Catholic Community Commentary

Posts tagged “hope

The Hand of God and Snow Angels

Hi to you bloggers,
     I’ve been away for a while due to vacation and Christmas activities.  It is good to be back.  Today’s topic is seeing the hand of God. 
     Recently, our parish put together something unusual and touching.  We decided to put together a project called “Andy’s Angels in the Outfield.”  An invitation was put out to get participants to line up on a lighted baseball field and to fall backwards into the snow (in zero degree weather) to make snow angels for a recently departed angel named Andy.  Our expectations of a few angels showing up were soon overwhelmed as hundreds of angels showed up for the fundraising event to help the family with expenses due to Andy’s illness.  Although we raised a nice financial nest egg, we raised the spirits of the family and community. 
     To say that we will never forget, and that love will never die, is part of our faith and our hope.  To express that so well on that night will be remembered.  It was truly a God-event for many.  Tears were shed and hearts were touched.
     For me, I had the best seat in the house for the event.  I was in a tower, high above the ball field.  As an organizer, I also knew how things came together.  That itself was the hand of God.  A six inch snowfall days before made for beautiful angels.  The timing of the participants walking in lines across the frozen outfield could not have been better planned.  Everyone was in place with 10 seconds to spare.  The 8 o’clock bell rang, a shout of one, two, three rang across the tundra, and hundreds of angels fell to the earth to flap their wings in support of a fellow family member and friend.  From the tower, it was just like a movie.  Hundreds of colorful angels marching across the snowy white field to land for a moment, before flying in unison while looking into the sky. 
     I have to believe Andy looked down and smiled because we looked up and smiled.  It is not so hard to believe that heaven and earth can be united.  It happened on a snowy field in Ohio.  That day, the hand of God looked like snow angel wings.

Fr. Mark

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Have a Song in Your Hearts this Christmas

Merry Christmas. 

     When it comes to Christmas, I have my favorite songs.  Music always brings me places. 

The “Barking Dogs Jingle Bells” makes me like Happy Gilmore.  I find a happy place. 

The “Carol of the Bells” takes me to a reflective quiet place. 

“Mary Did You Know?” makes me gentle. 

Any Karen Carpenter song makes me a member of a choir, as I love to sing with her. 

“Some Children See Him” makes me an advocate for world unity and peace. 

“I Wonder as I Wonder” makes me extra holy, as I wonder at the plans that God worked through a child, a son, a Messiah.  I wonder how God will touch my life as I begin a new year. 

“The Friendly Beasts” brings me back to a time when I was a farmer and my dad would invite us kids to treat the animals particularly well on Christmas because Jesus came to change all creation.

     Christmas songs move me.  And I truly believe that Christmas is supposed to move us also.  If a song can take us places, how much more can the One, who makes Christmas what it is, take us places we never imagined?  To have a song in one’s heart is one thing.  To have Jesus there is quite another story.  To know we are so loved, through the birth of God’s Son, makes traveling through this world to the next a journey of love.  Love moves us to do amazing things.  Let Christmas move you.  Let the Lord move you, for love is born on Christmas Day.  

   Merry Christmas to all of you.  Have a song in your hearts.  Have the love of God, Jesus, there also, today and every day.       

     I’ll be home for Christmas.  Not because of my traveling, but because He has made His home in me.                                          

Fr. Mark


Embrace the Person You Could Be

     How many times have you heard someone say, “I am what I am, too bad if you don’t like it.”  Challenges come every day, be they small, large or life-changing.  We can embrace those challenges or we can run from them. 

     Everything you experience today helps you become the person you will be tomorrow and helps you grow into the person you were meant to be. Personal growth, the hard way, comes to us through those life-changing situations.  We can take life as it comes and not really spend any time thinking that we need to grow or we can embrace the change, knowing it may not be easy, but we’ll never be the same. 

     Sometimes we can see where others need to grow, but never really think we need to grow.  What is the Bible verse about getting the log out of your own eye? “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3. 

     Everything we experience helps us minister to others.  I have come to know that all our experiences make us who we are, so we can help minister to God’s people.  Happy or sad experiences, all of them, help us grow into who we were destined to become and help us relate to others…God’s plan for us. 

     What a great gift from God that is – to have our experiences and then that, in turn, helps us to “love one another” better.  Love is what it’s all about. Love is the bottom line.  Take some time and let those you love know it.  Thank those who have mentored you and find others who need love and share it. 

     When faced with a decision, always error on the side of love. Prioritize your lives and see what you can get rid of so you can love and have the time for what is important.  Who are you called to be?

– Connie


World’s Smartest Man Addresses Praying for the Deceased

     For years I have been known by my nieces and nephews by a particular title.  It’s not Father or Padre, but the “World’s Smartest Man.”  When we used to play Trivial Pursuit I would always make up great answers which sounded logical to small children.  I told them that the answer was correct because I was the world’s smartest man.  They were just too young to Google the right answer. 

     I do get asked some interesting questions, especially from children.  The question asked this week that caught my attention was, “Why do we pray and have Masses for people who have died?”  It makes us question the feast day last week, All Souls Day.

     Why do we celebrate, as a Church, the memories and lives of those who have died?  Do such celebrations have an effect on our loved ones in the afterlife?  These kids ask tough questions.  Maybe I’m not the world’s smartest man!

     I may not know how our prayers affect those who have died, but I do know that our prayers affirm our faith, hope and love.  We place our loved ones in the loving arms of our God.  We trust in faith the promises of our Savior.  We have hope that they are in peace and that one day we will join them as they behold our Heavenly Father’s face.  In our celebrations, we remember in love and pledge our love to last to eternity.  We come to the Almighty and everlasting to give an eternal reward of peace to our loved ones.  We may not know how our prayers affect those who have died, but we do know that our trust in the Lord is strengthened and nourished.  We celebrate the Communion of Saints and, by praying, come closer to the Communion of Saints, ourselves.  These celebrations and prayers have an effect in our lives.  We are comforted and brought to peace. 

     I may not be the world’s smartest man, but I sure feel better knowing and celebrating that my parents are with God today.    Fr. Mark


Everyone is a Missionary

October 21st is the feast day for St. Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.  When I was considering what type of priest I wanted to be, I reflected on going to a foreign land to spread the knowledge of God.  There are different kinds of priests.  Some minister to a local area (diocesan priests) or others have teaching as their focus (Jesuits), but I chose to be a missionaryA missionary doesn’t always mean going to a different country or culture but an attitude of active preaching, living and learning of our faith.  Missionary is just as much learning God from the people you are living with as much as bringing your idea of God to others.
This past week I got to observe God Happenings right in front of me.  During the tornado watch, the kindergarten through 5th grades came to the basement of St. Michael’s Church.  It was a time of confusion and fear.  For some, this was the first time they felt this fear without their parents being at their side.  We gathered together to put ourselves in the Lord’s care as we prayed.  It helped to pray together and be God’s arms for each other as siblings calmed each other or classmates assured each other with a hug.  The kids were being missionary to me as I witnessed care, concern and love overcome fear and doubt.  I was pretty proud of our young ones.
At the soccer games this week, the missionary spirit came forwardWe prayed for a victory and placed the players in the Lord’s hands.  Even though the victory was not won on the field of soccer, I saw students and parents hanging around to console, comfort and encourage the team and coaches.  This strong sense of community is nice to behold.  When this spirit reaches out from a local community to a world community or even a neighboring community, that is being missionary.
Our faith is played out on many fields and locations not necessarily in a church building.  This week I was reminded what it means to be a missionary.  Thanks to everyone who showed the face of God to me this week.
Have a blessed week.  Fr. Mark

Why Some People Choose Eminem over Emmanuel

My nephew and his wife were on television this week. I told a lot of people to check out the show. They were on a show on Home and Garden channel for first time house buyers.

I have to admit it was pretty neat to see my nephew on national television. His five minutes of fame gave me five minutes of fame.

I also have to let you know that it was my first time watching HG (Home and Garden) television. Real men don’t watch such shows.

Isn’t it funny what we brag about. I’ll associate myself with someone famous  or on television but will distance myself from a perceived woman’s show. I thought it might make for a good discussion or thought provoker when it came to being a Christian.

We will associate with all kinds of music or activities but rarely will tell our friends or colleagues at work that we went to church over the weekend.

We’ll say that we went to a sports event but will shun going to a church retreat. What will others say or think? When did it become so unpopular to be good or go to church? When did everyone’s opinion sway me from doing what is right for me?


How Parents Can Take a Stand

This is a guest post by Connie Cleemput the Director of Religious Education.

Where do you stand on abortion, on underage drinking, on the death penalty?  Where do you stand on taking time to pray as a family, on having a meal together or attending church on Sundays as a family?  Where we stand, so stands our children.  They mirror what we say and do as their parents, as their role models, as they people they look up to.

When practicing songs and prayers for Mass (after three weeks of practice) I mentioned to the First and Second graders to ask their moms and dads to take them to Mass on Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoon.  I said “Your parents will say yes, just ask them.”  I can not tell you how disheartened I was when a second grader told me that he had asked his parents and they said no.

Where do we stand?  How can you, as parents, help your children be the best Catholic they can be?  How can you help them form their consciences so they can make good, moral decisions?

As parents we have a moral obligation and a Catholic obligation to help form and support our children into whom God calls them to be.  Yes, God calls all of us to take a stand.  God has placed these children in our care, knowing and trusting we will do our best to raise them in our Catholic faith.

Take a stand.  Take them to church, pray as a family around the dinner table at least once a day, tell them about God.  Look in the mirror and you will see a reflection of your child.  Listen to your voice and you will hear your child.  Do you like what you see and hear?  Take a stand.