A year ago, Pope Francis was preaching at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he said, “Jesus Christ manifested himself; we are invited to get to know him, to recognize him in our lives...is Jesus Christ at the center of my life?”
As Catholics, we often speak about the importance of having Jesus at the center of our lives, but why? Why should Jesus be at the center of my life? We need Jesus at the center, because it is Jesus Christ who reveals to us the best life, the path to happiness that we all desire. When my life is centered around Jesus, then I know that I have the anchor to keep me stable in times of distress, hurt, or suffering. I have the guide to help me make the moral decision. I have the Savior who heals my wounds and welcomes me into his heart.
Just as the sun is the center of the solar system and all planets orbit around it, so too it should be with the Son and our lives orbit around him.
This understanding is part of the motivation to moving the tabernacle to the center of our church Sanctuary. The
tabernacle is where we place the Eucharist after communion. The Eucharist that we receive at communion is not a symbol, but is real. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity. And so, at the conclusion of communion, we place the Eucharist in the tabernacle where He is present for our worship. By placing the tabernacle at the center, we put into our architecture the teachings of our faith: Christ should be at the center of our lives.
As Pope Francis said, when Christ is at the center of your life, “you will never be disappointed.”
So as you enter our church, I encourage you to see the tabernacle, genuflect and ask yourself that question that Pope Francis asked of each of us: “Is Jesus Christ at the center of my life?”
Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, when the message of Jesus Christ reached beyond the Jewish people, to even those who were “outsiders” to the message of the Messiah. The “Three Wisemen” represent those who were not part of the Abrahamic faith and they reveal that God has come to save them.
Today, in our community and in our state, there are people who are considered to be legally “outsiders” however, they are truly people of our spiritual family and have only experienced our country. I am speaking of the “Dreamers,” those people who are/were young immigrants, brought to the United States by their families when they were only children. Because they were young, it was not their conscious decision to enter the United States and this is the only community and country they have ever known. Because of their experience, the United States of America is home.
Mindful of the needs of these young people and inspired by the love of Jesus Christ, the bishops of Minnesota are encouraging all of us to support the Dream Act of 2017 which opens up a path to citizenship for the “Dreamers”. You can contact your representatives via email or a postcard. All of the information can be found on our parish website under the “Useful Links” tab and the “Archdiocesan Announcements” link along with a video from Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family, who were migrants themselves, let us ask our Lord to be with all
migrants, that they may find safe passage and a loving community.
In 1964, the Second Vatican Council published a document called “Lumen Gentium”. In this document, the Council fathers discussed the entirety of the Church. In this document, they discuss the family, which they called, “the domestic church.” This is an incredible title, and one that carries with it a great honor. They are saying that the family ought to be the place where people, especially children, learn how to live out our faith; to move our faith from the intellectual to the practical; from theory to action. Our faith is one that is meant to be lived out in the real, day-to-day world, not exclusively within the walls of the church building. It is within the family where we first learn how to apply our faith.
The document goes on to say this about the family: “In [the family] parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.”
I can remember learning my night time prayers from my parents who prayed with me before I knew even how to speak. It was my parents who taught me the importance of going to church by taking me to mass every weekend, if it was convenient or not. It was my parents, who gave me the first language to even talk to God. It was my parents, who brought me to confession to encounter the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. When I began to think more deeply about this reality, I realized, it wasn’t the priest at our local parish, but my parents who first taught me about the love of Jesus Christ.
On this feast of the Holy Family, I encourage all of the parents here, and everywhere, to see the awesome honor that you have to be the first teachers of the faith for your children. Your example gives your children the formation needed to live their faith. Stay close to the Holy Family as you pray as a family. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are not only the example for holiness in family life, but they still are there to intercede and help all families throughout the world.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...pray for us, and have a blessed New Year!
Many people will tell us to remember “the reason for the season,” and this is very true. However, because of the amount of activities that cascade over us during the season of Advent, we often miss the time to prepare for the arrival of Jesus Christ. Between our multiple Christmas parties, our searching Amazon for the last minute gift (hoping that our friends have a public wish list), and managing the children who have (seemingly) much more time off for Christmas break than we ever did, we miss out on Advent. We feel as though we missed the season, however, it is in the doldrums of winter, following December 25th, that we can actually experience Christmas!
Many people complain that the month of January is the longest for us in Minnesota, fearing that nothing happens but for the anxious awaiting of spring time. This creates the perfect opportunity to experience Christmas. For the season of Christmas actually begins on December 25th, it does not end. It is during this time after Christmas Day where we ought to concentrate our minds on paying attention to the great gift that is God entering the world. We ought to be a people who notice in a new and beautiful way the love of God for each person by him choosing to become a human, just like us. To have a family, just like us. To have highs and lows, just like us. To be like us in all things, but sin. He did this so that he can save us from our sins.
That small, little child is destined to be the savior of all people, even us today. Let us use the quiet and depth of winter to notice again, in a more intimate way, the love that this great season offers us. Let us truly experience Christmas.
Today is “Gaudete Sunday” or the third Sunday of Advent, or, as many people say, “The Sunday where Father wears pink.” This Sunday began as a midpoint of the season of Advent and was lived out as a bit of a break from the penitential practices of the season of Advent. Hence the use of the term “gaudete,” which means “rejoice”.
To signify the significance of this particular Sunday, the clergy are allowed to wear a rose colored vestment, rather than the customary violet. While not the full white, the rose indicates a bit of hope, a sign of the hope breaking through the darker moments.
For us spiritually, this is how we ought to live. There are many times in our lives where there is darkness. Sometimes the darkness happens from outside of us, found in factors that we cannot control. Other times, the darkness occurs because of our own making, our poor decisions, our sinfulness. Regardless of how this occurs, we are a people of hope.
For a believer in Jesus Christ, hope is not based upon chance. It is not the type of “hope” that I will have a lucky ticket for the lottery. Rather, Catholic hope is based upon the surety of Jesus Christ. Knowing that Jesus Christ is the savior and has entered into this world, the believer can know the darkness and sin does not have the last word. Yes, we do walk through the darkness, through the sufferings and pain, but we know that in the end, it is Jesus and his resurrection that is the final statement.
So let us be a people who pay attention to the reality of the hope that Jesus Christ offers. Let us see in the rose vestments the light breaking through. It is there where we must keep our focus so that we might rejoice with even greater excitement at the entrance of Jesus Christ into the world in the great season of Christmas.
During the season of Advent, the priest wears the color of purple. The other season where the color of purple is prescribed is during the season of Lent. In the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, the color purple is used as a color of penance. The Church has recognized that as the major celebrations approach, there is a need to prepare one’s self (and the Church as a whole) to properly engage in this major event, and so it is with Christmas.
Just as when we prepare to go on a long trip for vacation, we will do a penance (of sorts) in preparation to fully enjoy the trip. We will set aside money, we will do extra laundry, we make arrangements to ensure that our house is monitored while we are gone. All of this is extra work on top of the normal daily routine. However, this extra work, if done well, allows us to fully enjoy the vacation. It is work, but the work will allow us to enter into the joy of the vacation. Similarly with our season of Advent.
If we prepare properly for the season of Christmas, with four weeks of preparation, we will have all the greater joy of the graces of the season of Christmas when it arrives. The season of Advent should be a time of increased prayer, where we engage in both the personal prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture. We ought to be reading the Gospel accounts of how Mary and Joseph prepared for the arrival of Jesus. We ought to spend extra time in prayer individually and as a family, especially praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (the mysteries about the early life of Jesus). Yes, this does mean more work and more time invested, but it is an investment worth making, just as our preparations for vacation are worth making.
Let us engage in this season of Advent through our penitential preparations so that we might experience an even greater joy at the time of Christmas!
I have always enjoyed the season of winter, particularly winter in Minnesota. I know that this may be a surprise to some people, even my fellow Minnesotans, however, it is true. What I find so appealing about winter is not just playing hockey or the beautiful Christmas lights, but the world becomes more quiet. When there is snow on the ground and the night sets in so early, we humans quiet ourselves down. And it is when we are quiet, that we are able to notice the simple and peaceful gifts of life...and so it is with Advent.
Today, we begin our season of Advent, or as I like to call it, “the forgotten season.” The Advent season is a time of anticipation, a time of waiting, a time of preparation, and it is a season of quiet. For us, Advent ought to be a time where we actually slow down, set aside some of the clutter of our minds and truly prepare to notice Jesus Christ. Remember that Jesus Christ did not arrive with fireworks or with great notice to the world, he quietly and humbly entered into the human existence. This is true for Jesus in 2017. He does not barge into our lives, but rather, he is quiet and humble, waiting for an invitation to be welcomed into your life.
So for this Advent, I offer some ways to quiet our lives:
First, spend some time in family prayer. Choose to make time in the evening to pray as a family. Use the readings from the daily mass (found at usccb.org), read them as a family, and then have each family member go around and make a prayer to God. Then close with a Hail Mary prayer (which starts with a quote from the Archangel Gabriel to Mary).
Second, choose to turn off the TV in the evening and have some time simply listening to music as a family together. I enjoy television as much as the next person, but having some time without visible stimulation can truly help to quiet our hearts.
Finally, light an advent wreath at home. There is something quieting about the gift of a small flame in the house that reminds us of the coming of the light of Jesus Christ into the world.
You may have your own ways to enter into the quiet of Advent, to prepare your hearts and home for the arrival of Jesus. In whatever ways we can, let us embrace the spirit of Advent so that we may truly rejoice with Mary and Joseph at the arrival of Jesus at Christmas.
At the beginning of every mass and almost every prayer,
Catholics make the sign of the cross. We touch our foreheads, our heart, and our two shoulders (far one first). It has become something of habit for almost every Catholic before we can even talk. So why do we do that?
The first mention we have the “sign of the cross” dates back to 230 AD where those to be baptized were marked with the “sign of the cross.” The idea of marking our bodies with a sign from God actually goes back to our Jewish roots. Many Jews, when entering into prayer, would wear little rolls of paper with the words of scripture in little boxes. These would have straps that they would literally wear the words of Sacred Scripture on their person as a preparation to pray to God. This was following Deuteronomy 6:4-8 which says that one should “Bind [these words] at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.” These are called phylacteries.
For us, as Catholics, we do not physically bind the words of Scripture to our person, because the sign of the cross was marked on our souls at Baptism. Our souls have the mark of Christ “written” on them for all eternity, and it can never be erased. So, as an outward reminder to us of what has happened to our souls, we make the sign of the cross as we begin and end prayer. Thus, it is fitting that we should begin every mass, the height of prayer, with the sign of the cross.
If it does help, I often recommend that people think about where the sign of the cross is “placed” when we make it. First, when we touch our heads, we are asking the cross of Christ to be in our minds and thoughts. Second, when we touch our hearts, we are asking the cross of Christ to be in our souls. And then when we touch our shoulders, we are asking the cross of Christ to be in our actions.
Let us be a people who make the Sign of the Cross with seriousness, reverence, and let us allow the Sign of the Cross to help change our lives to be like Jesus Christ.
In our Catholic faith, the center of what we do is the Eucharist. Many times, when Catholics hear the term “Eucharist,” they think about the Body and Blood of Christ that is received at Mass. And while that is true, the consecrated species are properly referred to as “the Eucharist.” The primary and first meaning of the term “Eucharist” in our Catholic faith is a reference to the Mass...the entire Mass—from beginning to end.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all ‘thanksgiving.’” (1360).
It is very tempting for us to attend mass on Sundays and expect to “get something” out of Mass. While it is true that we do receive at Mass, we should enter into each celebration of the Eucharist with an attitude that the reason for coming is to give thanks to God, to give God my gratitude for his love, his mercy, his peace, and his
So as we prepare for the American celebration of Thanksgiving, it is only proper that we, as Catholics, recognize the importance of giving thanks to God every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation.
This article was written by the Catholic News Agency.
Venerable Solanus Casey, an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957, will be beatified at a November 18 Mass in Detroit, Michigan.
Who was Fr. Solanus Casey? Known for his great faith, attention to the sick, and ability as a spiritual counselor, he will be the second American-born male to be beatified. Born Bernard Casey on November 25, 1870, he was the sixth child of 16 born to Irish immigrants in Wisconsin. At age 17 he left home to work at various jobs, including as a lumberjack, a hospital orderly, and a prison guard. He was confirmed at St. Michael Catholic Church in Stillwater, MN where he later worked as a streetcar operator. Re-evaluating his life after witnessing [a public murder],
he decided to act on a call he felt to enter the priesthood. Because of his lack of formal education, however, he struggled in the minor seminary, and was eventually encouraged to become a priest through a religious order rather than through the diocese.
So in 1898, he joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Detroit and after struggling through his studies, in 1904 was ordained a “sacerdos simplex” – a priest who can say Mass, but not publicly preach or hear confessions. He was very close to the sick and was highly sought-after throughout his life, in part because of the many physical healings attributed to his blessings and intercession. He was also a co-founder of Detroit's Capuchin Soup Kitchen in 1929. For 21 years, he was porter at St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit.
He is also known for his fondness for playing the violin and singing, although he had a bad singing voice
because of a childhood illness which damaged his vocal chords.
Even in his 70s, Fr. Solanus Casey remained very active, and would even join the younger religious men in a game of tennis or volleyball. He died from erysipelas, a skin disease, on July 31, 1957, at the age of 87. A miracle attributed to Venerable Casey's intercession was recognized by Pope Francis at a May 4 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. “I’m grateful to hear from the Capuchin friars that the date of the beatification has been finalized,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit stated.
“The beatification of Father Solanus will be a tremendous blessing for the whole community of southeast Michigan, an opportunity for all of us to experience the love of Jesus Christ.” The November 18 beatification Mass will be said at Ford Field in Detroit, which can accommodate as many as 60,000.
His beatification will also be broadcast on EWTN at 3 PM on Saturday, November 18.