Catholic Community Commentary

Posts tagged “prayer

Jesus Came to Divide Us?

            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.

Jan Kahle


Komen…What’s the Controversy?

            Recently Bishop Blair wrote a letter concerning fund-raising for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. His clear statement addressed the problem of cancer research and the use of embryonic stem cells. While Susan G. Komen ofNorthwest Ohiodoes not directly fund cancer research, it does send 25% of the collected donations to the parent company which does offer grants for cancer research.

          Bishop Blair is responsible for imparting the teaching of the Catholic Faith to the people ofNorthwest Ohio. It is a responsibility that he neither takes lightly nor can choose to ignore. In that capacity, the Bishop addressed the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, one of those teachings. Since some cancer research institutions use unwanted embryos from fertility centers for their research, there is potential that these small human lives are not being respected.

          In addition to support of life in the womb, Bishop Blair also offered support for those struggling with cancer when he suggested directing donations to the Mercy Cancer Centers. The Northwest Ohio Susan G. Komen Foundation had been sending money to the Mercy Cancer Centers as part of their outreach so the Bishop’s suggestion does not diminish this work.

          It is very important for us to realize that any past fund-raising we may have done for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, done in good faith, was not wrong. However, knowing what we do now, it is important to direct our donations to life-affirming organizations.

          Finally, since embryonic stem cells have been used in research, they have never been proven to assist with any medical condition. In fact, they react much like cancer cells. On the other hand, adult stem cells, which harm no human being, have been proven to help with leukemia, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, juvenile diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, heart damage, corneal damage, and dozens of other conditions. Just from a scientific perspective, it does not make sense to direct funds to research that has proven itself ineffective and away from such a viable alternative.

          I would hope, though, that we would approach this issue through the eyes of faith. I pray that as Catholics we can see that when we treat any human being, no matter how small or vulnerable, as less than dignified, we tear at the very fabric of our own humanity, our connection to the Creator.

Jan Kahle, Respect Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Toledo


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

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.


Parents, It’s Time for You to Talk to Your Kids about the Three Letter Word

Hi to everyone.  Last week was supposed to be Catechetical Sunday in the parish, but I got sidelined.  So it has been pushed back to this Sunday.  So I’d like to put in a plug for teaching. 
Many people admit that it is a difficult time for children.  They get so many messages out there.  So much of our children’s time is spent with technology; television, phones and computers.  Who or what is teaching our kids the important lessons of life.  Believe it or not, children still learn from their parents.  Parents are still the largest influence on their children.  So on this catechetical weekend, here’s a salute to parents.
So have you had that talk with your kids yet?  Fathers, have you had that talk with your sons?  Moms, have you explained where life comes from to your daughters?  Do they know about the birds and the bees and heard it from a reputable source?  There is a lot of information out there and not all accurate.  It is a subject that is difficult to talk about.  How do you get started?  Will it be embarassing to the kids?  You would think that a discussion about a three letter word wouldn’t be so difficult.  I still remember when my dad talked to me. 
Yes, I remember when my dad talked to me about “God”.  What three letter word were you thinking of?   
Yes, it was my intention to trick you.  In our society, we hear so much language about so many things including other three letter words.  God language used to be part of our vocabulary and social gatherings and home life. 
With children being so busy with their own social lives, where do they get to learn the real life lessons: that God is the source of all life?  There is no substitute to the home.  Religion classes and going to church are good complements to what is taught in the home.  But speaking in religious language seems to be difficult to do.  I was blessed to have parents that spoke about their faith and backed it up by going to church and practiced it in the home. 
On this Catechetical Sunday, I challenge all families to claim their faith, to claim God.  God has claimed us.  Shouldn’t we do the same and do it for our families.  If you aren’t praying in your homes at table or at bed time with your kids, make a start.  God is everywhere.  Shouldn’t He be in your home?
Sorry to have tricked you but wasn’t that easier to talk about than the other three letter word?  Talk God this week.    


What’s the BEST part of Putnam County?

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.


Mass-a comfort zone?

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.


2 Women in Toledo Choose Life

Jan Kahle received the following email last week from Ann Barrick, of the Pro Life Connection, about two girls who chose life after contemplating abortion (when approached at the Center for Choice, in Toledo, OH).  Jan wanted as many people as possible to hear this story:

PRAISE GOD!!  Two women chose life for their babies this evening!!  I thought you might like to hear the stories…  Enjoy!

A young couple passed by a sidewalk counselor as they went into the abortion center.  The man took the information that the counselor offered but didn’t stop to talk, just looked at her strangely.  Five minutes later, he walked out of the center right to her and stood there.  She asked him if he wanted to talk.  He said, “I just can’t stay inside that place!  It’s so depressing!”  The counselor talked to the man for awhile, and he kept trying to justify the abortion.  Meanwhile, 3 teens, 1 pre-teen and a woman was praying on the sidewalk in front while another counselor was across the alley praying.  God touched the man’s heart at some point in the conversation because he softened and eventually listened to the advice, “Go fight for your baby!”  He said, “I’m going to go talk to her!”

Not much later, a girl and her mother came out and walked over to get rosaries from the counselor.  They were there to schedule an abortion but told me that the plan had changed!  The mother of the girl was in the room when the ultrasound was done, and when she saw on the screen her grandchild move, she said, “You’re not aborting my grandbaby!”  Her daughter is 7 months along!!   And that baby could be aborted!!  Thanks be to God that the grandmother saw that ultrasound!!

As the girl was showing the ultrasound photo to the counselor, the young man mentioned earlier walked by so the counselor asked him to come look at the photo.  After a few minutes of looking and talking, he told the counselor, “Go talk to her!”   His girlfriend came over and talked to the counselor and told her that she wasn’t going to have an abortion.  She said that her boyfriend had changed his mind after talking to the counselor and that helped her because she had seen “the children praying” and that made her not want to go through with it!!

PRAYER AND WITNESS!!  The girl who’s mother saw the ultrasound—she was the recipient of prayers even if she never talked to anyone!!  The same with the young woman—and the presence of those young people touched a chord.  It is SO important that we never forget the power of prayer and witness!!

I also want to put a plug in for Heartbeat Pregnancy Center which is located across the alley from the Center for Choice.  They, along with all pregnancy centers, are crucial in the pro-life movement.  However, they particularly need our help since they ARE located near the abortion center!  They need financial help to get an ultrasound machine and all the expenses that  go along with it.  Can you imagine if they had that and we could just walk someone over for an ultrasound?!?  They also need more volunteers so they can be open longer hours, especially on Thursday evenings.  Please let others know how important our local pregnancy centers are!!

Remember—40 Days for Life is coming and we need you prayer warriors!  However, we are praying at the center year round.  Visit the Stand & Pray page at ProLifeConnection.com for more information!

In Christ our Hope,

Ann


How Prayer led Fr. Mark to the Priesthood

When people ask me how I knew that I wanted to be a priest, I tell them that it was in me.  That feeling has been in me for a while.  Believe me, to give up farming, a wife and kids and a permanent home were hard decisions to make.  I took lots of time to answer these questions with the help of deep prayer.  There were many times I asked God if He was sure because I surely wasn’t that certain.  But when I came down to looking at what was in me, priesthood still came out
When I needed that time to pray deeply, just God and me, I would go to a special place.  At the back of the farm was a corner of property which was not farmed because of a crossing creek.  Small trees, brush, rabbits, deer and lots of song birds were my companions in prayer.  I’d take time out to sit and listen to what was in me and see what was true.  If truth was to set me free, I’d have to listen to God, the Truth.  I’d spend time to see what I could live with or without.  I knew God wished me to live life to the fullest, I just had to figure that out and how I would do that.  As the idea of priesthood kept coming to mind I figured I better give it a shot.  It was only through time in prayer that I could say that it was in me. 
One other reflection was that the tractor was always a special place to pray until something happened-we got a radio on the tractor.  I loved music and would sing loud enough to hear me over the diesel engine and for the neighbors to hear me.  My question for especially the young bloggers is, where do you find your quiet place?  How do you know what is in you so that you can live life to the fullest?  With so many music opportunities out there, and distractions to quiet, where do you pray best? 

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Mass

It’s funny how our attendance at Mass has always been associated with the 10 Commandments, particularly to “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day,” when actually it is for our benefit not God’s. With that in mind, here are five motives to go to Church on Sunday:

  1. 1. To feed a spiritual life – We often hear “I can pray better at home or in the mountains or alone.” Prayer at anytime is wonderful and necessary, but prayer at Mass is unique. It is God’s children gathering to share a meal. One form is not ‘better’ than another but ‘as important’ as the other. We need both types of food to nourish us.
  2. 2. To draw on God’s support – Much like any meal, we are strengthened and renewed to continue our work when we have eaten. If we dine on a meal of foul language and rude behavior, much like junk food, it will have its effect. If we enjoy a meal of God’s Word and the Body & Blood of Christ, it also will have its effect. In the case of Sunday Mass, we are gathering the nourishment we need for eternal life.
  3. To develop community – Just like any family gathering, we need to come together to strengthen our bonds and ties to one another. Just consider how much closer you are to brothers, sisters, or parents whom you see more regularly, as opposed to cousins and grandparents that you might not. 
  4. To strengthen one another – The whole reason for strengthening our bonds and ties through our gathering for Sunday Mass is to be able to support one another. How would I know you without gathering with you? And how can I reach out to you if I don’t know you? We are the physical presence of God in this world, so it’s important to be with one another to do His work.
  5. To worship God – When it comes right down to it, we are built for LOVE. We have an interior desire and pull toward God, who is Love. We often try to fill that desire with things or activities, but we always come away wanting more – that intangible something.  St. Augustine said it best, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

Why should we go to Church on Sunday? For very selfish reasons, to bring about our own peace and joy. God knows that. He even made it a commandment for our sake.

What are your personal reasons for attending mass? Please share them in the comments below.