May God grant peace to all who work for justice! Your friend in Christ,
Praised be Jesus Christ! It’s been a long time since I read the book Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, but my quote book has plenty of evidence that it contains some great insights. The book is about the Civil War and the terrible lessons we seemingly have to learn over and over again when our rage turns to violence. As we remember the many men and women who have fought for freedom and truth, we best honor them by trying to live in peace. But peace is only possible when justice abounds, and we know this is not always the case. Injustice comes in many forms, and the hurt it leaves is not easily forgiven or forgotten. That’s because such things affect us deeply, even at the level of our souls. Contrast that with pain – it’s amazing how a person can go through Armageddon physically speaking, and then sometime later appear to be completely recovered and no longer hampered in any way. Frazier makes this point in Cold Mountain: “That’s just pain,” she said. “It goes eventually. And when it’s gone, there’s no lasting memory. Not the worst of it, anyway. It fades. Our minds aren’t made to hold on to the particulars of pain the way we do bliss. It’s a gift God gives us, a sign of His care for us,” (pg. 219). Thank God for the healing effects of time and medicine! One suspects that most of us would agree with Frazier’s conclusion: that while we remember pain, we can never quite reproduce the intensity that was the case when we were first hurt. And while it’s much more challenging, something similar is true of our spiritual life too. For example, many of us have heard a song or smelled a scent that instantaneously took us back to some event from our past. What’s amazing is how powerful our emotions can be as the memory comes back to us full force. I’ve mentioned how the somewhat musty and unique smell of the cry room at Saint John’s on a summer afternoon always reminds me of my very first days here. I was terribly homesick and felt really blue about leaving behind so many people and places that had made my life beautiful. But as time went on the intensity of that spiritual pain softened, thanks to God’s goodness and the kindness you showed me as you supported me with your love and prayers. Now the time comes to again experience the spiritual suffering that comes with separation from people we love. Such is the nature of our time in this world: we experience great joys that we wish we could sustain forever. On the flipside, the overwhelming nature of loss sometimes seems to never go away or get better. Why do the joys seem so fleeting while the sorrows stay with us so long? We’re fallen creatures, and probably the best explanation is that even our power of memory has been damaged: it’s a struggle for us to retain the good and forget the bad. That notwithstanding, some of God’s holy ones discovered a beautiful truth that leads to peace, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. To wit, it was Father Augustine Tolton’s mom (Father Tolton’s cause for sainthood is presently advancing) who reminded Augustine just before leaving for seminary in Rome: “Never forget the goodness of the Lord.” This from a woman who was born into slavery and had known radical suffering practically her whole life! But she discovered the truth about gratitude: it unlocks our heart for joy. I’m reminded of the timeless words of Dostoevsky in his book, The Brothers Karamazov: “My dear children, there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory... if a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days.” This weekend we remember – the men and women who offered their lives in service of the truth and freedom. We also remember the goodness of the Lord through it all. These memories are God’s gift to us, His way of healing us and showing us the way home.
May God grant peace to all who work for justice! Your friend in Christ,
Praised be Jesus Christ! With graduation just around the corner, I’m reminded of the many seniors I taught who couldn’t wait for their newfound freedom. Of course, some were under the impression that the ability to do whatever you want whenever you want means you’re free. Oscar Wilde, who knew a thing or two about doing whatever he wanted, later reflected: “It’s not so much what you do, it’s what you become – that’s the problem.” In other words, our actions forge our character – good actions beget a good person, selfish actions... well, you can see where this is going. Because it’s a moral issue, I’d like to weigh in on the tidal wave of support for marijuana and share some thoughts I gleaned from an article written by Dr. Mark Latkovic, a moral theologian teaching at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. Without further ado, here are his thoughts (and for the record, I agree with him): [nowadays] priests have questions about how to minister to those who confess to using marijuana. How should this question be handled in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? In the past, one could always fall back on its illegality as a reason to give penitents and others not to buy or smoke it. There are several reasons that make marijuana use morally problematic. First, unlike with alcohol, the very reason for smoking weed is to “get high,” to get a “buzz.” But since that result means that one has lost or at least has impaired the use of his reason – intending to do so – it is morally wrong. While I would argue that pot smoking is grave matter, how sinful it is would depend on the awareness of its immorality, the level of freedom involved, the circumstances, the possibility of scandal, and so on. The second morally problematic element follows from the first: there is always a danger that the person intoxicated from using marijuana will then do something that can harm himself or others, e.g., drive while he is high, thus endangering human life. Recent studies indicate that more than 50% of medical marijuana patients in Michigan have driven while under the influence of the drug. A third reason is closely related to the first two concerns: the use of marijuana can potentially harm our own health – a fundamental good of the person – and thus also lead to higher health care costs for society. Shouldn’t we be encouraging healthy habits rather than harmful ones, especially given what we now know about the bad effects of this drug on a person’s health? (Note that the THC levels in marijuana are higher today than they have been in recent decades; THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). As well, I would say this: In our society today, we have a lot of people who have chosen to simply “check out” by “self- medicating” themselves into oblivion. I think primarily of our country’s opioid crisis that has shown no signs of abating. Why not encourage and, dare I say it, even exhort people to engage in morally and medically sound ways of coping with life’s daily struggles? Priests can be particularly important in recommending activities that provide one’s life with greater meaning: e.g., prayer and Church attendance, charitable works, engagement with family and friends, exercise and sports, and so on. Many of these activities also legitimately provide what recreational pot smokers are seeking illegitimately: pleasure. Finally, priests should be able to offer moral counsel and advice about this drug, as well as information about where people can get help to overcome substance use disorders. [Finally], there is the danger of marijuana as a “gateway” drug to other even more seriously harmful (and illegal) drugs such as heroin and cocaine. In a country where we have made so much progress in discouraging cigarette smoking, we seem to have forgotten the health hazards of another kind of addictive product that is smoked: cannabis. When appropriate, priests should point out such facts to those they minister to. More powerful than any “fact,” however, is the Gospel message that those same priests preach. In the Good News, Christians find the hope and healing power to help them meet life’s challenges – including the challenge of illicit drug use.
May God guide our graduates to discover the true freedom of living in the truth of His love!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! Happy Mother’s Day to all who have given us life! One of the most poignant stories I’ve ever heard about motherhood appeared in the book, The Shadow of His Wings by Father Gereon Goldmann. Set during World War II, Goldmann was a soldier studying to become a priest (you may remember the story, as we gave this book out at Christmas a couple of years ago). At one point a young soldier got shot and Goldmann rushed to his side. The following is what happened next: “Must I die?” the young man asked, with a faltering and trembling voice. “Yes, there is no hope,” [I said]. I was about to ask him if he was a Catholic, for I had Holy Communion with me. But then a smile brightened his face, a truly radiant, good, and joyful smile, and he said with a weak voice, “Please write to my mother and tell her I am waiting for her at the gate of heaven. She must not cry. I am waiting for her.” With the happy credulous smile of a child, he passed into eternity. Rarely have I been so affected by a death, and I have seen so very many,” (pg. 119). As we remember our Moms this weekend, we too hope to meet our mothers at the gate of Heaven when our time in this world comes to an end. And speaking of end, as you now know these next weeks will be our last together as I prepare to follow the Lord to Holy Name parish in Wausau. And while some are wanting an explanation as to why priests have to move (more on that later), first a few practical details that will guide us during the transition. My last weekend at Saint John’s will be June 15th and 16th. I’ll then be gone for 11 days as we embark on our mission trip to Tanzania. When I return I’ll spend my last weekend at Christ the King on June 29th and 30th. As for farewell gatherings, as you know I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary as a priest on June 9th. That will double as my farewell. Christ the King will host a farewell on Saturday, June 29th after the 4:00 p.m. Mass. Please take advantage of these events to come and say good bye. I will be inordinately busy in these next few weeks, so visiting families on an individual basis will not be possible. My last Mass will be on Monday, July 1st at Saint John’s. I will be packed and all moved out so that your new pastor, Father Jim Weighner, can move in and get settled. Father Weighner has been serving as the pastor of Holy Family Parish in Prairie du Chien for the past 10 years. He was ordained in 2007 and is one of our best priests. He was born and raised on a dairy farm in Iowa and is no stranger to hard work. The first question we ask when we’re reassigned is, “Who will be my successor?” When I heard that Father Weighner would be taking my place I immediately felt at peace and knew all would be well. I know that you’ll open your hearts to Father Weighner and faithfully support him with your prayers. Now, as for why priests must move when they’re happy and all is going well... spiritually we grow best when we’re stretched and led outside our comfort zone. I’ve been so incredibly happy here that I knew that one day I must move on if I ever hoped to become a better priest. These have been the happiest and best years of my life – and I mean that in absolute sincerity. But I feel the Lord asking me to trust Him again, as I did years ago when I first came to Marshfield and Spencer. We move as priests as a preparation for the big move we all must make when our life comes to its end. Priests should lead by their example, and so I accept God’s invitation to put my hand to the plow and not look back. You will be in my heart for the rest of my days – I will always thank God that you were the ones who taught me how to be a pastor. As my years of active service wane and I someday retire, I’ll still be thinking of you and praying for you (and please, ALWAYS pray for me!), and maybe I’ll even remember the scene mentioned at the beginning of this article. Someday I hope that we can all meet again at the gate of Heaven!
May God bless our Moms, who taught us that love makes sacrifices and space for others!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! I recently came across a quote I used years ago for a commencement address that I gave. The quote is from Albert Einstein, who was apparently more than just a remarkable mathematician: “Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we know. That we are here for the sake of others... For the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected. Many times a day, I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” As we conclude the First Communion celebrations this weekend (last Sunday was Christ the King’s, this Sunday is Saint John’s), we’re reminded of how great a treasure we have received in the Body and Blood of Jesus. And as Jesus Himself taught, “What you have received as gift, give as gift,” (Matthew 10:8). How often do you share your faith with others? Do people at your workplace know that you are Catholic? Are you ever ashamed of your faith? Probably most of us are guilty of being somewhat sheepish about living our faith in an unabashed way. We are working hard to provide the formation and tools to overcome this so that we can become better witnesses of the hope we share in Christ. For example, we are working with Evangelical Catholic to form small groups that will enhance our community spirit and inspire us to share how God has been working in our lives. Currently we have a number of parishioners from both Saint John’s and Christ the King receiving formation that will lead them to becoming small group leaders. One of the elements of our faith that we have not always fostered is the need to share it with others. A small group setting is the same method Jesus used in forming His Apostles in His three years of public ministry. If you’re interested in becoming a small group leader at some point, you’re welcome to contact me or Dave Alcott, who is spearheading this wonderful enterprise. While seemingly under the radar right now, it’s my belief that these small groups will do more to change our parishes than just about any of the other initiatives that we’ve tried. Another new facet of parish life is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Based on the extraordinary work of Dr. Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi, this is essentially Catholic Montessori that teaches the faith in probably the most effective way I’ve ever seen. We’re hosting the first level (3-6 year olds) once a week, and it’s going to grow because it’s been very enthusiastically received. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd teachers receive a lot of formation because they’re expected to not only know the faith, but also understand how children learn and the indispensable role of silence in learning. We would love to have a few more Catechists for this work and we’re happy to pay the cost of training. There will be a one-week training session in Wisconsin Rapids this summer and if you enjoy working with children and would like to participate, please contact the parish office at Saint John’s. My first exposure to Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was a friend’s son, who at the age of about 7 told me with 100% accuracy how a priest gets vested before Mass. We’re blessed by these opportunities and now it’s your job to pray and determine if the Holy Spirit is moving you to respond. As Einstein so rightly observed, giving as much as we have received is at the heart of a happy human existence.
May God bless all who receive His Son in Holy Communion, especially our little ones who receive Him for the first time!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! The following is a story that seems appropriate as we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday: “There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father decided to hand him a bag of nails and said that every time the boy lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence. On the first day, the boy hammered 37 nails into that fence. The boy gradually began to control his temper over the next few weeks, and the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased. He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to hammer so many nails into the fence. Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father the news and the father suggested that the boy should now pull out a nail every day he kept his temper under control. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. ‘You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. . the wound is still there.’” As we hear the story of Jesus’ empty tomb, we remember that though He defied death, He mysteriously retained His wounds. Saint Thomas was famously convinced of the resurrection only when he put his finger into Jesus’ nail marks and his hand into Jesus’ side. Why would Jesus, who now had a body no longer subject to such things as gravity or hunger, nevertheless retain the marks of His crucifixion? Was it to remind us of our guilt? We might wonder this, especially as we’re still somewhat inclined to imagine God as the great enforcer who is seemingly always out to catch us doing something bad. Just like Adam and Eve, sin makes us suspicious and afraid of our Creator and we too often seek freedom in dark places as we distance ourselves from God. Pope Francis’ response a number of years ago succinctly captures Jesus’ motivation for appearing as He did after rising from the dead: “Jesus kept His wounds so that we would experience His mercy. This is our strength and our hope.” Jesus keeps His wounds so that we can find refuge and strength in Him when we’re struggling with the many sorrows of this life. Unlike any other religion in the world, Christianity proclaims and worships a God who not only became one of us; He actually suffered in the ways that we do and so His capacity for empathy is unparalleled. When we experience rejection, betrayal, or malice, Jesus knows these well from His last days in Jerusalem. If it’s ingratitude or misunderstanding, many are the occasions when Jesus bore these patiently. I’m reminded of a story about a young associate who was very popular in his parish assignment (I’m not kidding now). However, when a prominent parishioner died suddenly, the family asked for the old pastor... the young priest felt hurt until someone explained that it wasn’t anything personal. It was just that the old pastor had obviously suffered more in his life than the young priest and it was his compassion and the wisdom that he had gained at the foot of the cross that they needed. Say what you will about Christianity, but one thing no one can claim is that Jesus doesn’t understand how hard life can be down here. He knows. In closing, the Irish tell the legend of a man who died and met Saint Peter at the pearly gates. Before granting him admittance, Saint Peter asked to see the man’s scars. The man looked confused at first, and then admitted to not having any scars. To which Saint Peter exclaimed, “You mean to tell me that there wasn’t anything worth fighting for down there!” Suffering, the mark of one who loves – that’s why Jesus retains His wounds today and forever.
May God lead us into His Son’s heart, which was pierced by a sword so that we might be washed clean by His mercy!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Happy Easter! Many of you are familiar with the game show “Jeopardy!” and probably already know that the longtime host Alex Trebek is sick with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. When he spoke to the public about his illness he assured folks that “I’m going to fight this. And I’m going to keep working, and with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers, I plan to beat the low survival rate for this disease.” And just to show that his sense of humor is still in- tact, Trebek added, “Truth told, I have to (keep working). Be- cause under the terms of my contract, I have to host “Jeopardy!” for three more years.” I’ve been praying for him ever since I heard and wonder if he’ll still be with us by the time you sit down to read this (I’m writing in late March, before the big Lenten rush swallows me up and chews up all of my free time). So, I’d like to dedicate this column to Alex Trebek and all of the many fans of “Jeopardy!” who will be saddened by his departure from the world as we know it. Though I’ve rarely had the time to watch the show, I always found “Jeopardy!” to be one of the few programs on TV that actually promotes education. A friend used to watch it religiously and while he found the depth of learning in the contestants to be outstanding, he always remarked that they were simultaneously very ignorant about nearly everything having to do with reli- gion. Well, let’s see you how you fare with a few easy ones: Knock knock, who’s there? It’s members of this denomination whose name references Isaiah 43:10. Answer: Who are the Jehovah’s Witnesses? It’s the act of dying for one’s faith. An- swer: What is martyrdom? Christmas is December 25th; this holiday around the same time starts on Kislev 25 on the Jewish calendar. Answer: What is Hanukkah? Pope Benedict XVI’s first of these was titled “Deus caritas est” – God is love. An- swer: What is an encyclical? Okay, now that you’re warmed up and feeling good, we’ll move into more current events with a splash of religion. If you are able to solve all of them without recourse to your phone or any weird new age divination, the grand prize is a 2016 Ford Focus. It only has 36,000 miles, is completely paid for and insured, and has been in the shop twice in the first year I owned it. It’s now two-toned blue and has been recalled for a faulty gas valve that results in nearly stalling every time I back out of the garage and start up the little incline on Chestnut. I’d like to trade it but I’m assured I’d only get a new pair of pajama pants and a rancid box of Swish- er Sweets in exchange. So you can have it if you get a perfect score . . . . good luck! 1) Formerly known as the Baron of Blenker, he’s tall, mean and not nearly as funny as he thinks. Answer: Who is Father Burish? 2) Possibly the nicest of my former associates (which really isn’t saying much), he stopped eating Big Macs and instantly dropped 50 pounds. Answer: Who is Father Kuhn? 3) He drove a car named “The Great White Hope,” and was frequently forced to walk because it was a Chevy. Answer: Who is Father Sedlacek? 4) He was born in 1940 and thinks he’s pretty smart. Answer: Who is Father Barry? Oops, sorry about that . . . . the answer is actually Who is Alex Trebek? Well, how did you do? By the way, I love my Ford Focus and was only kidding when I said you could have it . . . . the people who sold it to me might be reading this and I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship! Now to end this East- er special, the bonus round: He wore a yarmulke, spoke fluent Aramaic, knew the Psalms by heart, was accused of blasphemy and crucified for claiming to be God’s Son. But He was Who He claimed to be and when Alex Trebek dies and you die and I die, we will meet Him and be judged by Him. Answer: Who is Je- sus Christ?
May God fill your heart with the hope and healing of Easter! Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! Last year Mr. David Eaton wrote a letter before Holy Week to the parents of all of the Catholic school students. Mr. Eaton is the President of Columbus Catholic Schools and has given me permission to share some of his thoughts. His reflection has to do with Holy Week, so the timing is perfect for us:
“The three days of the Easter Triduum make up the shortest season of the Church year. On Holy Thursday we celebrate again the Last Supper. In Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians we are witness to the first Eucharist and hear Christ’s words still spoken at each Mass, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In the Gospel we see Jesus washing the apostles’ feet and saying to them, “As I have done, so you must do.” In Christ’s directions to his apostles, to celebrate the Eucharist in his memory and to serve others, we see the beginning of the priesthood. This is not only a striking reminder of the priests’ service to the church, but of our call to serve each other. On Good Friday we read the Passion and hear of Christ’s betrayal, torture, and crucifixion. In the Veneration of the Cross the congregation is invited to come forward and give a sign of gratitude for our salvation through Christ’s death by genuflecting before, or kissing, the cross. On Good Friday we also have special intentions. Of these, I find the prayers for Christian unity, for the Jewish People, and for unbelievers to be the most moving. On Holy Saturday we have the Easter Vigil. This celebration is truly extraordinary. The first thing that happens is the lighting of a fire; from this fire, the Paschal Candle is lit. This candle represents for us Christ’s light to the world. The Easter Proclamation is then sung. This song encourages us to rejoice in the knowledge that Christ will rise from the dead. The Vigil continues as we hear a series of Scriptural readings: if you follow along closely, you will see that those readings are about the covenant between God and his chosen ones. Then something simple, but profound happens: the Alleluia, silent since Ash Wednesday, celebrates the Risen Christ! If the parish is lucky enough to have baptisms you will see another of the important events of the Vigil. The Easter Vigil has always been a time for new members to join the church. A word of encouragement and a word of caution about the Easter Vigil: the Vigil is absolutely the high point of the liturgical year and can be profoundly moving; it is, however, long. To fully understand and appreciate our faith we must understand and appreciate the events of the Triduum and how the Church commemorates them. Hopefully this will give you some help in explaining to your children just what the days leading up to Easter are all about.”
Every year we have the opportunity to really enter into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. Sometimes our work schedule or other demands make this impossible. But it would be a great sadness if we died without ever having experienced the raw emotions that Our Lord’s sacrificial death causes in us. Before you go, consider making a good confession – there are many times available and you honor the gift of priesthood by receiving sacramental absolution. As this Palm Sunday makes manifest to the world, there can be no true crown without the cross because there can be no true love without suffering. Please remember to pray for all of us who are ordained on Tuesday, as we celebrate the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in La Crosse (you’re very welcome to attend – it begins at 10:30 a.m.). We renew our vows at that Mass and it’s a powerful reminder of how God is faithful to His Church, especially in the midst of human frailty and sin. I’ll be asking for the grace to serve Him and you more generously in the year to come – I rely on your prayers to keep this promise.
May this Holy Week deepen our ability to trust God so that no suffering will ever separate us from Him!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! Saint Philip Neri lived in Rome in the late 1500s (he died in 1595) and is still one of the all-time favorites of the Romans. The movie about his life, “I Prefer Heaven,” is one of the best depictions of holiness that you’ll ever see. Neri was a man of profound joy, which undoubtedly was the fruit of his complete trust in the Lord. Neri came to Rome hoping to become a Jesuit, but God had other plans. Neri soon found himself serving the street children, helping them to believe that even though they had so frequently been rejected by others, there was a God who loved them perfectly. Neri’s life is one of great insight, as he once asked a person who had confessed gossip to go and scatter chicken feathers on a windy day. When the person completed the task and came back to Neri, he told the penitent to now go and collect them. When the penitent said such a thing would be impossible because the feathers had spread so far and wide, Neri said such is the damage that gossip causes others... only God can heal it. Neri had a big heart, which is literally due to what theologians sometimes call a “transverberation.” This is the rare experience of a holy person whose heart is pierced by a mystical grace given by God. Saint Teresa of Avila experienced it, as did Saint Philip Neri. When he died they performed an autopsy and discovered that a couple of his ribs had been broken and then healed irregularly so as to make enough room for his literally enlarged heart. It’s no wonder that Neri would often go into ecstasy while celebrating Mass: the servers grew accustomed to him levitating after the consecration, and so would snuff out the candles and go outside to play soccer. After an hour or two they would return in time to re-light the candles and witness Neri come back down to finish the Mass and continue as if nothing had happened. Truly, Saint Philip Neri was a remarkable saint. However, lest you think that we have nothing in common with such a man, we must remember that the joy he lived is something that is accessible to every human being. But the difficulty is that such joy comes from God, and too many of us forget this and try to manufacture it ourselves. Mother Teresa discovered that if she put Jesus first, others second, that there was always enough left for her. Are we putting Jesus first? When do we say our first prayer of the day? The goal is to get up, kneel down by our bed and say a humble prayer of thanksgiving for the new day while begging God for the grace to live it well. If we do this, we’re off to the best start possible. Another sign of spiritual growth is that we begin to make sacrifices so that we can pray more often. I’m writing this during the NCAA March Madness season and shutting off the TV and walking over to the Adoration Chapel is more challenging than I’d like to admit. What are you willing to sacrifice so as to put Jesus more at the center of your life? Prayer is a battle: a battle to make it a priority, and sometimes a battle to focus while we’re actually praying. But a life like that of Saint Philip Neri shows that the fruits of faithfulness are worthy of the sacrifices we must make. Saint John’s is hosting 40 Hours this week (beginning on Thursday, ending on Saturday), which commemorates the time Jesus spent in the tomb so as to save us. The church will be opened for all of that time and Jesus would love to visit with you. Bring your hopes and your hurts; bring in your heart those who are close to God as well as those who seem to have given up on Him. You’ll find a strength, a hope, and a joy that are not of this world. Jesus promised these things... how can you say no to this Man?
Saint Philip Neri, pray for us, that we experience the joy God gives to those who serve with generous hearts!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! I hope Lent is treating you well. What Lent is all about is taking an honest look at what’s in our heart and soul and working to align our lives more with the will of the God who made us. That can sometimes be hard work that entails dying to bad habits and learning to humbly ask God for His forgiveness and His grace. Ash Wednesday commends to our attention the ancient practices of prayer, fasting and alms giving. Let’s begin with our favorite: fasting! A couple of weeks ago I began experiencing some rather significant pain in my back. Because I worried it might be a kidney stone or something worse, I went to Urgent Care. Everything checked out okay, and it turned out to just be back pain, probably triggered by shoveling copious amounts of snow. What didn’t check out okay was my weight – when I stepped on the scale I was aghast at what I saw. Maybe I should have seen this coming: Father Barry got me a pair of snowshoes for Christmas and written on each of them in bold letters is the word “TUBBS.” I guess I just didn’t want to believe he was talking about me. Well, it’s turned out to be a real blessing because I’ve had a little extra motivation for the fasting component of Lent. Now please don’t misunderstand: fasting is not a diet plan for vain people hoping to look good at the beach. Rather, it’s a spiritual discipline that liberates us from being dominated by our physical desires. As Saint Teresa of Avila pointed out, give the body what it wants and it just wants more. Jesus put it this way: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We do not live in a culture known for its fasting practices. When was the last time you were truly hungry? Jesus fasted to give us a method that leads to a deeper spiritual life and a greater freedom from the sometimes inordinate desires of our bodies. Moving on to prayer, have you visited the new Saint John Paul II Adoration Chapel? Adoration is an acquired taste, but just stopping for 10 minutes once or twice a week will help you to have a more genuine prayer life. Learning to adore Jesus for an hour at a time might take a while, but the spiritual fruits are abundant. For example, people who develop a deeper prayer life learn to recognize their own sinfulness more readily, which keeps them from being so quick to judge others. Moreover, people who pray regularly are more and more able to know God’s will for their life and this is a source of deep peace. Finally, a deeper prayer life reminds us that one of the most merciful things we can do for people is to pray for them. Jesus was praying as He died for us on the cross – when we pray, we are imitating the merciful love that Jesus brought into our fallen world. And finally, alms giving, which is a constant source of generosity and wisdom to those who engage it. Our parish food drives are impressively organized and garner a great amount of participation. Our mission outreach has been a source of pride as we’ve served Christ in many ways in our own community and abroad. The hope is that this spirit of giving will inspire our younger parishioners to do their part as impressively as our older members have done. As we celebrate this Laetare or 4th Sunday of Lent, we renew our efforts to grow closer to Jesus through prayer, fasting, and alms giving. And as for this scribe, it seems to be working: I’m down 8 pounds!
May God’s grace, preeminently received in the Eucharist, change our hearts to be more forgiving!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Praised be Jesus Christ! The following, titled “The Dollar and the Cent” is a bit outdated. Nevertheless, as you’ll see, the principle is still valid today: “A big Silver Dollar and a little brown cent, Rolling along together they went. Rolling along the smooth sidewalk, when the dollar remarked... for the dollar can talk: I’m bigger and more than twice as bright. I’m worth more than you a hundred fold, and written on me in letters bold, is the motto drawn from the pious creed, “In God we trust,” which all can read. Yes, I know said the cent, I’m a cheap little mite, and I know I’m not big, nor good, nor bright, And yet, said the cent, with a meek little sigh... You don’t do to church as often as I!” Money, a very volatile topic: it always has been and most certainly always will be. Some years ago a man speaking about stewardship made the interesting point that only in church is $5.00 considered a huge amount! He went on to pose the question (and one I think of often): “If I can give more, should I?” Well, that’s a question each person should take to prayer and see what God has to say about it. Of course, be very careful what you ask of God... worldly people don’t ask such questions because they don’t want to know the answer. Some of us reading this, in our weaker moments, can look back and say there were times when we wished we hadn’t asked God for His opinion on whatever matter we were considering. But in the end, there is always more joy in giving than receiving – Jesus knew this and when He came to His “hour,” He knew His sacrifice would ultimately inspire countless men and women to follow Him and daily die to themselves so that others might live. Money is just paper (or a small piece of metal dipped in copper), but what we do with it says something about how much we really trust God. As the old adage puts it, “It pays to tithe.” But of course, that is something one can only learn by giving it a test run. Now you’re maybe wondering what I am building up to with such an auspicious start... first, to say that Saint John’s is the most generous parish I’ve ever served (actually, it’s the only parish, along with Christ the King, that I’ve ever served... but the point is still true!). We always do our part to support Bishop Callahan and the myriad works he and his staff offer for the salvation of souls. We are a few thousand dollars short of our goal for the Diocesan Annual Appeal, but the goal that we have of more participation is the one that we are really emphasizing. Thanks for all who have supported the good works of the Catholic Church by participating in the Annual Appeal. And now that the Saint John Paul II Adoration Chapel and the Mother Frances Streitel Center are humming with activity, we can thank God that all of it is paid for and we’re just making little adjustments here and there. Some have asked if you’re allowed to walk into the classroom and look around after praying in the chapel: yes, by all means. We host Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in that room every Thursday afternoon and it’s been a huge hit. This is basically Montessori for the Catholic faith, so it’s a lot of hands on and quiet time so that the kids can begin to experience an interior life. The ages are 3-6 year olds and the next level is 6-9 year olds. We won’t have enough room to host the 2nd level, but Father Kitzhaber is building at Sacred Heart and he said if someone can come up with the money, he’d be willing to modify their project so that they could host it. If you’re interested in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the fruit that it is bearing, check out their classroom and pray to God that He will help it to grow.
May God inspire us by His Son’s sacrifice, that we may become more like the One we receive each Sunday!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin
Sunday: 8:00 & 10:00 AM
Saturday: 4:00 PM
Tuesday & Thursday: 8:30 AM
Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 8:30 AM
SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
Saturday: 3:15 - 3:45 PM
Monday - Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Thursday: 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM
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Welcome from Our Pastor
Welcome to Christ the King Catholic Church! Ever since 1938 this parish has been assisting souls in their quest for deeper union with God. Our mission statement is essentially found in the stained glass window above the main altar: “For Christ our King.” Insofar as God made us and we belong to Him, we have come to... Read More