At a recent children’s Mass that I attended, the Gospel reading for the day was from Luke 12:49-53 where Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Christ continued to explain that father would be against son, mother against daughter, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and so on.
After the reading, the priest spoke to the children and said, “That doesn’t sound like Jesus. In the Gospel, he said one person would be against another person even in families; but Jesus came to unify people not to divide them. He wouldn’t want us to be against each other.”
Then the priest explained that what Jesus was talking about was how sometimes we disagree about Jesus and what he wants of us. The priest gave the example of going to Mass, when some family members do not want to go. He said, “You know, boys and girls, sometimes Moms and Dads don’t want to go to Mass on Sunday. You might tell them, ‘but we’re Catholic, we have to go to Mass on Sunday’ and they might say, ‘well we are sleeping in, we are not going.’ That’s the division that Jesus was talking about.”
I was so struck by what this priest had to say. The division and conflict in the Catholic Church does not come from outside sources. It doesn’t even come from high ranking officials. The unrest and lack of peace in the Church comes from within each one of us, especially in our families.
When we turn away from what Jesus has taught, we experience an unsettled hunger. Our peace is gone. By embracing the teachings of Christ, we are fostering a peace with deep roots of comfort for ourselves. It is truly our free-will gift to choose –away from Jesus and sorrow or toward Jesus and joy.
A while ago I heard an elderly person struggling with issues of old age say that in his life Jesus endured every kind of human suffering except old age. I thought how true, he was only 33 years old when he died. He could not have faced any challenges that we might experience as we grow older. However, I recently realized how wrong that statement was.
Consider Jesus today. It is really, truly Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist – body, soul and divinity. All that was Jesus during his 33 years of life on Earth is all present as the Eucharist. Certainly for us as humans, the visual presence of Jesus has changed, but that does nothing to alter the fact that it is the same Jesus. With that in mind consider what he continues to endure in his “old age”.
Like a person confined to home or a health facility, Jesus waits for his brothers and sisters to come visit him, he can not go out to them without help. He sees that some come willingly, anxious to be with him. He sees those who come grudgingly, inattentive, sharing nothing with him. He sees those who are distracted, focused on something else. He sees those who smile and those who scowl. He witnesses the closeness of some and the distance of others. Perhaps most of all, he is painfully aware of those who did not come at all. Jesus knows exactly what it is like to be immobile and unable to communicate.
With that in mind, how are we responding to Jesus in his “old age”? Do we come willingly and openly to Mass? Do we participate and include everyone? Do we make time to share an extra visit with Jesus in addition to Sunday Mass? Do we take advantage of Eucharistic Adoration to gaze on him? Are we aware of his look of love toward us?
Sometimes our worship as Catholics is picked apart because it is different from other religious denominations. It needs to be different. It can not be the same as a social gathering – the King of the Universe is in our midst. We can not receive the host without reverence – we hold the Savior of the World. The reverence of the priest and the people is the only way we have to outwardly communicate that Catholic worship is different because present physically in our gathering is God.
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?
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.
I talked to my travel agent this week to check on a return trip to New Zealand. It looks like there’s a spot for me in mid-January. I can’t wait to return. I’ll be away from Putnam County for ten days. Ten days goes so fast so I want to do as many fun things as possible. The country has so much to offer like mountains, beaches, hiking and biking, wineries, cafes and cows. New Zealand is known for its natural beauty – I may not know where to start.
But I do know where to start, and that is with all the people I miss. As a parish priest of small parishes, you get to know people pretty quickly. I’m not going back just to see one of the world’s most beautiful countries. The warmth of the people is calling.
This weekend I’ll canoe with a group of high school seniors from our church. I had to check out the conditions of the river on Tuesday to make sure everything was good for the kids later in the week. On the trip down the mighty Blanchard River, we saw lots of birds (including a bald eagle), a raccoon and squirrels, fish jumping into our boat and just the calm of leaves falling from the trees above the river. We hope to offer the kids a day of beauty and calm away from texting and cell phones.
Putnam County has a lot to offer. Some refer to it as God’s Country.
Last weekend, people from all over came back to Kalida for Pioneer Days. It was a nice weekend, with tons of people coming back to Putnam County for all the best it has to offer. The parade route was filled, as was the downtown square. As I drove our church float, it was a nice feeling to see all the people joined on a glorious day.
People from New Zealand ask me what Putnam County offers. I could tell them about the eagle on The Blanchard, the rich heritage of the people and its beautiful churches and the flat, productive farmland, but I would rather tell them about what happens at Pioneer Days: people gathering for friendship.
During Pioneer Days, the offer of a hand of friendship was offered hundreds, maybe thousands of times. Many times the offer came with the offer of a beer – it seems the German thing to do. Ever since I was shot when I was eight years old, my stomach can’t do certain foods and beverages. I can’t do apple juice, Hawaiian punch, Sunkist Orange or beer . It is easy for me to say no to this offer of liquid hospitality and to be able to tell the difference between the offer of friendship and the offer of a beer.
It is not just a weak stomach that makes me say no to the beer, either. I do worry that sometimes our young people can’t distinguish between the offerings. Somehow beer, hospitality and friendship fused together in this community. With my stomach injury I said no to the one offer and yes to the other offer quite easily. But our young people and others who want to avoid alcohol may find it difficult becuase they don’t want to reject the offer of hospitality and friendship.
In New Zealand the offer of hospitality also included a drink: usually a hot beverage of tea, coffee, milo (hot chocolate) or hot water. In this German community the welcome comes out, “Want a beer?” Translation: “It’s good to see you, welcome to our home.”
This area offers so much. Just like New Zealand, the greatest gift is the gift of its people. The kindness, hospitality and friendship keep people coming back. When people from New Zealand ask what the area offers, I tell them to come and meet the people. They offer the best the world can give.
Hi to all you bloggers. After a week off, I’m ready to get back in the saddle. Last week, I kind of bucked and kicked a bit, but now I’m settled in again. After a tough week, sometimes it is nice to settle back into something comfortable and familiar, even on a spiritual nature.
For many people, the Sunday Mass is a comfort from life’s adventurous ride. The familiar prayers with familiar people praising a familiar God brings peace to the close of a hectic week, and begins the new week with the hope of promised blessings.
I love the Mass. Even though I get scared every time I have to preach,I enjoy the blessings of the Lord with great people. Even in a big church like St. Michael’s I see everyone and everything. I pray for families who have shared stories of life and death with me. I pray for parents with little ones who make it hard to pray. I pray with joy as I see newlyweds returning from honeymoons. Sometimes it is hard to pray because I’ve had a tough week, weekend or night, but the opportunity to celebrate Godly moments and God’s love with so many keeps me coming back.
In October, I will be talking about the Mass during the sermon time. I know that many people have questions about the Mass. If you could get those to me before I do my talks, I will try to answer some of them within the talks. It’s nice to be back in the saddle again.