As you know by now, we will welcome Fr. Nathan LaLiberte as our new Pastor beginning in July! Other staffing changes are occurring as we welcome and farewell staff members over the upcoming weeks:
We bid farewell staff member Carol Oldowski, RN, in her role as Parish Nurse. We thank her for her 17+ years of dedicated service to the parish! Though the Parish Nurse position is ending, many of the initiatives and parish groups that Carol served in this role will continue to be ministered to by other staff members in the future, such as the Lunch and Learn series and the ladies’ Mind/Body/Spirit group.
We also bid farewell to Liz Lockhart in her role as Director of Parish Operations. Liz will transition to a new position in the role of Faith Formation Director at St. John the Baptist at the end of July.
The search for a new principal for the school is underway as we wish Mindy Reeder the best of luck in her new position as Principal of St. Michael School in Prior Lake. Thank you for your steady leadership over the last four years!
We welcome Joanne Rachel in the role of our new Accountant. Joanne will serve both the school and the parish business office through her accounting role.
We also welcome Mary Dobson as our newly-hired Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation. Mary will join us in September once she concludes a month-long retreat and finishes up her current job assignment.
Please help make our new staff members feel welcome!
Additionally, we welcome Christopher Dietzen to his new role as parish Trustee. Chris will succeed John Povolny in this role at the parish and joins fellow trustee Tom Burns. We thank John for his many years of tireless leadership! Though there are changes on the horizon for Nativity of Mary, we continue to trust God as He leads us forward through challenges and opportunities. Our mission continues to be to make Jesus Christ known and loved!
In our Catholic faith, we have Mysteries. Commonly, when people use the term “mystery” it is in reference to trying to solve a problem or determine a cause, similar to Perry Mason or the game Clue. However, in the context of our Catholic faith, we use the term with a capital “M” and it refers to something beyond our capacity to fully understand. A definition of “Mystery” is, “A divinely revealed truth whose very possibility cannot be rationally conceived before it is revealed and, after revelation, whose inner essence cannot be fully understood by the finite mind.”
Because God is beyond our understanding, it is impossible for us to fully comprehend God in his totality. For example, an ant, due to its design and its capacity, is not able to understand the complexity of the totality of being human. The ant merely observes the human, but is not able to understand the human. Similarly, there are truths that are of God that we will not figure out on our own, but rather, God chooses to reveal them to us and we behold them.
The central Mystery that God revealed to humanity is that of the Holy Trinity. Sometimes, we take it for granted that we make the sign of the cross every time we pray, but we ought to realize that this is the greatest Mystery given to humanity. The Mystery of the Holy Trinity teaches that there is one God, who is three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is fully God and at the same time, each is distinct from the other. This does not make scientific sense, which is why it required God to reveal this truth to us, otherwise we would not have known it.
What is beautiful about this Mystery, is that it is also something that brings us to awe as we come before it. The Holy Trinity is not merely a fact written in a text book, but is the active love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that inspires us and draws us in. Similar to how a beautiful painting is not merely colors placed on canvas, but it tells a story, it draws the observer in, it reveals deeper insights, it elicits emotions and ideas. That is what happens to us, only on a divine scale as we contemplate and enter into the Holy Trinity in prayer. What makes this Mystery so important, is that we were made in the “image and likeness” of this Holy Trinity. As a result, we are made both to be brought into the loving relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and at the same time, we are made for relationships with God and with each other.
Today, let us celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday with great reverence, allowing ourselves to be in awe of the great splendor and infinite beauty of who are God is. Let us behold the Mystery and allow ourselves to be love by the triune God.
In the Catholic faith, the holiest day of our year. It is the event that gives the definition to our entire faith. If someone were to ask, what is the second most important day, I would suspect that a majority of people would say that it is Christmas. While Christmas is extremely holy, the second most important is, in fact, Pentecost.
St. John Chrysostom wrote of the feast of Pentecost, “Today we have arrived at the peak of all blessings, we have reached the capital of feasts, we have obtained the very fruit of the Lord's promise.” The word comes from the Greek word for “fiftieth” and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.
It is celebrated as the birthday of the Church. Pentecost is the feast when the Holy Spirit entered into the life of the Church. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Holy Trinity, and it is because this Spirit of God is now in the Church, that the Church is alive. It is because of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles and all disciples to the present day are able to declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. It is the Holy Spirit that moves Catholics to love God and love their neighbor. It is the Holy Spirit that gives the Saints their grace and mercy to sinners.
Next weekend is the birthday of the Church. Let us thank the Lord for the great gift of the third person of the Holy Trinity and the life of the Church that leads us to heaven.
This weekend, our Archdiocese had the honor of ordaining four new priests to serve the people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It is a mass that has many great symbols that help define the sacramental priesthood that Jesus Christ gave to his Church. I would like to explain a few of these symbols:
The first, is that each candidate is called by name. As you have probably noticed, the idea of “name” is connected intimately with many of our sacraments. At Baptism, the first question is “What name have you given your child.” At confirmation, your confirmation name is used before you are anointed. And at ordination, the man is called by name. This is symbolic of the reality that God calls each candidate for the priesthood by name. It is not a general invitation to this particular sacrament, but is an intentional seeking out of this man for this particular duty within the Church.
The bishop also lays his hands on the head of each candidate for ordination. This is the moment where the bishop calls down the Holy Spirit to transform the soul of the man for ordination. Holy Orders is only one of three sacraments that permanently changes the soul (the other two are baptism and confirmation). They laying on of hands is found through the Bible, all the way back through the Old Testament.
Next the priest is vested with the chasuble for the first time. This is the primary garment that the priest wears at mass. Often, the new priest will have a friend or a mentor vest him for his ordination. I asked Fr. Mark Juettner to vest me because he was my mentor priest for my four years of major seminary.
The bishop will then pour the holy oil of the Sacred Chrism on the hands of the newly ordained priest. The hands are consecrated because it is through them that sacraments will be ministered, such as the Eucharist or Anointing of the Sick. This is the same Sacred Chrism that is used at baptism and confirmation.
Finally, each newly ordained priest receives the gifts of the people: The bread and the wine that is to be used for consecration at the mass. At the heart of the priesthood is the celebration of the mass, and thus it is fitting that each newly ordained priest will receive these gifts that will be become a central part of his life as a priest.
The ordination rituals are very powerful symbols and a sacrament for the life of the Church. I would request that you pray for these four newly ordained priests. It is possible that one of these newly ordained priests will be the one to give any of us our Last Rites before we meet God face to face. Let us ask God to give them the graces to be holy ministers of the sacraments who guide us ever more closely to the heart of Jesus where we find mercy and love itself.
Please pray for Fr. Andrew Zipp, Fr. Joseph Connelly, Fr. Louis Floeder and Fr. Joseph Gifford.
It is a common practice for Catholics to have objects blessed. Almost every week here at the parish, someone asks either Deacon John or myself to bless a particular object: A rosary, scapular, statue, an image, ect. Once a religious object is blessed and dedicated for divine worship or veneration, it must be treated with reverence and must not be used in either an improper or profane way (cf. Code of Canon Law, #1171).
So what should we do with these when they break or we simply are at a point where we need to get rid of them. The primary way that Catholics dispose of any blessed object, including old palms from Palm Sunday or even Bibles, is to reverently burn or bury them.
his practice starts, in fact, with the objects that are often used a mass. When a vestment becomes tattered to a point beyond repair or a chalice is no longer in a condition to be used, they are typically burned or buried. If holy water needs to be changed out, we do not pour it down the drain with sewage water, but rather, we pour it into the ground. Even when we receive new holy oils after the chrism mass, we pour the excess old oils into the ground. The idea comes from the same natural process we have where when a person passes away, we return their remains to the earth, for we are dust and unto dust we shall return. It is the same attitude that all gifts come from God and all are returned to God.
Taking this approach with our blessed objects is in opposition to our disposable culture that simply throws everything into the garbage. There is no reverence or recognition of the goodness of the thing that we have. But by disposing of our blessed objects in this way, we acknowledge the goodness of God and his gifts to us.
So if you are a person who gardens or you (or a neighbor) is doing any landscaping, that is a good time to take stock of the religious items you have any that are beyond repair, it is very appropriate for you to place them in the ground. Or, if you are having a bonfire this summer, you may bring along your blessed objects to burn reverently in the fire (NB: It would be inappropriate to place holy objects in the fire and the immediately begin cooking s'mores over the fire. Rather, it would be recommended to cook first and then use the same fire for disposing of blessed objects). If this is done as a family, it can be a beautiful opportunity to teach your children about sacred objects and how to have an appreciation for all that God gives us.
Last weekend and this weekend, our parish celebrated the First Communion for 45 of our young people. This is a great joy for any person, but it is also a great celebration for the parish. We celebrate this as a parish because through their participation in receiving Holy Communion, these young people are entering into union with (communion) Jesus Christ in the most intimate way given to us by God. We rejoice with them and we are reminded of how we ought to celebrate each time we united ourselves with Jesus Christ through the reception of Holy Communion. Please pray for these young people and for our entire parish, that we might grow in our appreciation of the Holy Eucharist and join our hearts in union with Jesus’ most sacred heart.
Lauren Claire Aune
Sophia Mary Frances Bartz
Michael Vincent Blake
Melissa Flores Campusano
Ivy Jo Cheney
William Benjamin Christen
Colby Lee Dove
Madilyn Americus Elke
John Carlos Escobar
Owen Neil Finwall
Gore Tombe Gabriel
Lander Benjamin Guzman
Adam Steven Hansen Jr.
Anton Joaquin Atienza Hanson
Isaac Tibi Joseph
Vivien Ann McFadden
Abigail Riley McGinn
Sophia Elizabeth Meinhardt
Madelyn Grace Moore
Branko John Quentin Nemanich
Jack D. Olive
Joseph James Pauly
Griffin James Pokladnik
Emma Grace Sievert
Adriana Michelle Reyes
Matthew S. Romanowski
Parker Steffen Shook
Stella Ivanna Soegianto
Sophia Katherine Theis
Natalie Elizabeth Thornburg
Chiagoziem Isaac Ude
Rainy Kate Bengston Valentine
Alysa Charlotte Willems
Elizabeth Anne Wilson
Many people, including Catholics, think that Easter is simply one day on the calendar. And while this may be how we often celebrate Easter, we ought to remember that Easter is both an octave as well as an entire season.
First, it is an octave. Because this celebration is of such high importance (it is the very heart of our faith), the Catholic Church sees that it deserves not just a 24-hour moment, but eight full days where we celebrate. That is why if you attended mass on any of the days from Easter Sunday to Divine Sunday, the priest even used the term “on this day” in reference to the Easter resurrection. It is even such a day of celebration that when meat was typically prohibited for eating on all Fridays during the year, people would be able to eat meat on Easter Friday.
However, we do not only celebrate the octave, but Easter is of such great importance that it becomes an entire season. It lasts 50 days (whereas Lent is only 40), and it ends on Pentecost, which is June 9th this year. Many times for Christmas, people speak of it being an entire season, and we ought to do the same for Easter. So here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate the entire Easter season:
Decorate your house: I know that growing up, my mom enjoyed decorating the house for the different seasons of the year and different holidays. In the fall, we had a scarecrow and corn stalks on the lamp post in front of the house. For St. Patrick’s Day, there were green decorations. We ought to do this same for our liturgical church seasons. Decorating our house with signs of the resurrection, with “Alleluia!” and religious symbols is a great way to remind ourselves that we are still in the Easter season.
Plant an Easter garden: The Easter season coincides with spring every year and many people enjoy planting. A garden is a natural representation of new life. So selecting plants that can be a reminder of the Easter resurrection.
Pray the Alleluia: During the 50 days of Easter, it is a great practice to end your usual prayers with “Alleluia”. When you gather as a family and pray the “Bless us O, Lord…” feel free to add “Alleluia” at the end. Or even sing the Alleluia to celebrate the Easter season.
Make your own Easter candle: In the Church, we have the large Easter candle prominently displayed in the sanctuary as a reminder of the light of the Resurrection shining in the darkness. People can make a personal easter candle or even simply designate a special candle that is only lit during Easter. It can be on the dinner table, it can be lit for night time prayers or morning prayers. It becomes a personal reminder of the light of the resurrection.
Catholics have an entire season of Easter where we celebrate the most important moment in human history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate this not for a day or a week, but for an entire season so that we are transformed into a people who live in the resurrection of Jesus on a daily basis.
When I was ordained a priest in 2007, I thought I knew what my future would be. I had it all planned out and designed in my head. However, what I discovered when cooperating with God is that rarely are His plans the same as my plans. Earlier this month, it was mutually decided with the Archbishop that I would receive a new assignment. I made this decision with much thought, prayer, and with acknowledgement and humility that my charisms and skills can be put to best use in the high school as a chaplain and teacher. I have learned a lot, and am so grateful for the patience, prayers and love you all have shown me. I am sorry for any feelings I have hurt or any missteps I have made along the way. Please know of my love for you, this parish and our Catholic faith. I know this is difficult for the parish to go through another transition of pastors, as this parish has been through several in a relatively short amount of time, but I believe this is the best decision for this parish and me.
Beginning July 1st of this summer I will be assigned to Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, MN. The school has been seeking a full-time chaplain for several years and the Archbishop has asked me to fill that role. I will be serving as chaplain and teacher at the high school.
I am encouraged with the priest who is coming as the next pastor. His name is Fr. Nathan Laliberte. He is a young priest with experience as a pastor of a parish with a school. He comes from St. Maximilian in Delano, Minnesota. He is part of a group called the Companions of Christ, who are a fraternity of diocesan priests who make a commitment to prayer and common life together. To this end, Fr. Nathan will be living at St. John the Baptist in Savage, MN, just as I have been, where it happens that the associate is also a member of the Companions of Christ.
At this time of transition, I think it is very fitting that we are in the season of Easter. In the first few days of the Resurrection, the disciples were confused, questioning, and disoriented by what was happening about the unexpected changes that had occurred in their lives. They thought they knew what Jesus would do, but it didn’t happen as they planned. However, as we now know, God’s plan for the Easter Resurrection was so far better than all the designs they had created for themselves and it became a moment of great peace, and so too it will be for us at Nativity of Mary.
I will continue to hold the entirety of Nativity of Mary parish in my prayers as this has become a powerful part of my priesthood. May God bless you all with the peace that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
P.S. Please keep my standing reservation at White Castle.
Today, we celebrate the most important day for Catholicism, and, in fact, for all of humanity...the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is on Easter where all of the preaching of Jesus, all of his teaching, all of his miracles actually find their meaning. Because without the resurrection, our faith is merely an idea with a positive message. Without the resurrection, nothing has changed for humanity.
St. Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ.” (1 Cor 15:14-15). Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, his preaching is merely an early version of a TED talk that inspires a nice idea that is repeated, but nothing has substantially changed in the life of each human being. If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then I cannot have a relationship with him...but that is the beauty of this day, because in fact, Jesus Christ is risen!
When Jesus rose from the dead, he was not merely resuscitated, but is alive in a whole new way. He is alive in the fullness of living. The great theologian Romano Guardini wrote, “Christ rose again; therefore resurrection is possible, and his Resurrection is the foundation of the true world.” (Guardini, The Lord). It is a living that is not encumbered by death, nor affected by sin. It is a living in the fullness of the love that is alive in every sense of the word: physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. This is the great victory!
And as if that is not enough, by his resurrection, Jesus Christ not only accomplished his own victory over death, but also offers to all people the same hope in the fullness of life. It is now, on this day, where we celebrate and open our hearts to receive his love into our lives all the more. Through the gift of the sacrament of baptism, we were all “buried” with Christ and rise with him. So that by his resurrection, we now have the real hope of that same resurrection to the fullness of life in the true world. We are invited to experience and live in the life-giving love of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are beloved children of God as well.
So this day, let us rejoice with all the Saints in heaven that Jesus Christ is fully alive and let us rejoice because he is the way, the truth and the life for us today and every day.
This weekend we celebrate Passion Sunday, or Palm Sunday. I have many memories of this day from my childhood. I certainly remember learning to braid the palms with my mom. I remember the unique procession into the church. And I remember the reading of the Passion of our Lord...but not because it was so long, but because it was so different. While it was like the other Gospel readings on a typical Sunday, this one was different because it was read with even more emotion than one would often encounter.
The Passion of our Lord is read in its entirety because this is the central act of love by God for us. It is in the Passion where we see God put into action his great words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friends.”No one has greater love than
this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). When Jesus said these words, he knew that he was going to practice what he was preaching. Though, it would not be laying down his life for only his friends in front of him, but for all humanity, from the beginning of time to his return in glory. And in the Passion, we become witnesses again to the reality
of his love.
In preparation for the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil), I encourage you to read this Gospel again during the week. We read the account from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 22:14—23:56). As you read it, see the love of that Jesus has for you as he is preparing to give his life. See in his face the decision that he is making with you in
mind, out of love. See that he is not doing this for gain or for glory, but only out of a loving action. Pay attention to the feelings that arise in your heart as you “see” just how loved you are by God, that he would do this if you were the only person in the world. This is the full expression of Jesus’ love for you.
As we prepare for the Easter Triduum, certainly learn from mom how to braid your palm, be sure to sing “Hosanna!”, and especially pay attention to just how much God loves you as we read the Passion of Jesus.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl