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March 25 is the Feast of the Annunciation. Today, Fr. Ken offers his spiritual thoughts & reflection
Our weekend Mass is celebrated by Fr. Bob and includes intentions from last weekend through this weekend (based on those available at the time of recording). If you would like refer to the readings to read along, click here.
Note: None of us were very prepared for our new reality. Just like you are adjusting, we will also be adjusting and working to improve the quality of our future streams and recorded Masses. We felt it was most important to be able see the church and hear from Fr. Bob to try our best to keep you connected to your faith and St. Cletus Church. Thank you for your patience while we work to improve this resource as we all pray for hope, health, and healing.
We felt it was important for parishioners to be able to see the church and hear from our parish priests on the Feast of St. Joseph. The stream was pre-recorded earlier in the week.
Honoring the “stay at home” order from the governor, the church is shutdown at least until the order is lifted.
This order includes closing down daily, private prayer.
For more information on how this order and coronavirus affects the parish, please click below:
Green Bay, Wisconsin
June 14th – 19th, 2020
This summer, we will be going on an out of state mission trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin through Young Neighbors in Action. YNIA is run through the Center for Ministry Development. Go here to see what you can expect from YNIA and here to see how YNIA works.
Who: Current freshman through seniors in high school. We have space for 10 teens and 1 male adult, with more spaces that can be added if more than 10 teens are interested in participating. For every 5 teens YNIA requires 1 adult, therefore the addition of teens will require additional adults as well.
Cost: The mission trip will cost $500 per teen. We are asking for a $250 deposit, and the rest we will attempt to cover through fundraising efforts. If we do not reach our fundraising goals, there may be added costs later on.
We will have pre-trip meetings starting in April, in order to discuss fundraising for the mission trip. Additional meetings will involve formation as a group and what to expect on our mission trip.
Here you will find a general schedule for the week. Note: there is NO sightseeing scheduled as part of the mission trip.
If you have any questions about this mission trip, or about others through our sharing parishes if you are not available for this trip, please contact MaryClaire Zurowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up, fill out and sign the registration form and the code of behavior (there are separate ones for teens and adults). Turn these in to the St. Cletus Parish Center Office with a $250 deposit to secure your spot on the mission trip.
Baptism of The Lord Homily Cycle A Jan 11/12 2020
I love telling jokes and when I hear a good one I tell it often – and with the repeated telling it gets embellished, and in my opinion – better.
However, Marlene who likely has heard the joke several times before usually rolls her eyes and says “Just get to the punch line will you?”
The reason I mention this is that in Advent we started Cycle A of the church’s three year Sunday liturgy and we’re hearing Matthew’s Gospel.
Now both Matthew and Luke had the great advantage of having Mark’s available to them as they wrote theirs.
So we will hear or read Matthew referencing Prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures which Jesus along – with his Mother Mary and Joseph – fulfil.
He adds to events written in Mark, embellishing and providing evidence and connections to those Hebrew Scriptures which we now refer to as the Old Testament.
Last week for Epiphany he quotes “And you, Bethlehem… from you shall come a ruler and shepherd to my people Israel”
Or the Prior week – Feast of the Holy Family – “Out of Egypt I called my son – He shall be called a Nazorean”.
For this reason The Gospel of Matthew is often called “The Gospel of the Church!” – It is the only Gospel that uses the word “Church” in its narrative, three times actually.
Matthew brings together the Old and the New to make the story of Christ’s life so compelling that we may believe and never doubt that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
So you see a worthy embellishment of a story (or a joke ) is a good thing!!
Now getting back to the Gospel according to Matthew today!
Matthew tells us that at Christ’s Baptism – by John, the Heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and a voice came from the Heavens proclaiming:
“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED”
But John was “Baptizing for repentance and the forgiveness of sins”
This seems very odd because Jesus was sinless!!
Indeed we heard about the exchange between John and Jesus – John telling Jesus he should be baptizing him.
But you see God’s purpose was to reveal Christ’s identity to John and the crowds – in a way that would leave no doubt in their minds who Jesus was, is and ever will be. THE SON OF GOD!!
Matthew writes that Jesus response was “ Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for US to fulfill all righteousness” – meaning – what had indeed been prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures was fulfilled with Christ’s baptism.
Here again we have Matthew connecting Jewish Scriptural prophecy with the events in the life of Jesus.
In this moment as Jesus was Baptised by John – God sanctifies the very act of Baptism – With Water and The Holy Spirit.
The early definition of Baptism, when translated from the latin is;
“ The Gateway to Spiritual Life”
It is a dying of a former way of life – now living for God and in the ways His Son taught us.
In the Second reading today, from Acts, we heard that Peter preached how after God had anointed Jesus at his Baptism – he went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil – for God was with him!!
And as a side note – while not included in today’s reading from Acts – God has revealed to Peter – thru Jesus – that baptism is for all and being the first equal opportunist he Baptises Cornelius – a Roman Centurion – the first Gentile to be baptized!!
So Christ’s Baptism was the start of his very public profile and earthly ministry!!
And so as we end the Christmas season this weekend and begin ordinary time on Monday we are meant to absorb the importance of Baptism –
The gateway to Spiritual Life and the subsequent Sacraments.
Since I was ordained some 7 ½ years ago I’ve been privileged to baptize over 300 infants here at St Cletus.
I tell the parents that these precious little ones are being baptized into the Catholic faith which brings with it an awesome responsibility for them.
Firstly I explain its called faith because it means believing what we cannot see, touch, prove, experience and we are expected by virtue of our own Baptism to live by the teachings of Christ and His Church and raise these little ones accordingly.
Secondly, Baptism is a great start to their children’s lives BUT it’s only the start, because it will then be up to the parents and family to affirm this faith by their example.
I don’t actually say “That means regular attendance at Mass because I hope they can make that connection” but such attendance is critical for the child’s well being!!
Why Critical ?
Well – Let me summarise an article in the Wall Street Journal about a month ago entitled “DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD ? LIE TO YOUR CHILDREN”
It was written by Erica Komisar – A therapist dealing with children and young adults suffering from depression and anxiety.
She explained one of the most important explanations for the incidence of mental health issues among this age group today – and perhaps the most neglected – is the declining interest in religion, which has already proved disastrous for millions of vulnerable young people.
She quoted a 2018 study by Harvard University which looked at how being raised in a family with religious or spiritual beliefs affects children’s mental health.
The result – Children or teens who reported attending a religious service once a week scored higher on psychological well being tests and had lower risks for mental illness. Additionally they had higher rates of volunteering, a sense of mission, forgiveness and lower probabilities of drug use and early sexual initiation.
Sadly as we know attendance at formal religious services continues to decline and indeed a recent American Family survey found almost 50% of adults under age 30 don’t identify with any religion!
Such nihilism is the fodder for anxiety and depression.
And so to the title of the article!
Erica notes that when asked by parents how they should talk to their children about death when they don’t believe in God – She tells them – Lie!!
Yes break the 9th Commandment !!
Because, she notes, a belief in Heaven and life after death helps them grapple with tremendous and incomprehensible loss – and in an age of broken families, distracted parents, school violence, the latest TV news – such imagination helps them cope.
I encourage you to get this message out to your families and friends with young children whose attendance at a religious service has lapsed – and if their children have been baptized it’s actually what they signed up for after all.
And they don’t need to take my word for it – tell them to read the science.
In conclusion –
1) Children and young people benefit greatly, both emotionally and spiritually from being a part of a family that regularly attends a religious service.
2) Just as Baptism began Christ’s ministerial life and journey on earth, so it begins our spiritual life and journey towards the sacraments.
3) Embellishing a story (or joke) can be a very good thing as Matthew clearly demonstrates with his Gospel writings.
Article URL referenced in homily: https://www.wsj.com/articles/dont-believe-in-god-lie-to-your-children-11575591658
A few weeks ago Marlene & I went on a trip to England & Ireland, the highlight of which was a pilgrimage to the “Knock Shrine” – Full title being “The Shine of Our Lady of Knock, The Queen of Ireland”
Marlene had, for sometime, felt drawn to visit this Marian Apparition site but wasn’t sure why, however, the pull was irresistible and so we went. It would be fair to say that “Our Lady of Knock” is a lesser known Apparition relative to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe (see later ) but nonetheless of very great significant, especially to the people of Ireland.
A brief history of the Apparition at Knock Co. Mayo, Ireland
On the evening of Thursday August 21, 1879, at around 8.00pm,( it was raining heavily – imagine that in Ireland !!), when Mary Byrne and Mary MCloughlin, who were walking home came upon an amazing sight, it stopped them in their tracks. Mary Byrne ran home to tell others who also gathered to view the miraculous site on the gable end of the parish church. It was the Apparition of Our Lady together with St. Joseph and St John the Evangelist and a Lamb on an altar suspended by angels behind which was a large cross.
Various accounts, 15 individuals in total, were recorded by a Commission of Enquiry which concluded that the testimonies were valid. It is recorded that this small group of people knelt in prayer, in the pouring rain for two hours.
They individually told the commission that Mary, who stood a few feet above the ground as with the whole apparition, was wearing a white cloak fastened to the neck and a brightly lit crown with a single rose.
More details are available but suffice to say that all witnesses noted in spite of the weather, the area of the apparition remained completely dry.and bathed in golden light.
A few interesting facts about this apparition
- The only one in which Mary was accompanied.
- Mary did not speak or communicate a message
- Mary appeared at a terrible time in Ireland’s history – failed potato crops, famine and starvation.
- As with other apparitions she appeared to poor and suffering.
The reason seems obvious – she wanted to encourage the people of Ireland, predominantly Catholic, in their struggles. At this time Ireland was part of Great Britain and much of the country was owned by absentee “British” landowners. Most cared little for their Irish tenants, only that they paid the rent in a timely fashion, regardless of the impact of the seasons on their crops. This led to the truly miserable conditions eloquently described by Tom Neary in Chapters 1 & 2 of his book “I Saw Our Lady”.
Some forty years later Ireland would be divided into Catholic South and Protestant North and I would suggest that the Mary’s Apparition gave the Irish Catholics the impetus to separate from mainland Britain, and although this is my personal view – t it seems consistent with facts and circumstances of the events in Knock, Co Mayo, Ireland some 140 years ago.
The opening lines of the “Prayer of our Lady of Knock” are:
Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland,
you gave hope to your people in a time of distress
and comforted them in sorrow
As Marlene & I reflected on our visit, Marlene said she believed she felt now she understood that she was drawn to Knock and given a mission to tell the story which is so little known (outside Ireland).
So this is the first part of that mission – enjoy.
Second Part – We are considering taking a group to Ireland for a week or so next September, the highlight of which will be a pilgrimage to Knock Shrine. If you are interested please email me at email@example.com or call my cell phone 630 842 3967.
Blessings – Dcn Stuart & Marlene
As I was preparing my homily my mind kept wandering back to the word CHASM.
One thought was of a Golf Hole on some golf course, somewhere in AZ that I played that was named THE CHASM – you had to hit your ball over it – a distance of a little more than a football field. No problem for these guys on TV – a little more intimidating for the likes of me.
From what I observed the Chasm devoured golf balls with voracity.
A second thought was the meaning of the word Chasm – any dictionary will offer a number of definitions e.g.
Gorge, Abyss, Canyon, Ravine, as in nature OR
Division, Gulf, Separation, Schism, Disunion, Breach, as in human nature, personal relationships, religion or politics.
So what about this GREAT CHASM that Christ talked about in His parable.
It divided Heaven and Hell – the netherworld ?
So clearly quite a bit wider than the Golf hole in AZ or indeed any Gorge or Canyon on Earth.
But the Rich Man, from his very tormented position could communicate and see Abraham in Heaven with Lazarus.
So this CHASM that Our Lord refers to in this parable is neither measured in distance nor in Human relationship terms BUT in the Spiritual Vacuum that separates-
those who live this life for their own self gratification – From those who live it for others.
Moreover – We have three Chasms in the One Parable:
1) The Chasm between Heaven and the netherworld.
2) The Chasm between the Rich and Poor
3) The Chasm between those who believe in Christ and act accordingly and those that don’t.
Let me return to the Chasm between Heaven and hell later because first I’d like to address the Second Chasm between the Rich man and Lazasrus:
The truly awful aspect of the Rich man’s behaviour is:
Not that he is lavishly dressed or
Is Gluttonous or indeed
That he lives in opulence – like those in Zion in the first reading who led on beds of ivory, ate and drank excessively – No the thing that Christ draws our attention to, is this.
The Rich man actually knows the starving, sore ridden, beggar who was at his door BY NAME – LAZARUS
From his tormented situation in the netherworld he cries out to Abraham – “send Lazarus….”
We can assume therefore that he has passed him by on many occasions and ignored him.
Knowing another’s name is an important aspect of any relationship, it offers a chance for intimacy / conversation – even a relationship.
But for the Rich man such knowledge was irrelevant – Lazarus was a beggar and he, the Rich man was too busy is his own self pursuit of hedonistic pleasures to bother with him
He violated Lazarus’s personal dignity in a cruel fashion !!!
UNTIL he dies and finds himself tormented in hell and he sees him with Abraham.
Now the Rich man begs for some relief – but its not forthcoming – The Chasm cannot be crossed!!
Then he asks Abraham to send Lazarus as Christs messenger to warn his family of what awaits them if they live as he did and do not repent.
And Abraham’s response :They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them!!”
But the Rich man persists “… but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent”
And how does Abraham reply “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead” REPEAT THIS!!
Not only is Jesus foretelling His own destiny but he refers also to the fact that he raised from the dead – the widow’s son at Nain, Jairus’s daughter and of course
Mary and Martha’s brother – also called Lazarus -incidentally the name Lazarus is derived from the Hebrew Eleazar – meaning “God has helped.”
Which brings me to the Chasm between the Believers in the Risen Christ and those who don’t.
When I conduct baptisms I note how the Parents, Godparents and family are given the responsibility to raise the baptised infants in Our Faith – And faith means believing what we do not, cannot, have not personally experienced – UNLIKE the men and women who lived and travelled with Jesus two thousand years ago.
Most of us here today have a blessed and privileged life compared to the vast majority around the world – The average median annual income, globally, is around $10.000 –
How we use our good fortune – to reach out to the poor, disadvantaged, sick, imprisoned etc. – or not – determines on which side of the eternal Chasm we will find ourselves.
In our lives Lazarus maybe the guys who cut your grass, or cleans your car, picks the produce you buy, avail themselves of our food pantry, picks up your trash, puts a new roof on your home, etc. etc.
Do we reach out to them?
Do we make an effort to find out their names? If so what do we do then?
How we act to those in need will be the criterion by which we are judged, not by merely attending mass and receiving Jesus.
However it is the very act of receiving Christ – “The Real Presence” that should conform us in the manner in which we treat the Lazarus’s we encounter in our lives.
So let me conclude by reviewing the three Chasms
1) The Chasm between those who believe in the Risen Christ and act as He taught us and those that don’t.
Believing means more than mass attendance – At the end of mass a Deacon has four options to dismiss yourselves.
Most often I will use the Words
Go in peace Glorifying the Lord by your life
Which brings me to the second Chasm
2) The Chasm between the Rich and Poor
We are to accept the blessings God has graciously bestowed upon us and reach across this chasm, and use these gifts to help the Lazarus’s of this world. It is what Christ calls us to do, it is our faith, it is our duty.
And of course the third chasm within Christ’s parable:
3) The Chasm between Heaven and Hell – the netherworld.
If we live our earthly lives on the right side of the first Chasm, accept our good fortune to be on the affluent side of the second and act accordingly – then – we will indeed live our eternal life on the Heavenly side of the greatest Chasm.
And as the Choir sings at our funeral masses
“May Choirs of angels welcome you and lead you to the bosom of Abraham: and where Lazarus is poor no longer, may you find eternal rest!”