News From the Pastor
From the annals of a Chicago bagpiper…
As a bag piper I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a local funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless Irishman. He had no family or friends and the service was to be held in a paupers’ cemetery in rural Wisconsin. As I was not familiar with the area, I got lost and, being a typical male, I didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived half an hour late and saw that the funeral guy had apparently given up on me and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only two diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went o the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do so I started to play my bagpipe. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played my heart and soul out for this man who had no family or friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless fellow and, as I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I’ve never seen anything like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for over twenty years.” Apparently I’m still lost—it’s a man thing!
Every year on the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist appears in the desert trying to give directions—to the people of his time and to us. Truth be told, not too many listened—then and now. But being a prophetic herald, he kept on directing, even those who had not asked. How would we have responded if we were in that crowd? How do we respond today to his call to repent, his challenge to embrace the kingdom, to his example of simplified living? It’s especially hard during Advent, when we are pulled in so many directions to be ready for Christmas. His voice is still heard, however, even in the midst of hectic lives and for most of us, even a glimpse of what is the reality beneath the madness is soothing and comforting. So let us listen with a new heart and respond with a new energy that John’s message of repentance, simplicity, and humble acknowledgment of Jesus’ coming can grip us all and change our world!
Advent blessings, Fr. Dave
A housewife was having several couples over for dinner that night, so she wanted to cook something special. She slaved for hours that afternoon and finally created a masterpiece—Salmon mousse. Just before her guests arrived, she caught her cat nibbling away at the dish on the dining room table. She had worked so hard that she couldn’t bear to throw the mousse away, so she smoothed it over and served it anyway.
The mousse was a real hit. Everyone took seconds and thirds. Proudly she stood to bring the empty plate back into the kitchen and looked out the window. There, next to the house, lay her cat. Dead. She had to then confess to her guests that she’d served mousse eaten by the cat and now the cat was dead. The entire dinner party rushed to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped. The housewife, who hadn’t eaten any because she knew her cat had, lay in bed mourning the passing of her cat and fearing that the same fate could befall her guests. Then, the phone rang. It was her next door neighbor who said, “I have a confession to make. I am so sorry about your cat. I ran over her with the car last evening but I was just so ashamed and saw that you were having a dinner party so I didn’t know what to do and I just put her on your lawn.”
There’s a lot of confessing going on in that little incident and there will be a lot of confessing during this season of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. But there is an even more fundamental confession that needs to take place before I confess my sins and that is—confessing that Jesus is Lord. And he is Lord not only of history, but of my own life. To have a personal and real relationship with the One who comes to save us is foundational for my faith and the vitality of the Church. Let us focus on that during this holy time of waiting; let us get closer to Christ and to each other as we strive to be the chosen people of God that we are. When that happens, confessing my sins takes on a whole new meaning.
Happy Advent, Fr. Dave
Ole is the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church and Pastor Sven is the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road. One day, they were pounding a sign into the ground which said: THE END IS NEAR! TURN YOURSELF AROUND NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!
As a car speeds past them, the driver leans out his window and yells, “Leave people alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!” From the curve, they hear tires screeching and a big splash. Shaking his head, Rev. Ole says, “You know, dat’s da terd one dis mornin’.” “Yaa,” Pastor Sven agrees and then asks, “Do ya tink maybe da sign should jest say, BRIDGE OUT!?”
As we come to the end of another Church year, we leave Luke’s Gospel with Jesus on the cross. His end, of course, becomes a new beginning. All endings morph into beginnings, certainly, but the end of life has an importance and significance about it that others do not share. Believing in the resurrection is one of the hallmarks of our faith and, while the reality of it is shrouded in some mystery, we embrace it and hope for it nonetheless.
Our liturgical cycle mimics the realities of dying and rising, daily ones and final ones, so as we bid this year of grace a fond farewell, we look forward in hope to the proclamation of Matthew’s Gospel in this coming year. We eagerly anticipate what he has to say, for we know that our final farewell to life and hello to eternity is conditioned by how we have lived out the daily dyings/risings on our life’s journey. Let us open our hearts to Christ the King on the way to His Kingdom and let us live our lives in such a way that all we meet know, in an instant, that we are believers in the Good News of Jesus Christ! Then they, too, may deepen their faith and come to know the joy of being companions on the journey.
In kingdom joy, Fr. Dave
Do you know what the Stella Awards are? They are awarded for the most outlandish lawsuits and verdicts handed down by the court system in the U.S. They are named after 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who successfully sued a McDonald’s in New Mexico a few years back where she had purchased coffee. You remember, she took the lid off the coffee and put it between her knees while she was driving. Anyway, here’s the first-place Stella Award for 2012.
Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home from an OU football game, driving on the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the motor home and make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the Winnebago left the freeway, crashed, and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her $1.75 million plus a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their owner’s manuals as a result of this suit (methinks because she may have a relative who buys a motor home).
Now, what if there were a Stewardship Award? After whom should it be named? Someone like Bill and Melinda Gates for establishing their world-wide foundation? Someone like our parents who sacrificed everything while living through the Depression to make sure we have enough food on the table and clothes on our backs? Or how about those who take vows of poverty and spend their lives in prayerful service to the Church and the world? Would anyone nominate you or me?
As we mark our parish’s annual Stewardship Sunday, let us ask ourselves the real question? Am I grateful enough for all God has given me that I am willing to give back? The average Catholic gift/household to the Church last year throughout the country was .08% of their income. Where do you and I rank? Are we anywhere close to the tithing mark of 10%? If not, could I inch up a little closer this year? And where am I in the areas of prayer and service? Do I say “yes” when asked to help? Do I spend at least some time in prayer each day? Stewardship questions are difficult to ask because we could probably all do better and even if I am a most gracious steward, I could possibly give more cheerfully.
Nearing the feast of Thanksgiving, our gratitude should be heightened. With grateful hearts, then, let us be open to the promptings of the Spirit!
With a thankful heart, Fr. Dave
A woman awakens during the night to find that her husband is not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a hot cup of coffee in front of him. He appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of his coffee. “What’s the matter, dear?” she whispers as she steps into the room. “Why are you down here at this hour of the night?” The husband looks up from his coffee and says, “It’s the 20th anniversary of the day we met.” She can’t believe he has remembered and starts to tear up herself. The husband continues, “Do you remember 20 years ago when we started dating? I was 18 and you were only 16,” he says solemnly. Once again, the wife is touched to tears. “Yes, I do,” she replies. The husband pauses; the words were not coming easily. “Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?” “Yes, I remember,” says the wife, lowering herself into the chair beside him. The husband continues, “Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, “Either you marry my daughter or I will send you to prison for 20 years?” “I remember that, too,” she says softly. He wiped another tear from his cheek and says, “I would have gotten out today.”
Don’t you wonder what relationships will be like in heaven? Will we know everything about everyone else? Will it feel good to be reunited with each friend and foe that we have encountered on our journey there? In the Gospel today, those who are wondering the same things ask it as, “Whose spouse will I be if I’ve been married seven times?” The answer Jesus gives leaves plenty of room for interpretation and wonder. However it all turns out, it will have to be wonderful—perhaps a whole new way of relating—soul to soul! And if the total transformation has not already taken place for everyone when I arrive, I hope it’s only the ones who like me that recognize me in my new and heavenly form.
But, while we’re wondering as we’re wandering on our journey there, we are in relationships now, and it would behoove us all to treat everyone with the respect and love they deserve—even those we have judged to be not deserving of that love and respect. Or, as Jesus would put it…especially those we think are unworthy. For that is the true measure of discipleship—loving enemies as friends, turning the other cheek to those who have hurt us, and seeing the goodness in those so very different from ourselves. If we do that on our way to the kingdom, once we arrive, there will be nothing to worry about, for everyone (all the wives and husbands, all the friends and enemies, all the faithful and unfaithful) will be happy to see us. It’s going to be amazing, and that’s probably all we know for sure!
Happy Days, Fr. Dave
Two Minnesota mechanical engineers were standing at the base of a flagpole, looking up. A woman walks by and asks what they’re doing. “We’re supposed to find the height of the flagpole,” said Sven, “but we don’t have a ladder.” The woman took a wrench from her purse, loosened a few bolts, and laid the pole down. Then she took a tape measure from her pocketbook, took a measurement, and announced, “Eighteen feet, six inches,” and walked away. Ole shook his head and laughed, “Ain’t that just like a woman! We ask for the height and she gives us the length!”
Zacchaeus had some issues with height as well, but the lengths to which he went to see Jesus was most admirable. He grew tall in Jesus’ admiration of him and in climbing the tree to see, he got more than he bargained for—a dinner guest who was none other than the Son of God.
To what lengths are you and I willing to go to truly encounter Jesus? We have a women’s CEW here next weekend and there is still room around the table for YOU! With the shortened hours of daylight, there is more and more time to light a candle rather than curse the darkness and, while the candles are burning, maybe we could say a prayer or two. Friends and family members are wondering just why we go to church every Sunday. Perhaps we could invite them to join us, even if it means promising breakfast afterwards.
And speaking of church attendance, the first two weekends of November are the annual “attendance count” throughout the diocese. One of the uses of this information is to determine how many Masses a parish needs on a weekend (the old policy was always, if a Mass is not at least half-full in relation to the seating capacity, the Mass is cancelled). That may no longer be the rule of thumb, but if our attendance goes down much more, they may decide we have way too many Masses and don’t really need three priests. I say this not as a scare tactic but simply to recognize the reality of what we are dealing with. Numbers of Masses and priests is not the issue, of course. What is truly important is determining where people are encountering Christ if it’s not in the Eucharist. Why aren’t they willing to climb the tree to see the Lord? (I know what you’re thinking—they are climbing a tree to their deer stands and finding God there).
Let us all be a little more like Zacchaeus this week—going to great lengths to grow tall in the sight of our God. And in the process, may we invite him to the table in our hearts!
Blessings, Fr. Dave
Morris Schwartz is on his deathbed, knows the end is near, and is with his nurse, his daughter, and his two sons. “So,” he says to them, “Bernie, I want you to take the Beverly Hills houses; Sybil, take the apartments in Los Angeles Plaza; Hymie, I want you to take the office over in City Center; and Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings downtown.” The nurse is just blown away by all this and, as Morrie slips away, she says, “Oh Mrs. Schwartz, your husband must have been such a hardworking man to have accumulated all this property.” Sarah replies, “Property? The schmuck has a paper route!”
Sometimes we try to lay it on thick and pretend we’re somebody we’re not. Sometimes, people just get the wrong impression of us and how we come across to them is not really the way we are at all. And sometimes, we just tell it like it is and live in the philosophy of “what you see is what you get.” The Gospel parable this weekend portrays two very different personalities. Jesus prefers the one who is honest about who he really is (a sinner) rather than the one who is the pretending to be perfect. Coming to grips with the reality of who I am is often a long and arduous process, but God’s grace and the sacrament of Reconciliation are great helps. To look into the mirror of one’s soul (and the mirror never lies) and to hear God say, while I gaze there, “Everything you see I see, and more, I can love you into the person you truly want to become,” truly transforms us and replaces pride with humility.
God has gifted me in so many ways and with so many wonderful people that, when I sin and become aware of who I really am, I know that God’s blessings will not cease, but will come in an even greater avalanche of goodness into my heart. Let us all, then, do a little reality check and accept ourselves with both our virtues and flaws, knowing that God’s love is omnipresent. And, by being real, others will come to love us more deeply as well.
In a related vein, this is a busy week of honoring saints (All Saints Day is Friday) and those striving to become saints (All Souls Day is Saturday). Let us pray with them and for them by gathering for Mass. And then let us celebrate our efforts in forming our children in the ways of authentic holiness by gathering for our Food Fair, our major school fun and fundraiser, on Saturday evening at Roncalli High School. What a joyful week of festivity!
P.S. Don’t forget Halloween too!
Love, Fr. Dave
The judge says to a double-homicide defendant, “You are charged with beating your wife to death with a hammer.” A voice in the back of the courtroom yells out, “You jerk!” The judge continues, “You are also charged with beating your mother-in-law to death with a hammer.” Again, the voice in the back of the courtroom yells out, “You rotten slime ball!” the judge stops and says to Paddy in the back of the courtroom, “Sir, I understand your anger and frustration at these crimes, but no more outbursts from you or I’ll charge you with contempt. Is that understood?” Paddy stands up and says, “I’m sorry, Your Honor, but for fifteen years I’ve lived next door to that idiot and every time I asked to borrow a hammer he said he didn’t have one.”
The Gospel reminds us this weekend that our persistence in asking God for favors never goes unnoticed. In fact, Luke has Jesus telling us, in parable form, that God’s answer is always one of justice. And therein lies considerable confusion. We tend to define justice as fairness. Incorporating our experience with our legal system and watching Law and Order reruns for years, we lean toward the Old Testament definition of justice—“an eye for an eye…” But Jesus defines God’s justice as ultimate love and mercy. And that may not always be what you and I judge to be fair. So when we are asking God for favors and assistance and he gives us his love instead of what we want, we may give up asking. And when our enemies are judged in the eternal courtroom, and their sentence is forgiveness and compassion, we, who may be watching the proceedings, might very well hope that they would have been sentenced to hell and damnation instead…and won’t it be interesting to see how we react when that doesn’t happen! Hopefully, however, by the time it is our turn to stand before the Eternal Judge, we will be so thrilled that love and mercy prevails for us that we will rejoice that others, too, receive the same sentence. For some it may take longer than others to embrace that attitude, but the Church has always said that we will have all the time we need to get there (purgatory?). After all, “what’s fair is fair;” it just depends on who’s defining it!
In the beauty of autumn and all God’s gifts, Fr. Dave
A 54 year-old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table, she had a near-death experience. Seeing God face-to-face, she asked, “Is my time up?” God said, “No, you have another 42 years, 2 months, and 8 days to live.” Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, implants, and a tummy tuck. She even had her hair color changed and her teeth whitened. Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it. After her last procedure, she was finally released from the hospital and, while crossing the street on her way to her car, she was killed by an ambulance. Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 42 years. Why didn’t you pull me out from the path of that ambulance?” God replied, “I didn’t recognize you!”
I wonder if, perhaps, the reason only one leper came back to thank God in today’s Gospel was because he was the only one who recognized Jesus for who he really was. The others experienced the same good fortune, but it never really hit home with them. They never fully understood that Jesus wanted a relationship with them; he didn’t draw them from the isolation in which they were living back to their community just so they could go back to their previous lives; he wanted to be part of their lives. And apparently for nine of them that never happened. We don’t really know about the tenth one either, but chances are, he became a disciple of the One who healed him. The reason I suspect that is because gratitude is the foundation and well-spring of discipleship.
Even the word Eucharist means thanksgiving; thus, when we gather for worship each Sunday it is primarily because we wish to thank God for the gifts and blessings of our lives. And when we say yes to an invitation to help a neighbor in need or serve on a committee, it is primarily because we are grateful for the blessings in our own lives. And when we commit ourselves to tithing, it is primarily because we are so thankful for all that God has given us that it just seems right to give 10% back to him. Bishop Morneau always says that “gratitude and generosity are first cousins.” The one leper in the Gospel had a grateful heart; thus it is only logical to assume that he gave glory to God through a lifetime of generous service. It’s just how it is!
Let us be a thankful people, never taking God and his blessings for granted, and let us always and everywhere serve the Lord in all we do! Fr. Dave
When everybody on earth was dead and waiting to enter heaven, God appeared and said, “I want the men to make two lines--one line for the men who were true heads of their household, and the other line for the men who were dominated by their women. I want all the women to report to St. Peter.” Soon the women were gone and there were two lines of men. The line of the men who were dominated by their wives was ten miles long and in the line of men who were truly heads of their household, there was only one man. God said to the long line, “You men should be ashamed of yourselves; I created you to be the head of your household! You have been disobedient and have not fulfilled your purpose! Of all of you, only one obeyed. Learn from him.” God then turned to the one man, “How did you manage to be the only one in this line?” The man replied, “My wife told me to stand here.”
The Gospel this weekend points out the singular command of God—to serve joyfully. St. Francis of Assisi was one of those who obeyed that command to the nth degree. As we celebrate Francis Fest this weekend, we recommit ourselves to both the service and the love of life that our patron modeled for us. His simplicity of life enabled him to focus more fully, with fewer distractions, on self-giving; his awareness of the presence of God enabled him to see the splendid work of the Master Painter in all of creation. May the celebration of his feast bring us all closer together as disciples of the Lord!
Most appropriately, this feast comes at the beginning of October, designated for many years as Respect Life Month. One of the ways we will be celebrating the gift of life will be to share the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick with all those who wish to receive it. Besides trying the cover all those parishioners in care centers and who are homebound, we will participate in a communal celebration on Wednesday, October 16, at 1:30 at the Waldo site. If there is anyone you know that might benefit from the grace of this sacrament, please invite them or let us know if they need a visit at home. Respecting life sacramentally, in the way of St. Francis, bridges the gap between this life and eternity. Let us live life, today and forever, to the fullest!
Happy Feast Day! Fr. Dave
Moshe was shocked when his son announced that he was going to convert from Judaism to Christianity. Distraught, he went to his friend Herschel. “Funny you should mention it,” said Herschel, “but my son too just told me he was converting from Judaism to Christianity. Come, let’s go see the rabbi and ask for advice.” Hurrying to the synagogue, they told the rabbi the problem. “Funny you should mention it,” the rabbi told the men, “but even my son announced that he’s converting from Judaism to Christianity. You know, I’ll bet there’s something going on here. We’d best talk to God.” Hastening to the sanctuary, the three men bowed their heads and the rabbi spoke, “Lord God, all of our sons have forsaken Judaism for Christianity. Tell us what we should do.” There was a rumbling, just then, in the heavens and a voice echoed through the temple…”Funny you should mention it.”
Conversion, or any kind of change for that matter, is difficult. It may be a new shift at work or a new Mass time, a new house or neighbor, a new boss or elected official, a new health issue or memory concern. But all these “changes” are the tip of the iceberg compared to the inner change that is requested of us when we accept Jesus as Lord. The Gospel today points that out very graphically, especially to those in Jesus’ audience (and some of us as well) who see material possessions as a sign of God’s favor. Granted, God is the giver of all good gifts, but God’s gifts are not material; rather, they are intangibles like life and love, faith and friendship, mercy and salvation. The rich man’s prayers reflected a misunderstanding of that for which God should be praised; Lazarus, on the other hand, got the message. Only once they both had completed their earthly journeys, did both of them understand what Jesus was all about. Our challenge, of course, is to embrace him and his good news before we end the journey here.
Next weekend, our parish community will gather together to celebrate Francis Fest with a Saturday afternoon Mass (similar to the parish picnic) to thank God for the blessings of our rich heritage in faith and to recommit to imitating our parish patron, St. Francis of Assisi, in living that faith. There have been many changes in these past eight years since we have become one parish, and those changes required lots of inner conversion on the part of all of us. For some, that process has gone better than for others, as will be demonstrated by some staying away from the celebration because it would be a “change” in their regular routine or for other deeper reasons. Nevertheless, the grace of God is always stronger than our wills, and conversion will happen in each of us, either on the journey here or beyond (purgatory) or probably for most of us—both. So here’s to the joy of being one and to the promise of Jesus that the entire journey, with him at the helm, is one of joy, too!
Autumn blessings, Fr. Dave
Tim decided to tie the knot with his longtime girlfriend. One evening, after the honeymoon, he was organizing his golfing equipment while his wife was standing nearby watching him. After a long period of silence, she finally speaks, “Honey, I’ve been thinking. Now that we’re married, I think it’s time you quit golfing. Maybe you should sell your clubs.” Tim gets this horrified look on his face. She says, “Darling, what’s wrong?” He replies, “There for a minute you were sounding like my ex-wife.” “Ex-wife!” she screams, “I didn’t know you were married before!” “I wasn’t,” he calmly replies.
Despite the ability of most of us to multi-task, arranging priorities in our lives is truly a challenge. Am I married to my wife or my job? What comes first, my children or my hobbies? How do I unwind, the computer or the local establishment or prayer time? And the list could go on and on. For some, it may even include the Church. It is for that reason that we, in leadership here at St. Francis, are always looking for signs of burn-out, for new volunteers, for making sure we are not taking advantage of those who always say “yes.”
The Gospel says that one cannot serve God and money, even though they are, in some ways, related. That reminds me of the story about a well-worn one-dollar bill and a similarly distressed twenty-dollar bill that arrived at a Federal Reserve Bank to be retired. As they moved along the conveyor belt to be burned, they struck up a conversation. The twenty-dollar bill reminisced about traveling all over the country and beyond. “I’ve had a great life,” the twenty proclaimed, “Why I’ve been to Vegas and Atlantic City, to fine restaurants and Broadway plays, on cruises and at resorts…” “Wow!” said the one-dollar bill, “You have had one exciting life!” “So, tell me,” said the twenty, “where have you all been in your life?” The one dollar replies, “Well, I have spent most of my life in church, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church…” Which comes first, God or money? Each of us can only answer that for him/herself. And for me, just having returned from a marvelous vacation, that question is even more timely!
Arranging priorities…a real challenge for all of us!
Blessings, Fr. Dave
A wife asks her husband, “Could you please run to the store for me and buy a gallon of milk and if they have avocados, get six. A short time later the husband comes back with six gallons of milk. The wife asks him, “Why do have six gallons of milk?” He replied, “They had avocados.” (If you’re a woman, I’m sure you’ll go back and read it again. Men will get it the first time).
It’s like this weekend’s Gospel—how many times do I go back to reread it and try to understand? I mean…really…leaving ninety-nine good sheep in a wasteland to find one that was lost? Or having a party with friends and neighbors because you found a lost penny? And then there’s the prodigal son…what’s the older brother’s problem, and where’s the mother in the story? The quick answer found in the reread would be that those things which make God happy are not always the same as those things that make us happy. Forgiveness is apparently much easier for God than it is for us. That being said, most of us have known the joy of reconciliation with someone who has hurt us or a re-connection with someone after a long absence or St. Anthony coming through in the clutch when we have found what was lost. It’s just that the Gospel makes God seem like he gets carried away.
And maybe he does. Maybe God is so into mercy and forgiveness that he loses his entire calm and cool demeanor and becomes simply ecstatic whenever one that is lost is found, something which each of us might find hard to fully appreciate or comprehend. But once I do, once I sense how excited he gets when I get my act together and let him find me, I’ll be the first one to congratulate him on finding the sheep or the coin or the lost son. I guess, if I think hard enough and reread the Gospel yet again, I’ll finally understand.
Time to celebrate…Fr. Dave
Once upon a time there was a very handsome camel with two huge camel humps. He fell in love and married a beautiful female camel who had one perfect camel hump. As time progressed, they became the proud parents of a wonderful baby camel who had no humps. They contemplated long and hard on what to call their beautiful little boy. They finally decided on…are you ready for this?...Humphrey.
Okay, stop your groaning. There are a lot of humps on the path of life and Jesus, and the Gospel this weekend, adds yet another one—the Cross. We are to take it with us on the path of discipleship and if we do, we will live in glory forever. Only in the infinite wisdom of God does that make any sense. But to follow in the footsteps of Jesus means to stop off at Calvary first and then experience the new life that awaits us. It is simply how the Creator designed the reality of life.
Fortunately, like Jesus, we have help to carry our Cross. We have God’s grace; we have the Church; we have the love of family and friends; we have our own inner strength. In that way the cross becomes lighter and we become people who are not only helped, but help others carry theirs. Let us, this week, look for ways to lighten the load of those around us, freeing them from the humps on their backs and rejoicing in the hope that, in the end, we will all walk hump-free into the kingdom of heaven.
This ol’ bald hump in your life will be gone on vacation from the 8th to the 20th. See you when I return. Until then, miss me lots.
Blessings, Fr. Dave
A first-grade teacher had 26 students in her class. She presented each child in her room the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of it. Keep in mind that these are first-graders.
Don’t change horses…until they stop running. Strike while the…bug is close. It’s always the darkest before…Daylight Savings Time. Never underestimate the power of…termites. You can lead a horse to water but…how? Don’t bite the hand that…looks dirty. No news is…impossible. A miss is as good as a…Mr. You can’t teach an old dog new…math. If you lie down with dogs, you’ll…stink in the morning. Love all, trust…me. The pen is mightier than the…pigs. An idle mind is…the best way to relax. Where there’s smoke there’s…pollution. Happy the bride who…gets all the presents. A penny saved is…not much. Two’s company, three’s…the Musketeers. Don’t put off till tomorrow what…you put on to go to bed. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and…you have to blow your nose. There are none so blind as…Stevie Wonder. Children should be seen and not…grounded. If at first you don’t succeed…get new batteries. You get out of something only what you…see in the picture on the box. When the blind lead the blind…move over. A bird in the hand…is going to poop on you. Better late than…pregnant.
And all of our first graders (not to mention all the other graders) go to school this week. Their creativity and insights will astound us; their life-stories and concerns will challenge us; their very presence will enrich us. May all of us—staffs, parents and grandparents, boards and concerned neighbors—support them in every way we can!
As Labor Day is ticked off the calendar this week, we cling to the memories of summer (most of them good, I trust) and embrace the colors of fall—those in our trees and those in our souls. Let us appreciate the moments as we engage the first-grader within each of us!
Happy Days!! Fr. Dave
After having dug to a depth of ten feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago. Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of twenty feet and shortly thereafter a story in the LA Times read: “California archaeologists discover 200 year-old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.” One week later, a local newspaper in Manitowoc, WI reported the following: “After digging as deep as thirty feet in his pasture near Valders, WI, Ole Olsen, a self-taught archaeologist reported that he found absolutely nothing. Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Wisconsin had already gone wireless.” Makes one proud to be from Wisconsin!
And I am even prouder to be from St. Francis of Assisi parish. What a wonderful experience the picnic was last weekend. Even the water in the dunk tank was heated—it doesn’t get better than that! Thanks to all the volunteers who planned, orchestrated, and enabled it to happen and to all of you who joined in the fun. Let’s do it again next year.
This final week in August is filled with endings and beginnings. May all of us feel the Spirit of God guiding and directing us through the transition! Growth can’t happen when one stands still so let us embrace the changes that September will bring and celebrate life by living it to the fullest.
Peace and all good things, Fr. Dave
A Catholic priest welcomed the local Jewish rabbi to the parish picnic. Old friends, they began their usual banter in the food tent. As the priest was eating a baked ham sandwich, he teased the rabbi, “This ham is extraordinary. You really ought to try a sandwich. I know it’s against your religion to have ham, but I can’t understand why such wonderful food should be forbidden. You don’t know what you’re missing. You just haven’t lived till you’ve tried our Altar Society’s baked ham. Tell me, Rabbi, when are you going to break down and try some?” The rabbi looked at the priest with a big grin and said, “At your wedding!”
As we welcome many guests to our parish “Fun in the Sun” picnic this weekend, the banter will be lively, the food extraordinary, and the presence of God so very real. May each of us enjoy a day filled with stories and laughter, as we cherish the gift of one another as well as those who are with us from the great picnic tent in the sky! Our get-together would not happen without the hard work of many and we thank them for their generous service. May all they have done to prepare for this fun-filled day be a sign to all of us that it is in giving that we receive. Enjoy the picnic, make a new friend, and help grow the Church through your warmth and hospitality!
Our college students will start drifting off to their homes-away-from-home this week and next and we remind them that they are never really gone, for they have a place in our hearts forever. We wish you well and will be with you in spirit. When you come home for a visit, know that our doors are never closed and, in the meantime, if there is anything we can do for you, you know where to find us (text me any time!). Embrace the opportunities that each day presents. They are all truly amazing, as is each one of you.
Fun in the Sun, Fr. Dave
After a tiring day, a commuter settled down in his seat and closed his eyes. As the train rolled out of the boarding area, the young woman sitting next to him pulled out her cell phone and started talking in a loud voice, “Hi sweetheart, It’s Sue. I’m on the train… Yes, I know it’s the six-thirty and not the four-thirty, but I had a long meeting…No, honey, not with that Kevin from the accounting office; it was with the boss...No, sweetheart, you’re the only one in my life…Yes, I’m sure. Cross my heart.” Fifteen minutes later, she was still talking loudly. When the man sitting next to her had had enough, he leaned over and said into her phone, “Sue, hang up the phone and come back to bed.” Sue doesn’t use her cell phone in public any longer.
Cell phones are part of the immediacy quotient that grips our lives. A little boy asked me for a small favor the other day and when I said, “What’s the magic word?” he blurted out, “Now!” We no longer wait till we get home to answer phone calls. How does one develop patience when immediacy is the norm?
Our relationship with God is affected by this as well. In asking God to answer a prayer, we want it NOW. The Gospel this weekend reminds us that God wants us to live vigilant lives because God is, at every moment and in every circumstance, trying to reach us. One would think that, as accustomed as we are to cell phones, we would recognize His call and answer immediately. Sometimes, there’s not even a need to respond (God’s just leaving a message) and sometimes, there’s a need for a considerable response (God wants to have a chat) and sometimes, it’s even done in public (in church or around the kitchen table). But let us make no mistake, God is forever calling so, please, let’s answer the call.
Hello? Fr. Dave
President Obama decided to congratulate the Queen in the birth of her new heir to the throne in person. Arriving at Heathrow Airport, the president strides to a warm and dignified reception from Her Majesty. They are driven in a 1934 Bentley to the edge of central London where they change to a magnificent 17th century carriage hitched to six white horses. They continue towards Buckingham Palace, waving to thousands of cheering Britons. All is going well! Suddenly the right rear horse passes the vilest gas ever released in the British Empire. The smell is atrocious and both passengers in the carriage must use handkerchiefs over their noses. The coach shakes from the commotion, but the two dignitaries of State do their best to ignore the incident. The Queen turns to President Obama, “Mr. President, please accept my regrets. As I am sure you understand, there are some things that even a queen cannot control.” Obama, always trying to be “presidential,” replies, “Your Majesty, do not give the matter another thought. Until you mentioned it, I thought it was one of the horses.”
The hubbub over the birth of Prince George stirs some controversy, but there is a little remnant of fairy tales in the hearts of each of us who remain childlike throughout our adult lives and are taken up with the whole concept of royalty and what it would be like to be a prince or princess. It isn’t just the wealth or fame, but the imaginary feel to it all that intrigues us.
Truth be told, we are all royalty because we are part of the Kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is not imaginary, nor is it the kind of kingdom that surfaces now and then in human history. Rather, in God’s kingdom, the poor are also rich, the sad are also joyful, and the downtrodden also have places of prestige. Or as Jesus so creatively puts it in this weekend’s Gospel, “Don’t build more barns; build generous hearts instead. That’s what is needed in God’s kingdom.”
Speaking of generous hearts, thanks for all your gifts to this year’s Bishop’s Appeal. While the campaign is officially closed, we would certainly accept any last-minute donations to help us raise the final $1,900 for our assessment. You will also be receiving, in a direct, diocesan mailing, an invitation to give to this year’s Seminarian Collection. We have two college seminarians from our parish—Nathaniel Binversie and John Hynek—so our goodness helps sustain them and some twenty others on their road to priesthood. So, as the saying might go, “Don’t build more barns; give the hay away!”
In gratitude, Fr. Dave
Woman: Do you drink beer?
Woman: How many beers a day?
Man: Usually about three.
Woman: How much do you pay per beer?
Man: About $5 (doesn’t live in Manty)
Woman: And how long have you been drinking?
Man: About twenty years, I suppose.
Woman: So a beer costs $5 and you have three beers a day
which puts your spending each month at $450.
In one year, it would be approximately $5400.00? Correct?
Woman: If in one year you spend $5400, not accounting
for inflation, the past twenty years puts your
Spending at $108,000, correct?
Woman: Do you know that if you didn’t drink beer that
money could have been put in a savings account
And, after accounting for compound interest for the past twenty years, you could have now bought a Ferrari?
Man: Do you drink beer?
Man: Where’s your Ferrari?
And there we have male logic at its best. Jesus, being a male, seems to fall victim to that same kind of logic now and then. You know, “ask the Father anything in my name and he will give it to you.” Right! How often have you and I prayed for something and the answer seems long in coming or not coming at all? Perhaps, the confusion and frustration lies in what we ask for. If the purpose of prayer is not to get favors but to get closer to God, then no matter what we talk to God about in prayer, the answer is always the same…I am one with you and love you and feel everything that you are feeling right now. Let me walk with you during this time of joy (or sorrow). And isn’t that ultimately the answer we really want? To believe in a God that never abandons us even in the darkest times of our lives? Let us be people of prayer, surely. But let us also make sure that our prayers are not asking for more stuff (God isn’t Santa Claus) but, rather, praising God for being our best friend forever!
Prayerfully, Fr. Dave
Jennifer’s wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement—not even her parent’s nasty divorce. Her mother had found the perfect dress to wear and would be the best-dressed mother-of-the-bride ever. A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father’s new, young wife had bought the exact same dress as her mother. Jennifer asked her father’s new, young wife to exchange it but she refused. “Absolutely not! I look like a million bucks in this dress and I’m wearing it!” she replied. Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, “Never mind sweetheart. I’ll get another dress. After all, it’s your special day.” A few days later, they went shopping and did find another gorgeous dress for her mother. When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, “Aren’t you going to return the other dress? You really don’t have another occasion when you could wear it.” Her mother smiled and replied, “Of course I do, dear. I’m wearing it to the rehearsal dinner!”
Graciousness comes in all sizes and shapes and in all people (some more than others, it seems). None of us, of course, is completely grace-filled; we all have a few tricks and shades of nastiness up our sleeves. The Gospel incident reminds us that two of Jesus’ best friends, Mary and Martha, themselves struggled to be perfect hostesses (and one can only wonder where their brother Lazarus was while this was all going on—he was conveniently absent when things were getting ready; we guys are good at that! But Jesus simply responds to the tension by telling us all to lighten up. Mole hills are not mountains and only the end of the world is the end of the world. Moreover, to focus on the Lord enables us to rise above many a brewing storm as well.
This weekend our parish community plays host/hostess to Fr. Koos Walters and Br. Francis Murray, members of the missionary community of The Oblates of St. Francis De Sales. They join us for worship this weekend in order to inspire us to embrace more fully the mission of the Church to the entire world. As we welcome them, we praise the God who calls us and sends us forth to proclaim His love to the ends of the earth. May their time among us be rewarding and grace-filled!
Summer blessings, Fr. Dave
On their way to getting married, a young Catholic couple was involved in a fatal car crash. The couple found themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to allow them into heaven. While waiting, they began to wonder if they could get married in heaven. When St. Peter arrived, they asked him. He said he would check it out and let them know. “This is the first time anyone has ever asked,” he said. “Let me find out.” The couple sat and waited for a couple of months. While they waited, they discussed the pros and cons of having a wedding in heaven. They wondered how it would work, what with the eternal aspect of everything. What if it doesn’t work out? Are we stuck in heaven together forever?
Another month passed and St. Peter finally returned, somewhat bedraggled. “Yes,” he informed the couple, “they could have their wedding in heaven.” “Great,” said the couple, “but we were just wondering, what if things don’t work out? Could we also get a divorce in heaven?” St. Peter went nuts and threw his clipboard down on a cloud. “What’s wrong?” whispered the frightened couple. “Oh, come on!” St. Peter shouted. “It took me three months to find a priest up here. Do you have any idea how long it would take me to find a lawyer?”
The surprises that await us in heaven notwithstanding, I wonder if those who listened to Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan were more surprised by the over-the-top goodness of the man or the fact that it was a Samaritan who was doing it. Kindness reigns all around us. Our most bitter enemies reach out in love to total strangers all the time. People who are in the public eye often do wonderful random acts of generosity behind the scenes. Those whom we judge to be losers with a capital L are often, in their heart of hearts, the kindest people to those in need. All of us are called to be people of Samaritan goodness, and that call from God penetrates even the hearts that we surmise to be the hardest.
When we are shocked by an individual that reaches out to someone or supports our favorite charity; when an enemy nation shocks the world by a policy that cares for those most in need; when an outlaw becomes an in-law and is good to me…let us move our jaws back to the closed position and praise God that His grace has penetrated yet another heart. And let us join the Samaritan and follow his lead.
In kindness, Fr. Dave
Wife’s Diary entry: Tonight I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn’t flowing so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet where we could talk. He agreed, but never said much. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “Nothing.” I asked him if it were my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn’t upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly and kept driving. I can’t explain his behavior. I don’t know why he didn’t say, “I love you too.” When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About fifteen minutes later, he came to bed, but I still felt he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep; I cried. I don’t know what to do. I’m almost sure there is someone else. My life is a disaster.
Husband’s Diary entry: A two-foot putt…what idiot ever misses a two-foot putt?
As we celebrate this Fourth of July weekend, don’t you wonder what some of our nation’s founders wrote in their diaries? Through all the discussions and arguments, the Declaration of Independence was written for the entire world to emulate, but only history’s eyes would see it as the great statement it is. Only from a distance would the “diary couple” be able to recognize their entries for what they really were. Only from our vantage point can we appreciate all that went into formulating and supporting and creating those hallowed documents of our early U.S. history.
We, in the Church, perhaps appreciate them more than some, for we have a 2000-year collection of writings from popes and theologians, from mystics and moralists, from vowed religious and married men and women who truly laid the foundation of what our Church has become. Let us recognize that we are who we are, on every level, because of those who have gone before us, trying to inspire in word and deed those who would follow after them. With grateful hearts let us celebrate this holiday weekend! With lives of service let us live each day in freedom and peace!
Fireworks for all, Fr. Dave
A gushy reporter told Phil Mickelson, “You are spectacular. Your name is synonymous with the game of golf. You really know your way around the course! Just what is your secret?” Mickelson replied, “The holes are numbered!”
And the names of Fr. Dick and Fr. William are synonymous with priestly service. As we bid them Godspeed this Monday, we treasure the memories of all that they have done for our parish family. As we wish them well in their future parishes, we can only hope that everything is numbered to facilitate an easy transition as they get to know their way around.
One year ago to the day (Bishop Ricken likes everyone to move on July 1) I was in that same boat. As everyone knows, moving is a lot of physical and emotional work. But the warmth and enthusiasm of those waiting at the new place to help unpack (books, memories, and everything else one takes along) makes the event a moment of great grace. In that vein, may we reach out with open hands and hearts to Fr. Dave Beaudry and Fr. Bill Brunner to ensure that July 1 is a day of great grace for each of them. Blessings to all in this time of transition (who ever said that summer is a time to relax?)!
Peace in the midst of change…Fr. Dave
Some actual exchanges recorded by a court reporter…
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, “Where am I, Cathy?”
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.
ATT: This myasthenia gravis…does it affect your memory at all?
ATT: And in what way does it affect your memory?
WIT: I forget.
ATT: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATT: She had three children, right?
ATT: How many were boys?
ATT: Were there any girls?
WIT: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney.
ATT: How was your first marriage terminated?
WIT: By death.
ATT: And by whose death was it terminated?
WIT: Take a guess.
ATT: Can you describe the individual?
WIT: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATT: Was this a male or a female?
WIT: Unless the Circus was in town, I’m going with a male.
ATT: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WIT: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATT: All of your responses MUST be oral, ok? What school did you go to?
ATT: Do you recall the time you examined the body?
WIT: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATT: Was Mr. Denton dead at the time?
WIT: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATT: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATT: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATT: Did you check for breathing?
ATT: So then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATT: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WIT: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATT: I see, but could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
WIT: Yes it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
I have often wondered when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” whether there weren’t a few wise-guy answers that weren’t recorded in the Scriptures. I mean, after all, those twelve ragamuffins hanging out together for several years must have had some real dandy questions and answers. To approach the Lord with humor and cleverness in prayer (instead of just complaining to Him about something or asking for a favor) just might give God a chance to laugh. And I certainly would rather deal with a happy God than the other possibility. All that being said, however, Peter’s profession of faith (that part which has been recorded) is the rock on which our faith rests all these centuries later. He certainly had no idea that one little sentence would make such a difference in the history of the world. Nor do you and I. Thus, we may be advised to choose our words carefully whenever we are asked a question as well.
Any questions? Fr. Dave
A husband and wife are on the 9th green when she suddenly collapses from an apparent heart attack. “Help me, dear!” she groans to her husband. The husband calls 911 on his cell phone, talks for a few minutes, picks up his putter, and lines up his putt. His wife raises her head off the green and stares at him. “I’m dying here and you’re putting?” “Don’t worry, dear,” says the husband calmly, “they found a cardiologist on the second hole and he’s coming to help you.” “Well, how long will it take him to get here?” she asks feebly. “No time at all,” says her husband. “Everyone’s agreed to let him play through!”
And I hope Father’s Day finds all our golfing dads on a course somewhere (or maybe a gift certificate for a future date would be a better idea). We do appreciate all of you for many reasons, not the least of which is your ability to laugh at yourselves. While the women in our lives (and while I may not be married, there are plenty of them who keep me honest too) do all they can to raise us to levels we could never achieve on our own, we have lots of gifts to offer as well. To name them all here would be impossible (the bulletin is only twelve pages long), but, suffice it to say, the world is a better place because dads are in it. Happy Father’s Day to all of you and to those who continue to inspire us from their place in the kingdom!
Summer is in full swing and that means the baseball diamonds, soccer fields, swimming pools, zoos, and many other attractions are full. What a wonderful time of the year! May each day remind all of us that the changing of the seasons is part of the creative genius of our God and may we, despite our busy-ness at play, take time to pray!
Summer blessings, Fr. Dave
Unannounced, a man brings his best buddy home for Saturday dinner. His wife takes him aside and screams, “My hair isn’t done, I’m not wearing makeup, the house is a mess, the dishes are all over the kitchen, I’m still in my pajamas, and I can’t be bothered with cooking tonight! What in the world did you bring him home for?” “Because he’s thinking of getting married…”
June is the traditional month for weddings and I am celebrating three of them out of town with couples that have touched my life in one way or another along with several here at St. Francis. People often give me a hard time about all the weddings I commit to, but I truly enjoy them. Plus, they are great opportunities for evangelization—reaching out to young people, accepting them exactly where they are on their faith journey, and sharing with them the love of Christ and a warm welcome from the Church at this important time in their lives. And, at almost every reception, I meet other relatives and friends who also need a listening ear or a caring heart. They possibly wouldn’t have the courage to call for an appointment but, meeting them out socially, they will bring up something that needs a little attention. All in all, weddings are grace-filled opportunities to journey with many wonderful people. And…if you are celebrating an anniversary this month, put on your makeup and let him take you out!
School is out and it’s beginning to feel like summer. Only time will tell if we will have as hot a summer as last year. The experts tell me that it would take $160,000 to air-condition our three churches. Some would think that’s outrageous for us who are cooler by the lake; others would start the fund drive immediately. For now…we’ll wait and see. In the meantime, please enjoy the daylight, the chirping birds, the blooming flowers, and the concerts in the park. Have a fun-filled and faith-filled summer!
Love and laughs, Fr. Dave
A man suffered a serious heart attack while out shopping one day. The clerk called 911 when they saw him collapse. The paramedics rushed him to the nearest hospital where he had heart bypass surgery. When he awakened, he found himself in a Catholic hospital, where a nun from Pastoral Care was seated next to him holding a clipboard and a pen. She asked him, after a short conversation, if he was able to pay for the surgery. “Do you have health insurance?” she asked. He relied in a raspy voice, “No. No health insurance.” She then asked, “Do you have any money in a savings account?” He replied, “Nope. No money in the bank either.” “Do you have any relatives that could help you with the payments?” asked the nun. He said, “I only have a spinster sister and she is a nun.” The sister became agitated and announced loudly, “Nuns are not spinsters. They are married to God.” The patient replied, “Perfect! Then send the bill to my brother-in-law!”
There have been lots of jokes over the years about the miracle of the loaves and fishes (this weekend’s Gospel) like “Who paid the caterer? or Who cleaned up the mess? or Who brought the garbage bags?” Two weeks ago, the joke in Fatima was the old one about the third message that Our Lady had for the little shepherds, that Pope John Paul II opened in the 1980’s, which turned out to be a bill for the Last Supper. Some find these comments sacrilegious, but Jesus himself often reminded us that people should not take themselves too seriously and should not be so puffed up that they cannot laugh at themselves. I have no doubt that there is much laughter in heaven and teasing about the choices that each of us has made on the journey, all the times we embarrassed ourselves, and the times when we got “testy” because someone was teasing us.
One can only imagine that, on that hillside in Galilee, there was many a person who started blaming someone in the family for not bringing a lunch along, or for eating the last hard roll before they left, or for not smoking the fish so it would withstand the heat. And then the miracle occurred as Jesus said, “Don’t worry. Be happy!” For, as always, He was able to calm fears and satisfy hungers through a simple gesture of blessing and sharing. Isn’t that the way it almost always goes? A little blessing and some sharing often solves most of the problems in the world and most of the frustrations in our daily lives. Let us laugh at ourselves when we get all bent out of shape; let us take a deep breath as we bless the person we blame for our situation; and let us share what we have to continue on with our day in peace.
Summer blessings, Fr. Dave
Three sisters, ages 92, 94, and 96, live in one house together. One night, the 96 year-old draws a bath. She puts her foot into the tub and pauses, then yells to the other sisters, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?” The 94 year-old yells back, “I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.” She tarts up the stairs and pauses, “Was I going up the stairs or down the stairs?” the 92 year-old is sitting at the old wooden kitchen table having tea listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful,” as she knocks on wood. She then yells, “I’ll be right up to help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”
Memorial Day, while a holiday to kick off the summer, is a reminder to all of us to never forget those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Let us make sure that, somewhere in the midst of graduations and brat frys, we truly remember what Monday is all about. Speaking of graduations, we congratulate all those who graduate from Roncalli and Lincoln and Manitowoc Lutheran; from our Parish School, St. Francis of Assisi, and our junior highs; from Silver Lake, UW-Manitowoc, LTC and all our colleges and universities (This listing reminds me of the time I saw a bumper sticker that said, “My dog is an honor student at the Taylor Obedience School,” so if we have one of them in town, congratulations to our canine friends who are graduating too). Graduation is a time when memories and dreams intersect so forcefully that they are true moments of grace, often quite emotional and always pride-filled with the sense of accomplishment that comes with getting the job done. May your futures be bright and faith-filled and may you know forever the support of our parish community as the journey continues!
Happy Summer! Fr. Dave
The light turned yellow, just in front of her. She did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though she could have beaten the red light and made it through the intersection. The tailgating man was furious and laid on his horn as he missed his chance to get through the intersection, dropping his cell phone and shaver. As he was still in mid-rant, he heard a tap on his window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered him to exit his car with his hands up. He took him to the police station where he was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. The man was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with his personal effects. He said, “I am very sorry for the mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car when you were blowing your horn, gesturing the woman ahead of you, and cussing a blue streak. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me to Sunday School’ sign in the rear window, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. So naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.”
Pentecost…the sending of the Spirit to enable us to live our faith in our daily lives! As we open our hearts to that same miracle that empowered the “locked-door disciples” to leave the room and go forth and live the Good News, so we, too, are on a mission—to proclaim, in word and example, the love that God has for us and for all people. The gifts of the Holy Spirit give us the desire and the tools we need to make our world a better place, to see others through the eyes of Christ, and to live in such a way that everyone we encounter will know that we are His followers. May every day be a Pentecost for each of us; may the Spirit come alive through us to renew the face of the earth!
Congratulations and welcome to those who will be received into the Church this Sunday. We are a better community of faith for your presence among us. And thanks to Sr. Mary Ann and the RCIA team for your prayerful guidance to those who are confirmed!
In the Spirit, Fr. Dave
An old man and woman were married for many years. Whenever there was a confrontation, yelling could be heard deep into the night. The old man would shout, “When I die, I will dig my way up and out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life.” Neighbors feared him; the old man liked the fact that he was feared. To everyone’s relief, he died of a heart attack when he was 95. His wife had a closed casket at the funeral. After the burial, her neighbors, concerned for her safety, asked, “Aren’t you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way out of the grave and haunt you for the rest of your life?” The wife said, “Let him dig. I had him buried upside down and I know he won’t ask for directions!”
The feast of the Ascension celebrates Jesus’ return to the Father. Exactly how it happened and when it happened remains a mystery (although those who prefer to translate the bible literally would say there’s no mystery at all). Yet, the fact that there are mysteries in our faith does not diminish the reality that life is forever and in the kingdom of God, there is complete and total union with the God who has created all of life. We embrace those mysteries and live in the confidence that where Jesus has gone, we will someday follow.
This weekend finds me in the midst of a trip to Portugal (I will truly remember all of you at the shrine at Fatima) with several family members. I will be back Friday evening. I wish all of you Moms a Happy Mother’s Day and trust that your kids will treat you with great love (and even greater expense) as we celebrate that wonderful holiday. May our Blessed Mother grace each of you with wisdom and love!
Blessings, Fr. Dave
A pastor woke up one morning and, realizing it was an exceptionally beautiful and sunny spring day, decided he just had to play golf. He told the associate pastor that he was feeling sick and asked him to cover for him that day. As soon as the associate left the room, the pastor headed out of town to a golf course about forty miles away. This way he figured he wouldn’t accidentally run into anyone from his parish who knew him. Setting up on the first tee, he was all alone and breathed a sigh of relief. At that very moment, however, St. Peter leaned over to the Lord while looking down from heaven and exclaimed, “You’re not going to let him get away with this, are you?” The Lord sighed and said, “Well, I guess not.” The pastor hits the ball and it shot straight toward the pin, dropping just short of it, rolled up and fell right into the hole. It was a 220-yard hole-in-one! St. Peter was outraged. He looked at the Lord and asked, “Why did you let him do that?” The Lord smiled and replied, “Who’s he going to tell?”
And to think that Bishop Banks is with us this Sunday to preside at Confirmation rather than playing a round of golf! How blessed are we! And the most blessed among us are those committed teens who are opening themselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They have prepared many hours and in many different ways for this moment of grace and we trust that the gifts the Spirit bestows will not be given in vain. Our confirmandi will take these gifts and make a difference in our world. They will grow the Church and reach out to those in need. They will witness to their faith in prayer and action and live their lives with grateful and generous hearts. Too “pie-in-the-sky” you say? Well, they are already doing all of the above. We have seen it and have been graced by their presence among us.
We also have witnessed the power of the Spirit through the commitment of Deacons Kenn Nelesen and Paul Kieffer. For 35 years, they have touched people’s lives with their proclaiming the Good News in our parish and our community. Through the using of their unique gifts and relying on the energy of the Spirit, they have been untiring servants of the risen Christ. Thank you for saying yes to the call to serve; may your anniversary and every day afford you humble gratitude for what Christ has accomplished through each of you.
In the Spirit, Fr. Dave
Mildred, the church gossip and self-appointed mentor of the parishioners’ morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extra-curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence. She made a mistake, however, when she accused Frank, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon (couldn’t have been in Wisconsin). She emphatically told Frank (and many others) that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing! Frank, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing. Later that evening, Frank quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house, walked home, and left it there all night.
Sometimes we love our neighbors so much we just can’t stop talking about them. Can you imagine how quiet we would be if we lived the ol’ adage, “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all!?” Jesus, in today’s Gospel, ends his farewell address on the night before he died by simply inviting us to love one another. That love takes on many forms, yet one form it never takes on is talking poorly about each other. It’s so difficult to be good all the time, but with God’s grace and the role modeling that Jesus gives, we can at least strive to raise the bar a little higher in our daily lives. This week, let us say only good things about each other and come to preview what life will be like in the kingdom, where all words are words of praise—for God and one another!
You are sooo good! Fr. Dave
The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep. Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, “Kemo Sabe, look towards the sky. What do you see?” The Lone Ranger replies, “I see millions of stars.” “What that tell you?” asks Tonto. The Lone Ranger ponders for a moment and then replies, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of stars. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Practically, it appears to be approximately quarter past three in the morning. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Tonto?” Tonto says, “It tells me you dumber than buffalo chip. It means someone stole the tent!”
Their tent may have been stolen, but we have nothing to fear. With Jesus as the Good Shepherd, not one sheep will be snatched from his hand. Just knowing that gives us a sense of security, for even if we run away or get lost, he will come after us till we are back in the fold. Of course, our experience seems to tell a different story. Many (even some of those we love) have wandered away from the herd and the shepherd; they have followed another voice that has called out to them. Nevertheless, Jesus is pursuing them in ways we may never fully appreciate and, while we do all we can to try to bring them back ourselves, the Shepherd may have other tricks up his cloak. We do as much as possible to be “field agents” of the Shepherd, but, in the end, simply trust that, in his own time, we will all be back together again. It is his promise!
This is our last First Communion Sunday and these great children remind us of the joy that is ours in being part of the community of believers. Those “outside the flock” will never know the richness and the joy of belonging to the Shepherd. It is truly a gift to behold (in the eyes of our second graders and their families) and to celebrate (in the lives of each one of us). What a great grace to recognize in them the joy of being gathered around the Eucharistic table!
Happy days, Fr. Dave
One day when Grandma was out, Grandpa was left in charge of their 2 ½ year-old granddaughter. Someone had given the little girl a tea set for her birthday and it was definitely her favorite toy. Grandpa was in the living room engrossed in watching a game on TV when the little girl brought him a cup of tea (which was just water). After several cups of tea and lots of praise for how yummy it was, Grandma came home. Grandpa made her wait in the living room to watch the little girl bring him a cup of tea because it was “just the cutest thing.” Grandma waited and, sure enough, in came the grandchild with a cup of tea, which she watched him drink up. Then Grandma says (as only a grandma would know), “Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet bowl?”
And Jesus, with all his wisdom, says the same to his disciples in the Gospel this weekend, “Did it ever occur to you to cast the fishing net off the other side of the boat?” And they did, and they caught lots of fish. The Gospel, of course, isn’t really about fishing. That’s just the backdrop for the appearance of the risen Christ. The Gospel is really about letting the Lord lead us to where life abounds, where there is more joy than imaginable. In John’s Gospel particularly, Jesus is always portrayed as extravagant. In his first miracle (called signs by John), the bride and groom need a few more glasses of wine. Jesus comes up with 150 gallons. In his last sign, after the resurrection, Jesus helps the disciples catch 153 fish. The moral of the story: if you and I ever think that God is stingy, we are looking in the wrong places; we are missing the signs.
What greater sign do we need these weeks than the joy on the faces of those receiving communion for the first time. One hundred (or so) of the “cutest little people” beaming with joy at their first Eucharist, their first “fully alive” encounter with the risen Lord, is a sure sign of God’s graciousness. The cynics and those who don’t understand would say, “All that fuss over a little wafer. Surely God could do better than that.” But we know better—the extravagance of God, who gives of his whole and entire self, is found in that little wafer and that small sip of wine. Thank God we know where to cast our nets!
Easter abundance, Fr. Dave
After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form called a “gripe” sheet, which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form and then the pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by the pilots (marked “P”) and the solutions recorded (marked with an “S”) by maintenance engineers.
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what friction locks are for.
P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
P: Noise coming from under the instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from the midget.
A sense of humor goes a long way in solving problems. Of course, sometimes it can cause problems if used insensitively or in a too-sarcastic way, but it often alleviates the pressure that builds up when things are not going right. I wonder if there was any laughter in that locked room in the Gospel this weekend when Thomas was putting his finger in Jesus’ nail marks or his hand in Jesus’ side. I can’t help but think there was at least a smile on the Lord’s face as Thomas had to eat his words from the week before. While laughter and joy are not the same, they are cousins, certainly. The closer you and I get to Christ, the more joy floods our souls. There is no room in heaven for sour pusses or folks who take everything too seriously. Serious attention needs to be given to many things in life, and while the journey of faith is often challenging, it is also en-lightening, thereby Jesus’ Easter message as the light of the world is often, “Lighten up!” May we know the joy in all that happens this week and may we take it with us into every relationship and event! Easter joy, Fr. Dave
Paddy phones an ambulance because his
mate’s been hit by a car.
Paddy: Get an ambulance here quick; he’s bleeding for his nose and ears and I think both his legs are broken.
Operator: What is your location, sir?
Paddy: Outside number 28 Eucalyptus Street.
Operator: How do you spell that, sir?
Silence…(heavy breathing) and after a minute.
Operator: Are you there, sir?
More heavy breathing and another minute later
Operator: Sir, can you hear me?
This goes on for another few minutes until…
Operator: Sir, please, can you hear me?
Paddy: Yes, sorry ‘bout dat. I couldn’t spell eucalyptus so I just dragged him round to Number 3 Oak Street.
When the women got to Jesus’ empty tomb, they were sure someone had moved him too. And, sadly, for many Christians throughout the world, Jesus has been moved—to the back burner. He no longer occupies the center of our lives as he did in years gone by. However, the fire of Easter and the contagion of its joyful love energize us to do what we can to bring him back to the rightful place he belongs. Ham and jelly beans, family and friends, lilies and new clothes serve as great backdrop to what this feast is all about: Jesus Christ and the life he brings—not only to eternity but to our every day on the way. Let us rejoice, then, in the hopes that tomorrow will be as filled with Easter joy as is today, that this new life will spill over to work and school, and that next Sunday we will praise God with as much gusto as this Sunday. Have a wonderful day and an even more wonderful life-journey!
Easter joy, Fr. Dave
A woman was at her hairdresser’s getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the beautician, who responded, “Rome? Why would anybody go there? It’s crowded and dirty and now, with a new Pope, it’ll be a mob scene. You’re crazy. So, how are you getting there? “We’re taking Continental,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!” “Continental?” exclaimed the hairdresser. “That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they are always late. So where are you staying in Rome?” “We’ll be at this exclusive little place on the Tiber River called Il Tiempo.” “Don’t go any further. I know the place. Everybody thinks it’s going to be something special and exclusive, but it’s really a dump.” “We’re going to see the Vatican and the new Pope.” “Yeah, sure you are,” laughed the hairdresser, “You and a million other people. He’ll look the size of an ant. Good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.”
A month later, the woman came back in for a new hair appointment. The beautician asked her about her trip to Rome. “It was wonderful,” exclaimed the woman, “not only were we on time in one of Continental’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked so we got to fly first class. The food and the wine were wonderful and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great. They’d just finished a $5 million euro remodeling job and now it’s the jewel of the city. They even gave us a suite at no extra charge.” “Well,” muttered the hairdresser, “that’s all well and good, but I know you didn’t get to see the new Pope.” “Actually, we were quite lucky,” explained the woman, “because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard came up to us and said that the new Holy Father wanted to meet some random visitors so we were selected to meet him in his private chapel. Sure enough, five minutes later, in he walked and shook my hand. I knelt down and he spoke a few words right to me!” “Oh, really,” said the hairdresser, “What did he say?” He said, “Who screwed up your hair?”
It is truly amazing how some folks can be so negative all the time, always seeing the proverbial bottle as half empty, always focusing on what’s wrong rather than what’s wonderful. Some are already complaining about our new Pontiff and some, of course, would have complained no matter whom the cardinals chose. Back at the ranch here, some will be complaining about how long today’s reading from the Passion is, how dragged out all the Holy Week services are, and how crowded it will be for Easter with all those people who “only come to church twice a year and then expect me to give up my seat!!!” Ah yes, isn’t it wonderful how whiny we can be when we are about to celebrate the holiest week of the year and, even more so, the salvation it celebrates! When all the complaining happens, let us simply do what Christ did on his road to Calvary—smile and move on, praying for them, for “they know not what they do.”
Seriously, the services are longer than usual, but they are so rich in meaning and celebratory ritual. Please come and join in the festivities. They only happen once a year and they simply wouldn’t be the same without you.
In all the love and humility of Holy Week, Fr. Dave
Two women were sitting next to each other at a bar. After a while, one looks at the other and says, “I can’t help but think, from listening to you, that you’re from Ireland.” The other woman responds proudly, “So am I! And where in Ireland are ya from?” The other woman answers, “I’m from Killarney, I am.” The first one responds, “So am I! And what street did ya live on in Killarney?” The other woman says, “A lovely little area in the west end. I lived on Warbury St. in the old part of town.” The first one says, “Faith, and it’s a small world. So did I! So did I! And what school did ya go to?” The other woman answers, “Well, now, I went to the Holy Heart of Mary, of course.” The first one gets really excited and says, “So did I! Tell me, what year did ya graduate?” The other woman says, “Well, now, let’s see. I graduated in 1974.” The first woman exclaims, “The Good Lord must be smilin’ down on us! I can hardly believe our good luck at winding up in the same pub tonight! Can you believe it? I graduated from Holy Heart of Mary in ’74 me self.” About this time, Michael walks into the pub, sits down, and orders a beer. Brian, the bartender, walks over to Michael shaking his head and mutters, “It’s going to be a long night tonight.” Michael asks, “And why do ya say that?” Brian answers, “The Murphy twins are drunk again!”
It’s always the women who are getting picked on (although most St. Paddy’s jokes are about men who are drinking). In the Gospel this weekend, it’s no different. If the woman was caught in the “very act of adultery,” where’s the guy? He gets off scot free? Something’s not right with this picture! But, be that as it may, and taking into account the cultural biases of the time, Jesus cuts through it all and proclaims that mercy is for God to give and judgment is for God to make. That leaves you and me off the hook. Making judgments is not our role in the community of disciples, and only God is as merciful as we would all someday like to be.
Holy Week begins next weekend. Let us journey together into the arms of a loving God and bring everyone along with us, regardless of how sinful we might think they are. All are worthy of God’s love and mercy; all are welcome to walk with Christ into Jerusalem, on to Calvary, and ultimately to the empty tomb. Let us prepare well this week for all that is about to unfold before us!
Erin go bragh! Fr. Dave
Each Friday night after work, Ole would fire up his outdoor grill on the shore of Big Stone Lake and cook a venison steak. But…all of Ole’s friends and neighbors were Catholic and, since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Friday. The delicious aroma from the grilled steaks wafted over Ortonville all the way to Clinton and was finally causing such a temptation for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest. The priest came to visit Ole and suggested that he become Catholic. After several classes and much study, Ole attended Mass and, as the priest sprinkled holy water over him, said, “You were born a Lutheran, you were raised a Lutheran, but now you are a Catholic.” Ole’s neighbors were relieved, until Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison filled the neighborhood. The priest was called immediately by the neighbors and, as he rushed into Ole’s yard prepared to scold him, he stopped and watched in amazement. There stood Ole, clutching a small bottle of holy water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat, all the while chanting, “You were born a deer, you were raised a deer, but now you are a walleye.”
Conversion takes a lot more than a few sprinkles of holy water, as those who are in the RCIA process are well aware. It also presumes, of course, that there is an ongoing inner conversion happening as well—not only in the hearts of those preparing to officially join the Church at the Easter Vigil, but in our hearts as well. It is what Lent is all about—turning to the Light that is Jesus Christ!
Conversion took place in the hearts of our Gospel characters in this weekend’s parable of the prodigal son. The younger brother had a change of heart as he returned home to his father. His father had to be able to forgive his son for taking off and wasting his inheritance before he could run down the road to embrace him. The mother (although unmentioned in the story) undoubtedly was in constant prayer as she supported her husband and other son throughout the whole ordeal. The only one whose heart was not turned toward God in the telling of the parable was the elder brother. One can only hope that conversion eventually took place after his brother was home for a while.
How about you and me? Has there been any conversion in the first half of Lent? If yes, praise God; if not, there is still time to look within and decide to come home to the Father. May these days be filled with moments of grace as we journey together to Calvary and the empty tomb!
Lenten blessings, Fr. Dave
A man and his friend Schultz were walking down the street and a car honked the horn and the passengers shouted, “Hey Schultz!” His friend said to him, “You know them?” Schultz answered, “Yes, I do. Everyone knows Schultz.” Another car rode by and they honked and shouted, “Hey Schultz!” His friend commented, “You know them too?” Schultz answered, “Yes, everyone knows Schultz!” His friend got sick of it and decided to put him to the test. “You can’t know everyone. I bet you don’t know the governor!” Schultz answered, “Oh, yes. Walker and I go way back.” They bet $20 and drove down to Madison. Sure enough, Schultz and Governor Walker were good friends. His friend begrudgingly gave him the $20 and said, “You can’t know everyone.” Schultz said, “Sorry, everyone knows Schultz.” His friend then bet him $50 that he didn’t know the president. They flew to Washington D.C. and met the president. Sure enough, Schultz knew him too. His friend paid the bet and tried very hard to think of someone Schultz couldn’t know. Then he had an idea. Schultz was not Catholic so he couldn’t possibly know the pope. They flew to Rome and Schultz said to him, “You stand here in the square right under the Pope’s balcony and I will come out with the Pope.” When Schultz and Pope Benedict came out to wave to the people, Schultz looked down to make sure his friend was watching. He saw him, collapsed on the ground, so he ran down to see if he was all right. When he got there, his friend sat up and said, “When I saw you come out with the Pope, the woman next to me said, ‘Who’s that old guy in the robes next to Schultz?”
The worldwide interest in the retirement of the Holy Father as well as whom his successor will be is amazing. The presence and impact of the Christ through the Church is like none other. As he feels called to spend the rest of his days in prayer and meditation (and possibly write another book), the prayers of 1.3 billion Catholics and countless numbers of others across the world go with him. No matter how deep his solitude, he will neither be forgotten nor go unrecognized. And may his example of courage and faithfulness inspire all of us to listen to the call and follow direction which the Lord gives us!
As we await the cardinals’ choice for our next Holy Father, may the Holy Spirit fill their hearts with wisdom and confidence that he will be the one the Lord has chosen!
Vive il Papa! Fr. Dave
From someone named Alice…
My name is Alice and I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist. I noticed his DDS diploma on the wall, which bore his full name. Suddenly I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-haired boy with the same name who had been in my high school class some 35 years ago. Could he be the same guy that I had such a crush on way back then? Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought. This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply-lined face was way too old to have been my classmate. After he had examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Park High School. “Why, yes…yes, I did. I’m a Mustang,” he beamed proudly. “When did you graduate?” I asked. “Class of ’77,” he said. “Why do you ask?” “You were in my class!” I exclaimed. He looked at me closely. Then, that ugly, old, bald, wrinkle-faced, fat, gray-haired, decrepit, jerk asked, “What did you teach?”
The Transfiguration-event of Jesus and his three friends up on the mountain did not restore his youth or even turn the light on for the apostles who were trying to figure out just who this Jesus was. It was simply an intense God-encounter which changed their lives and reaffirmed their commitment to follow the One whom they would later call “the Christ.” Religious experiences, while hard to orchestrate on demand, can become more proximate if we are willing to place ourselves in an environment where they are more likely to occur—a church pew, a retreat, a mission trip, or even a bowl of soup for a sick neighbor.
I am part of a Cursillo team this weekend where thirty-some men are “likely” to experience a Transfiguration-event, drawing us closer to the Christ whom we follow. Please pray that it will be a graced moment in time for all of us. These opportunities are hard to sell. Between work and sports and family obligations, very few are willing to say “yes” when invited. Nevertheless, Jesus keeps asking each of us to go up the mountain with him. It makes me wonder whether Peter, James, and John were the only ones he asked, or if the other nine (or perhaps many more) said, “No, I’m too busy.” Wherever we find ourselves at the moment of reading this, may we listen a little more closely to His call and a little more willing to say, “Yes, I’ll accompany you up the mountain.”
Happy Lent! Fr. Dave
Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly for the last 50 years. He was 71.
Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, the Hostess Twinkies (who are also near death), and Captain Crunch. The grave site was oiled high with flours. Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Born in Minnesota, Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.
Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 30 minutes.
Thankfully, Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that one does not survive on bread alone and, as we begin this Lenten season, it might be good for us to remember that insight. And let us, rather, look to the Word of God and the example of Jesus for sustenance. The temptations to renege on our Lenten commitments (various forms of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving) are already huge (some were blaming Fr. Dan, in fact, for not considering Sundays as days of Lent), but the Pillsbury Doughboy can serve as a reminder to us of what it is that we take with us into eternity (and it’s not Paczkis).
Let us regroup and begin again (those first few days since Ash Wednesday are just trials—Lent really begins today) as we strive to, as Jesus did, say to Satan, “Get lost! I’m stronger than you’ll ever be!” May these days of grace fill our hearts with love, our wills with resolve, and our souls with great peace!
Lenten blessings, Fr. Dave
Two buddies entered a chocolate shoppe. As they were busy looking around, one of them stole three chocolate bars. As they left the store, he said to his friend, “Man, I’m the best thief ever. I stole three chocolate bars and no one saw me. You can’t beat that.” The friend replied, “You want to see something better? Let’s go back to the shop and I’ll show you real thievery.” So they went to the counter and he said to the shopkeeper, “Do you want to see magic?” The shopkeeper replied, “Sure!” The guy said, “Give me one chocolate bar.” The shopkeeper gave him one and he ate it. He then asked for a second bar and he ate that one as well. He then asked for a third and he finished that one off. The shopkeeper said, “But where’s the magic?” The guy replied, “Check my friend’s pocket and you’ll find all three bars.”
It’s Bishop’s Appeal Weekend here at St. Francis and the cynics among us might just think, “This is highway robbery, or, at best, robbing Peter to pay Paul.” But we are part of a larger Church and the work that is done on the diocesan level in so many areas of Christian life is amazing. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical too, until I worked in the Vocations Office for seven years. Then I saw first-hand how many lives were touched through Catholic Charities, the Education and Youth Ministry Departments, the Lay and Diaconate Formation Offices, and so many others. As a Church, we are only as alive as we are willing to support one another. Let us be generous in our response and grateful in our faith!
Lent starts Wednesday. You all have received our Lenten calendar in the mail and hopefully it has found a prominent place on your refrigerator, not only to spare the office all the “What time is…?” phone calls, but to remind you to join us for as many opportunities-for-growth as your schedule permits. Let us grow together in faith during these holy days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and be totally renewed as we gather for Easter!
Happy Fasting! Fr. Dave
After being married for thirty years, a wife asked her husband to describe her. He looked into her eyes for a few moments and then said, “You’re A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K! She then asked, “What does that mean?” He said, “Adorable, Beautiful, Cute, Delightful, Elegant, Foxy, Gorgeous, Hilarious. She smiled and said, “Oh, that’s so beautiful. But what about the I J K?” He said, “I’m Just Kidding!” The swelling in his eye is going down nicely and he should be able to chew again soon.
Last week Jesus came home, went into the synagogue and was a hero! This weekend he finishes his “talk” to his neighbors and friends and is run out of town. Had he said, “I’m just kidding,” they may have responded more favorably, but he couldn’t renege on the truth. Is honesty the best policy? Sometimes, silence is a virtue. But when it comes to the Word of God, it must be proclaimed and the chips must be allowed to fall where they may. That being said, we proclaim and live our faith in the most compassionate and tolerant ways possible. Jesus, while being forthright about his beliefs, welcomed into his circle, Samaritans and prostitutes and Pharisees and all the rest. Once he had touched their lives with his love, he could then proclaim the truth. May we, too, follow that method of evangelization—no condemning, only loving, and then preach the Gospel. Or as our patron, St. Francis always said, “Preach the Gospel always and, if you must, use words!” And may the St. Blaise throat blessing this weekend make our words even sweeter!
Love, Fr. Dave
Here’s a test in which the student received a 0%. I think he or she deserves a re-correction.
Q1. In which battle did Napoleon die? His last battle.
Q2. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
At the bottom of the page.
Q3. The River Ravi flows in what state? Liquid.
Q4. What is the main reason for divorce? Marriage.
Q5. What can you never eat for breakfast? Lunch and dinner.
Q6. What is the major reason for failure? Exams.
Q7. What looks like half an apple? The other half.
Q8. If you throw a red stone into a blue see, what will it become? Wet.
Q9. How can a man go eight days without sleeping?
No problem, he sleeps at night.
Q10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
You’ll never find an elephant with one hand.
Q11. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have? Very large hands.
Q12. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it? No time at all, the wall is already built.
Q13. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it? Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.
I think the kid deserves 100%.
In the Gospel this weekend, as Jesus goes home and wows the people in the synagogue, he becomes the “local kid who made good,” until later on in the Gospel when he ruffles a few feathers. Then he’s driven out of town. Each generation wants its kids to do well and we invest much time and prayer and money into assuring that happens. As we enter into our annual Catholic Schools Week, I, for one, am extremely proud of both St. Francis of Assisi and Roncalli Catholic Schools. I am also most grateful for the ongoing support our children and staff receive from not only parents and family-members, but from the entire parish community. We are excellent schools because of the conviction of those who have gone before us to lay the foundation for Catholic education in Manitowoc and those who today lay the foundation for those generations who will come after us. The witnessing to our faith and the generosity with which we support our Church is never for our own benefit, but always for others. I am the faith-filled person I am because of my parents and grandparents, and our children, when they become adults, will recognize that as well. Blessings on all those for whom Catholic Schools Week is a true celebration of faith and love.
A pastor decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm was out into a container of chocolate syrup and the fourth into a container of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the sermon, the minister reported the following results: the first worm in the alcohol…dead! The second worm in the cigarette smoke…dead! The third worm in the chocolate syrup…dead! The fourth worm in the good clean soil…alive! So the pastor asked the congregation, “What did you learn from this demonstration?” Maxine was sitting in the back pew, quickly raised her hand and said, “As long as you drink, smoke, and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!”
Maxine would read today’s Gospel and think, “Jesus wants us to party on!” While he most certainly does want us to socialize and enjoy life, the 150 gallons of wine were not intended for those wedding guests to get trashed. Rather, the wine (symbolic of the joy that is ours as his disciples) manifests the generosity of God. None of us can ever out-love God. None of us can ever adequately repay God for the gift of his love. Thus, we celebrate well the goodness of God and thank him through the way we live our lives—serving others in his name. And while many of us may raise a glass now and then, the real toasting comes in extending our hands in service. May we serve one another well and come to know the joy of life in God’s kingdom, where the wine of love will never run out!
A teacher was helping one of her little pupils put on his boots. He had asked for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and pushing, they still didn’t want to go on. By the time they had gotten the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when he said, “They’re on the wrong feet.” She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than putting them on. But she managed to keep her cool as, together, they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the correct feet. He then announced, “These aren’t my boots!” She bit her tongue, rather than get right in his face and scream, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to do. Once again she struggled to help him pull the boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, “They’re my brother’s boots. My mom made me wear ‘em.” Now she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry, but she mustered up enough grace and courage to wrestle those same boots onto his feet once again. Helping him into his coat, she asked, “Now, where are your mittens?” He said, “I stuffed ‘em in the toes of my boots!” (She will be eligible for parole in three years.)
It’s too bad the Gospel writers didn’t ask Jesus more about his childhood (although Mary probably didn’t make him wear boots in Palestine), because we jump ahead this weekend to Jesus’ baptism and the beginning of his public ministry. Although liturgically this feast is incorporated into the Christmas Season, His birth seems like a distant memory.
But that’s how life is: in the blink of an eye we move on. Our children grow up and stretch their wings and begin their own journeys down the life paths that they choose, even while we still watch and pray that their choices be good ones. Perhaps Mary and Joseph were also watching and praying while Jesus was being baptized by his friend and trailblazer. Perhaps they were wondering what it all meant. Perhaps they, too, were baptized. There is so much left unrecorded in the Word of God (of course, it was not meant to be historical or biographical, but theological, so there’s not a lot of “cutesy” material), that we can only wonder. But that “graced wondering” is often the root of meditation and what better month than January to spend time doing that! Let us, then, imagine ourselves on the shoreline of the Jordan River and begin to pull the pieces together in holy and creative wondering!
Winter blessings, Fr. Dave
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4-5 year-olds: “What does love mean?”
Here are some replies…
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.”
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.”
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making the give you any back.”
“Love is when my Mommy makes coffee for my Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, just to make sure the taste is okay.”
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you hate.”
“Love is like and old woman and an old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.”
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.”
“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and then has to go out and buy new ones.”
“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.”
and finally… “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
There was a lot of love shared with all of us this Christmas; the gifts were as precious as those shared with the Christ Child by the Magi. The prayers, the treats, the cards and gifts shared with Fr. Dick and Fr. William and myself were overwhelming. The time that so many put into decorating our churches, assisting at the liturgies, and taking gifts to those confined to their homes was absolutely marvelous. We are a graced faith-community and as the Magi took their gifts to present to the baby Jesus, so we share our gifts with one another. And that same Jesus smiles at us in gratitude for our love. May this self-giving never end; Let us make every day an epiphany of love!
Gratefully, Fr. Dave
Calvary Cemetery Memorial Day Mass - Ritual of Transference of Manitowoc Catholic Cemetery Properties - May 28, 2011
Statement from Bishop Ricken:
I am happy to announce today that, after careful consultation and consideration, the Diocese of Green Bay will return Calvary Cemetery, St. Mary Cemetery and St. Peter Cemetery back to their rightful owners: the local Catholic Church of Manitowoc. This transference of cemetery properties will take effect on July 1st of this year.
Since 1984, the Diocese of Green Bay has managed and owned these cemetery properties. However, the heritage of these cemeteries rests with the ministry and mission of the Catholic Church in this area -- a parish and cemetery history that extends back to the 19th century.
I pray that these cemeteries will continue to be cared for in a manner that is worthy of their purpose: to provide Catholic cemeteries that bury the dead with a deep reverence for the body and spiritual support to the loved ones who remain.
In conclusion, I present to you this scroll of deeds. May God bring to fruition the good work that has begun in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our promise of salvation.
Statement from Fr. Dan:
Bishop Ricken, the Catholic Community of Manitowoc will continue to care for these cemeteries in a manner that is worthy of their purpose. To that end, I have directed that a corporation be formed which will be known as Calvary Cemetery of Manitowoc, Inc. This cemetery corporation will work hand in hand with St. Francis of Assisi Parish to care for and manage all four of our Catholic Cemeteries (Calvary Cemetery, St. Peter Cemetery on S. 26th Street, St. Mary Cemetery across from Felician Village and Old St. Mary Cemetery off of Rapids Road).
It is so important that we bury those who have died in a manner that is holy and respectful. As a parish community, we embrace the challenge of managing these four cemeteries as part of our Godly mission to bury the dead as we walk with those who grieve the loss of a loved one. In the months and years ahead, there will be many ways that we will be asked to share in this special ministry and mission of caring for the well-being of what will now become our cemeteries.
February 22nd Parish Town Hall Meeting Information:
Parish Visioning Process
Earlier this year we did a survey in our parish (along with every other parish in the diocese) as to what are our best examples of parish vitality and life and what are our hopes and dreams for parish life into the future. In our parish alone we had over 1375 surveys returned and collated. These were the results of those surveys:
Top five examples of parish vitality and life:
- Alive and vibrant celebrations of the Mass
- Celebration and spirit of the LifeTeen Mass
- Vibrancy and variation of music and singing at the Mass
- The involvement of the community in the ministry & mission of the parish & school
- Priest homilies
Top five hopes and dreams for the future of our parish:
- Get even more parishioners involved in the life of the parish
- Increase the number of parishioners who celebrate the Sunday Mass
- Enhance ministry of our youth, young adults and families
- Create more community building events
- Provide for a financial stability
SFA School Campus Reorganization
For over 150 years, our Parish Catholic school has sought to enrich our heart and soul. The patterns of our organization and the buildings that we use for our Catholic School education have changed countless times, but the purpose and mission of our Catholic School has remained the same: immerse our children into an education and experience of the Catholic faith to form their body, heart and soul as disciples of the Lord.
After much deliberation, the Board of Education has decided to move from the current three campus to a two campus structure beginning with the Fall 2011 school year. Additionally, the Board of Education approved the transition of the current fourth grade class to attend fifth grade at the St. Francis of Assisi Middle School campus at that same time. This decision will allow us to keep the tuition for next year the same as this year at $1,700 per student, with no increase; will keep all of our programs and services in place; and will provide for a $40,000 re-duction in parish subsidy to $1,235,000.
Next year the Preschool through fourth grades will be housed at the St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School campus (located at the Waldo site) and the fifth through eighth grades will be housed at the St. Francis of Assisi Middle School campus (located at the Marshall site).
A Parish Facilities Committee has established a process to be utilized when a parish building becomes available: discern if the property can be used for other parish programs & services; go to the community at large to see if there are community programs and services who may want to lease or buy the available property; if there is no parish nor community need for the property then dispose of the building and ready it for another use such as parking, gathering space, etc. This process will be utilized for the Xavier Campus as it becomes available next Fall.
The restructuring of our school campus structure will provide for a good sense of stability and direction until our new Catholic school is built on Michigan Avenue.