their whole heart. They are living with hope. They are comfortable in the uncertainty and can find joy in all situations. This is true courage.

But how do we teach our children about true courage? No one is giving out awards for humility. Courage itself is misunderstood. That is why teaching our children that they are enough to God and that true courage cannot always be seen is our job as parents. What we are after is children who take risks, can handle failure and have the courage to be grateful through all of it. Show up, trust in God, rely on the Holy Spirit and find joy.

Courage is knowing your own heart and leading with love.

God Bless,

Anne Atkin, principal

 

Deacon’s Corner, February 9, 2020

Last week, I stopped by to see our 5th and 6th graders at Sacred Heart School.   A simple visit to say “hello” led to an impromptu session answering their random questions about our faith.  A 5th grader asked me: “Do you have to be Catholic to go to heaven?”   Now, that’s a great question.  So, let’s begin with “What is heaven?”

We all have our own vision of heaven and the joys heaven will contain.   Scripture tells us three things about heaven very clearly:  1) The happiness of heaven is perfect, 2) The happiness of heaven is indescribable and unimaginable, and 3) In heaven, we shall see God face-to-face.  Heaven offers much more than we could ever hope to attain here on earth.  Heaven is the promise to live in eternal joy, in perfect friendship, with the Most Holy Trinity, our Holy Mother Mary, and all the angels and saints.

As followers of Christ, we have been offered this gift of heaven because our souls have been saved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  But, while Jesus offered Himself freely for all people, God was humble enough to allow each of us to choose salvation.  We can choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice and live our life as a child of God, or we can reject it.   As Catholics, we believe that those who die in God’s grace and friendship, those who chose to accept salvation, will reach heaven.

One of the most misunderstood teachings of the Church is that outside the Church there is no salvation.  In other words, all salvation comes from Christ with the Church as His Body (Catechism 846).  While true, it is important to note this does not necessarily apply to those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ.   That’s because we must always remember the great mercy of God.   Anyone who seeks God with a sincere heart and tries in their actions to do His will as they know it may also attain heaven (Catechism 847).  Jesus died for every single person; salvation is meant for everyone.  Anyone who is ignorant of the Gospel, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with their understanding of it, can be saved.

So, in short: no, you do not have to be Catholic to go to heaven.   However, as Catholics, we can never forget our God-given duty to evangelize and make disciples of all people.  We must have the courage to live our life in such a way that emulates the life and love of Jesus.  We must have the courage to speak truth in a time when so many people are afraid of it.  While I am grateful that the salvation of others does not lie in my hands, I am aware that I have a responsibility to help lead others to Christ.   May we pray that our words and actions lead others to come to know Jesus and the hope of eternal happiness in heaven.

Deacon John

 

Fr. Todd Bulletin, February 3, 2020

Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,

It was a blessing this past week to celebrate Catholic Schools Week at Sacred Heart.  We are so blessed with our teachers and students!  If you ever want to be encouraged, come over to Sacred Heart for the school Mass on Fridays at 9am.  Their faith and joy are an inspiration for us all.

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.  It refers to when Mary and Joseph presented the child Jesus in the Temple.  From very early on in the Church, this event has been connected to the imagery of light.  Jesus is the light that has come into the world and darkness does not overcome it.

Because of that symbolism within the Church, candles are a sign of Christ.  We have the Easter candle, which is a symbol of Jesus and the light of faith.  At baptism, children receive a baptismal candle lit from the Easter candle and parents make a promise on behalf of their children to help them keep this light of faith burning brightly.  The Easter candle is used at baptisms and funerals as a sign of the Lord’s presence.

In any Catholic Church throughout the world, a sanctuary light is always kept burning.  This solitary candle is a sign that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle.  At St. Mary’s, this candle is right next to the tabernacle.  At Sacred Heart, this candle is hanging from the ceiling right over the altar.   I personally love to go into the Church when that sole candle provides the only light and spend some time with the Lord.

This feast day can also transform the way we pray part of the rosary.  The 4th joyful mystery is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.  I like to use this decade to pray for people who are perhaps experiencing a time of darkness or are far from God.  Since this mystery celebrates Jesus entering into the Temple, I will often pray for someone and ask Jesus to please enter their hearts and lives just like He entered the Temple in Jerusalem.  If they are experiencing darkness, I will often pray this decade asking Jesus to enter their darkness with His light and bring them hope.

At our Masses, we will bless candles that will be used for Masses and for the blessing of throats for St. Blaise.  St. Blaise’s feast day, and the blessing of throats, is always the day after the Presentation of the Lord.  Since we won’t have Mass that Monday, we will do the blessing of throats Thursday morning at St. Mary’s on the Lake (the 6th) and Friday morning at Sacred Heart (the 7th).

Let us welcome the Lord anew into our lives just like He entered into the Temple!

God Bless,

Fr. Todd