Recently our parish has invested in an amazing online program that allows each and every parishioner access to hundreds of Catholic Media sources. Formed.org now has a free app that you can download on your devices that makes it even easier to use. You can get movies, documentaries, books, audio tracks and resources to grow in your Catholic Faith. Every parishioner here at Nativity of Mary has 24/7 access to the best Catholic content on any device, including:
1). Go to the Formed.org homepage (or download the app from your app store provider)
2). Sign up by entering the parish code under “Does your parish already have FORMED?” Our parish code is: CG6WDR
3). Create a personal account with your user name/email and password (NO COST TO YOU!)
4). Start enjoying the best Catholic content all in one place!
If you have desired to grow in your faith but have not found the right way to go about it, this is the resource that you have been looking for. Each person has come to Christ by means of a very unique path. Thus, resources like FORMED, allow for the individual to seek after what resource will best serve their spiritual needs on this leg of the journey. Please give it a try and see how incredibly blessed we as Catholics are to have such an incredible tradition to draw from.
- Fr. Nathan
Recently a dear friend of mine sent me an article written by Rev. Peter Bauer entitled, “Religious Outlier”. In it he says: “We are living in interesting and challenging times. Despite all of our advancement in technology and communication, there is a sense, for quite a number of people, of feeling detached and rootless. I agree with Arianna Huffington that we need to develop a GPS for the Soul.”
His articulation of needing to develop this Spiritual GPS brought me back to a book that I read while in seminary by Luigi Giussani entitled, “The Religious Sense”. In this work he speaks about how each person has, within themselves, a sort of religious sense. Just as we have our five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) so too we human beings, who were created in the image and likeness of God, have an innate sense that there is ‘more’ to this world. If one were to simply study world religions it becomes even more unarguable that there is something in the heart of humanity that knows they are to commune with the Divine.
However, this sense, just like any of our other five senses, can be honed in, or neglected. We have in this world, some people who have an incredible ear for sound, others that can make distinctions between different types of food and the seasonings that are in them, and of course the art critic that can see a whole array of colors and textures that the average eye may overlook. All these examples are of people who have finetuned their senses to maximize what they are capable of. The spiritual sense works in a very similar way. If we ignore its existence it will atrophy, however, if we invest in exploring it, the spiritual sense can become quite heightened to detect spiritual realities in this world that many may just overlook.
The Rev. Bauer continues in his article saying, “Maybe this tracking system for you is embedded in religious tradition, perhaps instead in nature or in music or in solitude or in community. Wherever you may find it, it’s important that you pursue it so that you can find being present to yourself and to others and...to your world.” What Fr. Bauer is commenting on is not that the spiritual life is arbitrary, but rather that one has to start somewhere to experience those transcendent elements of life. I would like to offer a suggestion on how to explore this ‘spiritual sense’ in our lives.
It primarily occurs by taking time to be silent and free from distractions. Our world is always moving… and moving fast! Without actually stepping back and having time to recollect and take in what is around us we will keep on missing it. It is like the person who walks through an art museum and comes out saying, “well that was boring”. What they were looking for in the museum experience was not the visual appreciation of people’s perspectives on the world through art, but simply to accomplish a museum.
Had they simply lingered and taken in some paintings/ sculptures, they couldn’t help but be moved. To simply put down our phones, or to go for a walk without any music or conversation, can often make us see what we don’t often observe; the movement of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate way to go about this is to set aside at least 10 min of silent prayer every day. This intentional action engages the religious senses of the soul to encounter God, which strengthens our ability to detect the happenings of the Divine.
This past June all of the priests of this Archdiocese were summoned down to Rochester to meet for our Biennial Presbyteral Assembly. This year’s theme was Ministering to Millennials, which was fascinating to me since I, myself, am a millennial. The four-day conference began by revealing to us the staggering statistics of the increase of what modern historians have dubbed the “Nones”: people who say they have NO religious affiliation. This new demographic of society is largely the Millennial Generation (those born between 1981-1996). As of 2018, these “Nones” have surpassed those who profess to be evangelical Christians in America.
After presenting the dismal backdrop of the society that we as a Church are called to minister to, the next presenter took the stage. She offered to us priests some fascinating solutions on how to bridge the gap in ministry to the Millennial Generation; however, she warned us that it would require changes in our parishes.
So I am writing to you as a parish today to see what your thoughts are on some of her suggestions to the Presbyterate of our Archdiocese. I want to see if you are open to making some adjustments to how we do things at Nativity of Mary for the purpose of bringing into our community an entire generation that is moving more and more towards no affiliation with religion.
The first thing that the presenter suggested was that when we host social events to have healthy food and drink options available. She mentioned how Millennials are known for being more health conscious. Thus, when we have parish events it is a must to have fruit/ vegetables/ healthier snacks and sparkling water for a beverage. Simply having these options makes the parish seem that we too care about the Body, not just the Soul of the human person.
The other event-driven advice surrounds how we advertise events at the parish. The presenter stated that we should say that any given event is simply for a limited time. She interestingly referred to the modern phenomenon of F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out), which drives a lot of the decisions that Millennials regularly make. Because of the heavy use of social media among Millennials, there exists an underlying fear that they may miss out on what is out there so they should rush to be a part of it ASAP. Thus, prolonged programs do not usually appeal to the Millennial crowd, seasonal ones with limited availability do however.
The next section of the presentation surrounded access to the Sacraments. Our presenter said, “Fathers, if you are not offering at least ONE daily Mass in the evening at your parishes you are missing a bunch of Millennials, let alone other people who do not have mornings free, who would come to daily Mass but they can’t because they have jobs and kids to take care of in the morning and can’t get there. By simply moving ONE of your morning Masses to the evening you will pick up an entire demographic that doesn’t have access to the Mass on a regular basis.” She also added, “and in regards to the Sacrament of Confession, no Millennial, let alone a vast majority of the general populous, is going to be able to make a 45-minute window on a Saturday afternoon. You have to offer confessions during times where Millennials, and the average person, are driving to work or dropping off kids for school. If you priests believe that the sacraments are important to your people, then offer them to all your people, not just the ones that can make it.”
Honestly, hearing these points from the presenter made a lot of logical sense, and also resonated with my experience from my Millennial peers. If we want to reach this demographic it will mean that our parish will have to make some changes to how we are currently ministering. I would ask for your feedback on this, and to know if this is indeed a desire of our community to aim at evangelizing a broader section of society, and if so, are we willing to make the sacrifice of change to allow for our Millennial brothers and sisters, as well as others, to be reached?
- Fr. LaLiberte
I recently read a book by Cardinal Robert Sarah entitled, “God or Nothing.” It is an interview with the cardinal about faith. What attracted me to read this book was the poignancy of the title: God or nothing and in that title I found what I believe ought to be the attitude of every Catholic. During my time at Nativity of Mary, I hope that you have heard a theme running through my homilies. No, I’m not talking about White Castle or hockey, but rather, I hope that you have heard the theme that God is real and that you must have a living, breathing, growing relationship with God because this is all that there truly is for us as human beings.
When you were created, the very purpose of your life was to have this active and loving relationship with the God who created you. All of the other activities that we have are subordinate to the relationship that we build with God. All the other relationships that we form in life are subordinate to our relationship with God. All the other projects, goals, desires, successes, failures are subordinate to our relationship with God. Because when we depart from this earth, it will only be our relationship with God that will be carried into eternity and give us hope of eternal life as opposed to eternal damnation.
Continuously build your relationship with God through prayer. Cardinal Sarah said in his interview book, “The most important moments in life are the hours of prayer and adoration. They give birth to a human being, fashion our true identity; they root our existence in mystery.” I agree with this quote entirely. It is only through prayer that our relationship with God is built. That is why we must pray at mass, not merely “attend” mass. That is why we must pray the Bible, not just merely “read” it. That is why we must pray in our service to other people, not just merely “give” to them. Everything we do and everything we are can and ought to be a prayer to God.
To live the Catholic life is a challenge, both externally and internally. We are all tempted, on a daily basis to put something, anything ahead of our relationship with God. Sometimes these are even good and noble things, but they are still not God. And this quote from Cardinal Sarah responds so beautifully to these temptations: “The only way to win this great combat is union with God. Christians will never succeed in overcoming the challenges of the world by appealing to political tools, human rights, or respect for religious liberty. The only true trick for the baptized is prayer and the encounter with Jesus Christ.”
So let us all recognize the reality of our human life as being made for a union with God. And let us truly live what we believe: It is God or nothing.
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
Fr Nathan LaLiberte