Pastor’s Pen – March 29, 2010

Published on 29. Mar, 2010 by in Pastor's Pen

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A mini-retreat…

As we approach the great feast of Easter, I find myself grateful for the “high holy days’ of the Church – the Easter Triduum. Though we celebrate these days each year, there is something them which make them ‘ever ancient, ever new’. This entire Holy Week is meant to be lived at a different pace, a retreat kind of pace.

We take the days in measure, spending even more time in prayer, more time in reflection, and perhaps, even more time in service of our brothers and sisters.

So among the concrete practices that can help us to enter these days, let me suggest perhaps a strange one. WALK SLOWER. Yep! You heard me. Walk Slower. Let the pace of these days gradually decrease until you are still enough to enter the mystery of the dying and rising of Jesus.

And then, carve out time to celebrate the story in prayer and ritual. Here is the schedule of our Liturgical prayer for the Triduum.

Holy Thursday

  • 8:00 a.m. Morning Prayer
  • 10:00 a.m. Chrism Mass (at the Cathedral)
  • 7:00 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Adoration begins after Mass and continues until:

  • 11:30 p.m. Night Prayer

Good Friday

  • 8:00 am: Morning Prayer
  • 3:00 pm: Stations of the Cross
  • 7:00 pm: Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Holy Saturday

  • 8:00 am: Morning Prayer
  • 8:00 pm: Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday

  • 8:00 a.m. Mass
  • 11:00 a.m. Mass

Please join the church as it goes on our yearly mini-retreat in preparation for Easter.

In unrelated news, Pat Boul left this past Friday with the CRUDEM Foundation to Haiti. He’ll be bringing his maintenance expertise to the makeshift hospitals being used to service Haiti’s needy. And Jenna Kloepfer left for Marine boot camp on March 21. Keep them both in your prayers

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I stopped by my mom’s house the other day, to sort through some papers while she is recovering from her broken arm. As I drove to the house, I could see the old lot between the houses in the curve of the road. It got me to remembering. I remember that the third base fowl line was a tree in the outfield, and it was very difficult on some fly balls that dropped in to tell if it was fair or fowl. And we’d argue. Sometimes there was a disagreement whether the runner was safe or out. So we’d argue. Sometimes, underneath that pile of bodies, it was hard to tell if the football actually got across the invisible goal line between the fence and the tree. Both sides press their case. After a lot of arguing and shouting and disagreements, the initial energy would calm down a bit. And then someone would say those magic words: “Do-over.” Replay the hit. Replay the down. Do the play over. And we’d all know: “Of course- it is the only way… DO OVER”

Wouldn’t you love to have the power of do-over’s as an adult? You mess up on a huge project and the boss says: “No problem, you get a do-over.” You say something stupid to your spouse/significant other in a moment of anger – they look at you and you realize what you’ve done – and they say: “Let’s back up 5 minutes, you go out the door, and walk in as if it is the first time. You get a do-over.

Two sets of people needed do-over’s in today’s gospel. The woman certainly needed a do-over. According to Mosaic law, she was not long for this earth, even while her male counterpart walked free. The Pharisees pushed and shoved her in front of the crowd, and they made her ‘stand there’ – they held her there – in her sin, in her shame, in their self righteous anger. And if she somehow survived the next moments, she would always be the one caught in the act of adultery. Her past would mark her future forever. Even now, the gospel story is not entitled “The Forgiven Woman” but “The Woman Caught in Adultery”. She needed a major do-over.

But the other group that needed a do-over today was ‘the mob’ – all those who had brought the woman before Jesus. They didn’t care about her – she was collateral damage, an after thought. (If they really were concerned about the Mosaic law, they would have brought the man as well) She was the instrument to get to Jesus. SHE was invisible to that crowd – except as a tool to be used.

So what does Jesus do? Like our neighborhood kids in the sandlot, he lets the energy cool down. He drops to his knees and writes with his finger in the ground. Though the gospel writers do not record the words, we do know that God is the only one who writes with his finger in the Hebrew Testament. So when Jesus writes with his finger, besides letting the energy cool down, he’s saying what is coming next is something that comes from the heart of God. And then he stands and says equivalently: DO-OVER.

To the mob – Jesus invites them to see this woman as one of them – to embrace her as one of their own. “Let the one without sin cast the first stone” – don’t be about judging, but see the common humanity you share. Know that her sin is no different from yours – no more or less in need of punishment then your own hardness of heart. “Stand with her…” Not in condemnation. That is what he wants of them. That is what he hopes for them – that they would love this woman. “Woman, where are they?” – is a sad statement from Jesus’ lips. He had hoped they would stand with her.

To the woman, he holds out a new possibility. He doesn’t deny her actions, doesn’t ask if she was sorry, doesn’t demand a perfect act of contrition and dole out a harsh penance. He simply gives her the possibility of a new future. “Go and sin no more.” Not: Go and be racked with guilt and ponder and be a mess – just – go and begin your life. I give it back to you to start anew. DO OVER.

We know we cannot go back and change the laws of time and physics, we cannot undo the action we have done or others have done. But in the realm of how we respond to what we’ve and others have done, we have huge possibilities of offering do-over’s.

You see, there is a third group that Jesus is speaking to in today’s gospel story. To you and I who struggle with forgiveness of self or the forgiveness of another – Jesus holds out the same offer. “You are not what you have done. They are not what they have done.” Though we clutch those stones of judgment, there is always a more, always a deeper possibility, always a new beginning that the divine mercy holds out to us. Don’t hold yourself in the past. It is done. Don’t put your spouse or friend or the image you see in the mirror in the middle of the circle of your life and stand there with stone in hand ready to crucify them for their failing. Hear the invitation of Jesus: ‘Neither do I condemn you…”

This week the gospel invites us to reflect on two questions: Who stands in the middle of your life – wondering if it is to be the stone that they will know from you – or hoping that you’ll grant them a much needed do-over? And when you look at that face in the mirror, what within you stands in the middle, ready to be judged, not with mercy, but harshly, with condemnation? Give yourself what Jesus gave to the woman and the crowd in the gospel – a chance to do it over again, a chance to get it right.

DO OVER!

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Pastor’s Pen – March 21, 2010

Published on 21. Mar, 2010 by in Pastor's Pen

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Generosity…

You may know the Knights of Columbus for their tootsie roll drive for the mentally handicapped or their roses for life or the carnations they offer on Mothers Day. At St. Ann, you also know them as the folks who are selling the scrip coupons in the back of church, or ice cream at the parish picnic. What you do not see is their charitable nature. Quietly, behind the scenes, they do a lot to help this parish.

I want to thank them in your name for their recent generosity to the parish. They provided the stipend we gave to Mrs. Heather Vento who spoke to our parents as a part of our Family Life program. They helped defray the costs of a hymnal for the children – replacing the “Singing our Faith” with “Choose Christ”. They are helping to subsidize the upcoming Confirmation Retreat for our 7th and 8th grade students preparing for the sacrament. And like many of you, they are also a Sponsor to the St. Ann Dinner Dance. In your name, let me say a heartfelt THANK YOU from a grateful parish…

Bob Beckring and I attended an orientation meeting for the upcoming Annual Catholic Appeal on Tuesday night. Though it seems like we just finished last year’s appeal (that was in August) and recently completed the Visitation Drive, as well as the hugely successful Faith for the Future Campaign (thanks again for your amazing generosity), on a parish level, we begin planning for the appeal which begins in about a month. The success of the appeal is only brought about through prayer. This year’s theme is “Do this in memory of me.” In the video Archbishop Carlson said: If we pray about it, we are asking God: “What does God want to do in the world through me?” If we listen for the response, then how can the appeal not succeed – because we’re doing what God wants us to do.”

So I ask you to begin to pray about this year’s appeal. Here is the ‘official prayer’ of the ACA..

Lord God,

We thank you for the untold blessings You have bestowed upon us. We offer these blessings back to you.
We lay before You the labors and fruits of the Annual Catholic Appeal. We pray that our sole desire be to serve Your holy will.
United as Catholics, let us be reminded
of our baptismal call to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in His service to others.
We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord. Amen


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News Post Sample

Published on 20. Mar, 2010 by in News

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What if the two sons in today’s gospel were optometrists? I wonder what kind of glasses they think their father needed, or what kind they hoped he was wearing?

In the beginning of the story, the younger son is thinking that his dad needs to be corrected for his nearsightedness. He can only see this small world at the end of his nose. He doesn’t feel the need to travel, to experience all the amazing things that are out there in this world. “There is so much more out there and dad will never understand that, because he can’t see that. He can’t see anything past the end of the road that defines the limits of his world. I am so trapped here, so stifled here. I’ve got to get away. I’ve got to see all the things that LIFE has to offer.” And to his credit, the father lets his son have his way. If you must see what is beyond these familiar boundaries, then explore you must…

And so the father watches him as he disappears where the pavement meets the horizon, where the dust of the road melds into the haziness of hot days. And there, the Father’s gaze remains. Each day. Every day. Looking to that farthest end of the horizon, because he knows what the road will do to those who believe life only happens out there.

The older son believes that his dad eyes needs to be corrected for his farsightedness. Everyday, as he goes out to the fields to tend the flocks and work the ground and till the soil, he sees his father, sitting there on the porch, with his eyes only on the end of the road. Looking only on the distant horizon – watching for the son who does not come. “Who am I” he thinks? “Chopped liver? How come he doesn’t SEE ME? How come he isn’t looking down the road to these fields and waiting for me each night when I come home, and welcoming me and letting me know how much he loves ME – the faithful one? He needs reading glasses to see what is here before him.”

Things change for the youngest son. There among the pigs, with his stomach growling and heart empty, the younger son realizes he had it all wrong. “I want my dad to be farsighted. No I NEED him to be farsighted – to be looking down the road for me – eyes on that horizon for me – because it is the only way I’ll have a chance.” Maybe, he things, he’ll be looking down the road and I’ll get a chance to say how wrong I was and how stupid I was, and though he won’t be able to see me as a son, at least he’ll be able to see me on the horizon to take me in. Please let him be farsighted, O God! “I need you to be farsighted, dad!”

And when the younger son returns and the party is going on, and the older son is remaining in the fields, and his dad come to talk to him, all of his anger comes out. “I have been with you all these years and never once did you give me …anything! I’ve been here right under your nose, and yet where is the appreciation for all I’ve done, for all I’ve given you? You can’t even see what is right beneath you. YOU need glasses dad. Bad. Real bad.” You’ve been looking down that road every day since that no good son of yours left so much that you can’t see what’s right in front of you. “I need you to be nearsighted.”

And in one of those wonderful reversals that the gospels are famous for, it turns out that the Father is the eye doctor – offering to both his sons the corrective lens that THEY need. And it turns out that the ‘glasses’ the sons thought their father should be wearing said more about them than it ever did their father.

To the younger son – “Put the ring on his finger, the cloak on his back, sandals on his feet.” All of those are cultural signs in the world of Jesus that denote the status of ‘son’ in a family. “Let HIM see himself as MY SON. Not a worker, not someone who has failed miserably, not even as an unworthy sinner – but as MY SON.” See beyond the failures that you are most present to right before your eyes and see the deeper truth on the horizon. You are my son who was lost and now is found. “I don’t need you to see your faults – I know them, you know them. Don’t get trapped there. See beyond them to my love. “I need you to be farsighted.”

To the older son: “All I have is yours. It’s always been. My love is always there for you. Don’t you get it? But put on these glasses to see what your anger has blinded you from seeing – this “son of mine” as you call him is also YOUR BROTHER. Learn to rejoice that he has come home. Learn to see what has always been right before your eyes – but you couldn’t see – he is yours, I am yours – TOGETHER we are a family. I need you to see what is right in front of you. I need you to be nearsighted!

And you – what kind of prescription are you hoping that God is wearing these days? Do you hope he is a bit farsighted, overlooking YOUR FLAWS, your mistakes, your sinfulness? Do you demand that he be nearsighted, that he notice you for all your hard work, all your faithful church attendance, all the good things YOU have done? Or perhaps, do you pray that he has lineless bifocals – like these (show my own glasses) – that allow him to see both your younger son wanderings and your elder son resentments? Do you hope God can see both near and far in your complicated life to hold all the opposites and failures and successes together?

This week, will you pray to God that he fix YOUR seeing of this world according to His vision, and not the other way around?

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Pastor’s Pen – March 14, 2010

Published on 14. Mar, 2010 by in Pastor's Pen

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Of many things…

The painters are working in church even as I write this. Dave Marstall oversaw the caulking of some of the flashing where the water was seeping in on the east wing of the church, and that area has been dry for several months. The church roof has two small spots where we know water seeps in just a bit, one visible and the other not. Some well placed buckets easily contain those threats until we can add a little tar to the affected area above. The rest of the water spots in the main ceiling of the church came from tiny leaks in the horizontal drainage pipes that channel the water from the flat roof, out toward Natural Bridge and then down into the drainage pipes along side of church. Those are the spots that are being repainted today. Some well placed thick plastic sheeting should allow any further ‘drips’ to be contained until the water simply evaporates away. Thanks again to Dave Marstall for keeping up on the ongoing major maintenance areas in and around our parish plant.

I have seen George Schrader’s blue truck out in the cemetery already this season, a surer sign of spring than the return of the robins. George oversees a crew led by Bob Beckring, John Schulte, Pat Williams, David Ruth, Norm Jacobs and a few other volunteers who do a wonderful job keeping our cemetery in fabulous shape. Pat Williams was out the other day, top filling a plot as the earth ‘resettles’ from the grave opening. This group is always looking for additional help. Anyone who wishes to donate time and energy to cutting grass, trimming, picking up sticks, and general maintenance of the cemetery can contact Bob Beckring at their earliest convenience.

The Sponsor’s Dinner Dance committee is in full swing, soliciting Sponsors, lining up donations, sending out mailings and invitations, getting the raffle tickets out, etc. A huge thank you goes to Cheri Smith and Kay Dieckmann, the co-chairs for the event once again this year. And thanks to all the people who work closely with them on the various committees. We are gearing up for another wonderful and hopefully financially successful event on April 24th.

Finally, just a word of thanks to Sr. Celine who does such an amazing job keeping the church clean and the floors shining. Though she’ll say it is the wax she puts down that does the trick, I think it’s the praying she does while working that makes all the difference.

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