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.
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
Hi, all you bloggers. I have to say that the staff here is crazy and I love it. New ideas are entertained and sometimes they entertain us. One of the latest ideas was to promote our CYO basketball program and get as many people at the game as possible. At a tournament game hosted at our local gym, we would have prizes for anyone who could make a half court shot. To advertise, a short video of me making a half court shot would be featured. By the hand of God, I made the shot on the second attempt and the video project was completed. Now comes the interesting part of the project…
I went to the grade school to show off the video. The kids were congratulatory of my basketball skills and full of wide-eyed hopes that they could win a prize at the game. There were no doubts that such a shot could come from my hand. Next, I next went to the high school building. When they viewed the video, they thought it was a hoax. Somehow the youtube promo was spliced and not real. I had a difficult time convincing the students that it was real. I’m not really sure they ever believed me. And then it was time to show the video to the adults. They, too, were skeptical of my half court shot, although they were not as hard to convince as the teenagers.
This project has made me wonder about our society. Have we been so tricked by so many that belief comes hard? Are we in a society of Thomases? Do people believe me when I preach? Can people tell the difference between truth and fiction?
Who and what we believe comes into question. What is truth for you? That is a question that we will encounter during the Lenten season. Have a great day. I mean it. That’s the truth.
When it comes to Christmas, I have my favorite songs. Music always brings me places.
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.
(Written on Wednesday, Nov. 17)
Hi to all you bloggers,
I’m all excited about tonight’s activities for our teenagers: square dancing. I love to square dance. I grew up with it as part of family weddings and physical education in school. I also square-danced when I used to have a date or two (boy, has that been a while). I still call them for different functions, and now we have this activity as part of our religious education program.
You may ask, “How is square dancing related to religious education?” First of all, my cousin, Fr. Mel Lochtefeld, taught square dancing years ago. Much of our faith comes from tradition. I’m just continuing the tradition.
Next, our students are studying the Theology of the Body. So much is made of what is inappropriate. We thought of a way to teach what is appropriate. Just because you dance with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean that you are dating them.
My nieces and nephews have been square dancing with each other at weddings for years. They’ve been dancing since they’ve been in grade school. To be able to hold hands with boundaries and a purpose is a good thing. So much of what we teach in regards to the physical person is taught in response to fear or suspicion. Dancing gives an outlet for good fun and social appropriateness.
The Church says, in John Paul’s writings on The Theology of the Body, that the physical aspect of man is good. I believe that our square dancing lessons will bring out the good in our students and respect for the physical person.
If you’ve ever seen our students in sports, you know how physical they can be. Tonight, they can see how they can work together to dance with the stars. We need a name for our class. “Dancing with the Stars” is taken. Maybe someone can come up with a good name.
I’m off to practice my Li’l Liza Jane.
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.
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.