Catholic Community Commentary

Posts tagged “youth

Is There a Thomas in the House?

     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.

Fr. Mark

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Evil Happens…We Do Nothing?

Abortion is an issue that I don’t relish focusing attention on or talking about, especially at Christmas time. The death of unborn children, as we consider Christ in Mary’s womb in anticipation of His birth, seems so incredibly wrong. And yet, with the opening of the new abortion clinic in Lima, it seems essential that something be said.

There are several points that are usually raised when someone mentions abortion as an option: it should be a woman’s right to choose; we’re supporting women; it’s only a blob of tissue, nothing has changed in the fight against abortion after so many years. Let’s take a few minutes to address these issues.

For any consideration of abortion, we need to understand what the action really is. Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removing the child growing within its mother. It isn’t a blob of tissue, but a human being. All of the genetic information is present for the child’s physical development. Equally present is a soul, that gift from God that makes us unique from simply being animals.

The child in the womb has been described as a blob, something less than human, so that an abortion might seem okay. Yet the truth is that the child looks very human after only a few weeks of growth, but has been fully human since conception when body and soul come together.

I think some of these false ideas have surfaced when people witnessed the destruction of a human being after the suction machine has torn it apart, much like we don’t recognize the animal in hamburger. In addition, it can only be without faith that we see the developing child as a blob since we are denying the soul’s presence.

With the recognition that this is truly a child, a human being, let’s look particularly at ‘a woman’s right to choose.’ What is she choosing? She is choosing to end the life of her child. Again it appears obvious that we do not see the child as a child for no one is in favor of killing another. We do not have the option to choose to kill other people. We couldn’t kill the child in a mother’s womb unless, in our minds, we make that child less than human.

The other piece that I grapple with is why anyone sees abortion as something helpful to women. The procedures are anything but affirming. For example, a woman who is less than 9 ½ weeks pregnant and has a medical abortion (which is the method at the Lima facility) will be given an oral medication (RU-486) in the office and will be sent home with medication that needs to be vaginally inserted 6-72 hours after that oral medication. Then alone in her home, she will begin cramping and bleeding until the child is discharged. She is left alone to flush her child away.

How is any of that positive for a woman? Did she really know what her choice was? Was she forced to endure this by someone else, economics, or shame? If we truly want to support women, we need to help them with the natural, yet challenging situation of their pregnancy. We need to be there offering support, education, supplies and advice, much like Heartbeat and other Pregnancy Centers.

Adding to the trauma of this crime against women and children is how it tears at families. I have heard the weeping grandmother sharing the story of her lost first-grandchild and the sorrow of a young father who was given no option at all about the life of his child. And then there is the regret of the post-abortive woman, whose sadness seems unquenchable.

Things have changed over the years in support of life. There have been laws put in place that would prosecute anyone who forces a woman to have an abortion. The Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from being spent on abortion. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prevents the abortion of a child shortly before its birth.

Why hasn’t more been done? Perhaps the answer is you. What have you done to fight against this evil? Has it been a focus of daily prayer? Did you join members of St. Michael’s Parish in being a prayerful witness outside of the Center for Choice abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life? Do you write letters to the editor about this issue? Have you called or e-mailed your Congressman?

As Edmund Burke once said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” It happened during Christ’s life and it is happening during ours.

Jan Kahle, Pro-Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Toledo


Oh, Eliza, Little Liza Jane

(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.            

     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.