May 12, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     As was mentioned in the previous bulletin, Celeste Muehlenthaler is retiring from the position of music coordinator.  Her many years of service to the parish is greatly appreciated. Pray that her other continued - present as well as future - endeavors bear fruit.  As a result of her moving on, this position will be vacant. It averages about ten hours most weeks, though more around the busier times of year, specifically Christmas and Easter.  Anyone who is interested in serving in this capacity should contact me for more information. 

     Wednesday is the memorial of St. Isidore, who is the patron of farmers.  His likeness can be found in the form of a statue at Holy Cross. Your prayer for his intercession might be particularly beneficial this year considering the cooler temperatures and soggy ground make it harder for farmers to get out into the fields.                       ~ Fr. Andrew

 

April 28, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

       Many thanks to everyone who facilitated all the festivities during Lent and the Triduum, helping to make the season and holy days so beautiful and fruitful.  It was very meaningful to me personally since it was my first time here. Please let me know what ideas and/or constructive criticism you might have so we can do even better next year.

       Though the busiest time of year has passed, we are not quite off the hook.  On Sunday we celebrate first Communion followed by Confirmation next Sunday.  Please pray for the children who will receive these sacraments.

       As disappointing as it may have been to see Notre Dame in Paris on fire, remember that Jesus calls us to worship "in Spirit and truth" (John 4:23).  This means that the practice of our faith is not bound by walls, even those of a church. Even more tragic was the murder of everyone in the explosions on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka.  Pray for the merciful and just repose of those souls.           ~ Fr. Andrew 

Palm Sunday Bulletin, April 14, 2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

Probably the busiest week of the liturgical year, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday.  Even though not much seems to happen Monday through Wednesday, it may be seen as a time to transition from Lent to Triduum then the Easter season. Lent ends with the beginning of Mass on Holy Thursday and Triduum, which ends with the evening prayer of the Church on Easter Sunday. Everyone is encouraged to engage as much as possible in the liturgies because they are truly the most important liturgies of the Church that help us focus on the salvation that Jesus Christ won for - and offers - us.

All of that pertains to the Church at large.  On the local level, in our own parish, the festivities continue for the next two weekends with first Communion and Confirmation, respectively.  Please pray for the children who will celebrate these sacraments, that they encounter our Lord and not only allow him to be with them but to do their part to maintain his presence now and for the rest of their lives.

                                               ~ Fr. Andrew 

March 31, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     The fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as "Laetare Sunday."  Laetare is translated from Latin as rejoice.  Why rejoice about what might seem like just another day in this penitential season?  A reason is that it is the first Sunday past the halfway point of Lent. After this day, there are about seventeen more days of Lent and about nineteen until Easter, which begins with the vigil on April 20 at 8:30 PM.

     If you are interested in leading and organizing religious education for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, please let me know, even if you aren't sure and have questions.

     Thanks to Drew, who installed exterior hand rails over the last couple days.  Some of those steps are steep, so please, still exercise caution. The doors going directly into the church will now be open more for those who prefer to use them.

                                                                                                                                                             - Father Andrew

 

March 17, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     Thanks very much to Stacie Hergenreter for her service to the parish as religious education coordinator for pre-kindergarten through 6th grade over the last couple years. She will step down after First Eucharist on April 28 to pursue other endeavors. If you yourself are interested in taking on the position or know someone who might be a good fit, please let me know.

     Congratulations to the Knights on a successful first fish fry of the season. They served about 550 people, which when compared to the largest metro area parish, is phenomenal. Remember that there are two more to go on March 22 and April 5. There are also meals after the stations on the other Fridays of Lent. These are good opportunities to come together as a community and because so many people attend who are not even parishioners, to provide a witness.

     You probably noticed that the feast of St. Patrick is on Sunday this year. Also, a feast day of St. Joseph, this one ranked as a solemnity, which is the highest level, is on the following Tuesday. Regarding our Lenten observance on Sundays, there is no rule that requires us to maintain the penance that we have taken on for the season. However, some people may want to stay on track and not relax, which is okay too. If I understand correctly, the same goes for solemnities, but such days are cause for rejoicing in the Lord and in this particular case, St. Joseph and the example he offers us. So, I even encourage you to do so by foregoing your penance on that day.        ~ Father Andrew 

March 3, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on the 6th.  As usual, in the Gospel Jesus exhorts his disciples, including us, to give alms, pray, and fast.  So, if we struggle with any of these three practices, instead of doing something mundane like giving up coffee or chocolate, let's get back to the basics and focus on these essentials of Christian living.  After all, who are we as the sinners to know what's good for us and who better than Jesus himself to guide us through this penitential season? 

     A device called a "backflow preventer" was installed in both the office and the rectory.  Should there ever again be water going the wrong way through the sewer, this device will prevent it from coming into the buildings.  Thanks very much to our Knights of Columbus council that aided in the financial support of this project. 

     Yet again someone is working hard trying to scam people who have had contact with me at some time, and you may be one of them.  If you receive any kind of message from what appears to be me, most commonly e-mail though now via text on the phone, asking for money or gift cards, please disregard it.                              ~ Father Andrew

 

February 17, 2013 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

   The best part about being a priest is celebrating Mass, especially on the weekends and interacting with you as you come and go.  Probably the next best part is celebrating the sacrament of Baptism, many of which we have recently experienced. It is very encouraging to see the parish grow (and know that I have job security!).

   Another sacrament that Christ himself instituted is that of Reconciliation.  Even though it is not as popular as other sacraments, we still owe it to him and ourselves to celebrate it more often.  Please inform me what might be better times to offer it.

   On a lighter note, to parrot a joke going around online, the groundhog lied!  Apparently, the rodent predicted an early spring this year, but we did not get the memo.  This seemingly constant barrage of winter weather can take a toll on people. Very hard though it may be, strive to remain hopeful.  Ultimately, we hope to be with God for eternity, but that does not mean we cannot hope for warmer temperatures and finer weather. Pray for this gift from Him!         ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 27/ February 3, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thanks very much to Peter Relyea who served the parish as bookkeeper for the last twelve years.  May he enjoy a smooth transition into retirement. Welcome to David Ortega, who has taken over for him.

Even though the office will be closed from the 28th to the 1st, I will still be around and available.  If you do not find me at church, contact me via e-mail or phone, the latter in particular for emergencies.

The feast of St. Blaise is usually on February 3, which is on Sunday this year and the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time gets precedence.  However, blessing of the throats will still be offered after Masses.

You may have noticed that there are no more makeshift offices in the social hall.  Thankfully everyone is mostly settled in. The storm that caused the damage happened about two weeks before I started here.  While I enjoyed (sometimes) the big windows and people coming and going, it is good to have walls for a little more quiet and privacy.

                                                                                                                        ~ Fr. Andrew 

January 6, 2019 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

There is some touching up to do, but everyone should be in their respective office sometime next week.  Therefore as early as Monday you may need to go down the stairs instead of up to get there! Thanks to the staff as well as others who came to do business and have been troopers throughout this ordeal.

Thanks very much to everyone who helped get the church, including both the building itself and people ready for Christmas.  In particular I thank Tom and Jackie Ausman and crew who decorated and Celeste Muehlenthaler and crew who facilitated the music.  Certainly anybody else I am missing, please forgive me and consider yourself thanked!

Overall turnout for the Tuesday evening Mass and subsequent holy hour with adoration was encouraging enough such that I will continue to offer it through the rest of January and perhaps beyond.  Mass is at 6 PM and the holy hour concludes around 7:30.

The feedback about bell ringing at the consecration during Mass has been positive; thank you for that.  Thanks again to Jacob and Heidi Ackerman who donated the set of bells for Holy Cross in memory of their son Albert and to an anonymous family who donated the set for St. Mary.  A reminder: we do not ring the bells just because we can or because we want to figuratively turn the clock back to a different era of the Church. As creatures who are endowed with senses, we react according to how those senses are stimulated.  In this case, of course, we hear the bells and recognize that something of utmost importance is happening. ~ Fr. Andrew 

December 16, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     The Third Sunday of Advent is also referred to as Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete is Latin for "rejoice," the first word of the entrance antiphon and St. Paul repeats it a couple times in the second reading.  A variant of it is employed in the first reading. It is also signified by the pink candle being lit on Advent wreaths. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it will soon be the darkest time of the year due to lack of sunlight.  In a spiritual sense, Jesus is the light in whom we take great joy. He is that light we need in our lives to dispel the darkness that is brought about by sin. Let us not get caught up so much in the frivolities of the season that he is obscured and we are unable to enjoy the season and holiday for what it really is.

     Two families, one at each church, have graciously donated altar bells.  Jacob and Heidi Ackerman have donated a set to Holy Cross in memory of their son Albert.  The other family that donated a set to St. Mary wishes to remain nameless. For those of you who attended Mass before the second Vatican Council, you may recall hearing the bells being rung during the Eucharistic prayer.  It is a tradition that we will continue here at St. Mary and Holy Cross, not just because we can. Ringing these bells serves both a natural and supernatural purpose. Naturally, sometimes we get distracted, even during Mass (imagine that!) and this is a way to refocus our attention.  Supernaturally, it denotes when one of the most important parts of Mass occurs, which is consecration, when the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus. We will renew this tradition at Christmas.                     ~ Father Andrew 

December 2, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

     While it would not technically be wrong to greet someone beginning this Saturday evening with "Happy new year," let us avoid such a trite phrase and focus on what is really happening.  Not only is this the beginning of a new liturgical year, it is also the first Sunday of Advent. The literal translation of 'advent' is 'come toward.' A few less than literal translations are 'arrival,' 'approach,' and 'visit.'  Even though Advent is a liturgical season of its own, it still takes place, like the other seasons, within the context of the overall year. Perhaps another way to think about this is that 'come toward' does not make sense by itself.  It makes reference to something else, in this case, someone.  Of course that someone is Jesus Christ.  So we celebrate Advent to prepare for his coming toward us at Christmas.  A question that we might ask ourselves is, "What will he find when he arrives?"  He inevitably comes, but will we be prepared to receive him?

     Certainly there are many ways to prepare.  Try not to limit yourself, especially when there is a plethora of opportunities to prepare by allowing God to build you up with His grace.  On that note, a couple opportunities here at St. Mary-Holy Cross will be Mass followed by adoration on Tuesdays during Advent from 6 to 7:30 PM and the communal Reconciliation service on December 9 at 2 PM.  Thanks to those of you who have provided feedback that contributed to this extra Mass and prayer time. ~ Fr. Andrew 

November 18, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

How fitting it is that the readings a couple weeks before the end of the liturgical year concern the end times.  And it is all much more dramatic than whatever a Hollywood production could put together. Regardless of how advanced we think we are and despite an insatiable and maybe even unhealthy hunger for knowledge, there is nothing that humanity can do to know when exactly is the end of time.  However, as people with faith in God, we do not need to know and can be consoled, that, as Jesus says in the Gospel, "my words will not pass away."

 

Congratulations to the children who celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time on Saturday.  Every time we pray the Our Father, we ask Him to "forgive us our trespasses." Yet this sacrament is scarcely celebrated here at St. Mary and Holy Cross.  It is currently offered from 4 to 4:30 PM on Saturday afternoons and by appointment. Please let me know what more I might do including adding times. 

                                   ~ Fr. Andrew

 

November 4, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ, 

The second part of the first reading this Sunday is part of a prayer that is known to Jews as the shema. It is one of their most important prayers and as such is recited every day, in both the morning and the evening. It reminds them - and us - of at least two very essential things. First, He is God alone. When Jewish Israel was in its infancy, it was surrounded by other nations and religions that were polytheistic. Monotheism is what helps set apart the Judeo-Christian tradition from other religions. We may not be challenged in the exact same way today, but what are other things and/or other people in our lives that receive more attention from us than God? Second, God is love. By extension, Jesus Christ is love incarnate. He teaches us that loving someone means willing the best for them as they are, even if we do not get something out of it. Sometimes that love is shown by sacrifice, to which he is no stranger.

 

As I understand it, everything that was removed from the offices and education center has been returned. Some touch-up painting remains. It is starting to look normal down there, if there is such a thing as normal. Barb, Peter, and I should be able to move back in the next couple weeks. More important than that, religious education begins this week. 

                                                                                                                                — Father Andrew 

October 21, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

The timing of James' and John's question couldn't have been much worse.  Jesus has just predicted his Passion for the third time and they're more concerned about the glory in which they might get to revel.  Instead of getting angry or sad, Jesus explains that despite his glorification being imminent, the path to it will involve a great deal of suffering.  Their affirmative response to his question about drinking the cup and being baptized indicates that they seem to think this suffering is something they can endure.  Traditionally, James indeed suffered a martyr's death and it's likely that John also suffered, though not in the exact same way, having lived longer and thought to have died of natural causes.  Jesus teaches that regardless of the glory that awaits a faithful Christian after death, the path to it is encumbered with suffering.  In other words, if even Jesus himself suffered, then we shouldn't expect anything different for ourselves.  Thankfully, we don't need to suffer on our own. Jesus gave us the sacraments, particularly baptism and the Eucharist, as alluded to in this gospel. Baptism initiates us into his Church and enables us to more easily receive the grace that God offers us. The Eucharist helps us become more like Jesus in anticipation of the glory to come.  Obviously suffering isn't pleasant, but we have a choice to make: do we shy away from it, seeking earthly pleasures as a distraction, or do we humbly receive everything he offers us to abide until it's our time to enter into that glory?             ~ Father Andrew 

October 7, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the gospel this weekend, Jesus yet again takes a stand that seems to be unpopular in both his time and ours.  Divorce is an unfortunate reality that affects a lot of people, even those who aren't themselves divorced. It's an affront to God's intention for marriage, which is much more than just a contractual obligation between two people.  He instituted it as a sacrament and thus grants the husband and wife the grace to aid in each other's salvation.  The union is intended to be a reflection of God's undying love for - and commitment to - humanity, the best example of which is Jesus' crucifixion.  This means that only death can sever a valid marriage. Because this is God's will, divorce shouldn't necessarily be condoned, regardless of the circumstances.  Granted not all circumstances in a marriage are perfect and in some cases they're downright terrible, so I encourage couples in such situations to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and to contact me about further help that the Church provides.

     As I type this, the carpet is almost done downstairs.  If there's truly such a thing as "normal," we should be a lot closer to it in the next couple weeks, although that isn't a guarantee.  The area should be sufficiently ready for religious education to begin on the 17th.  This has been a long and at times trying process for us and I commend the patience that's been practiced by everyone involved, not that we've had much of a choice.                        ~ Father Andrew 

September 23, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

You may have noticed that there are multiple times in Scripture when Jesus commands people to be silent about his identity as the Messiah. It's a theme that's found mainly in the Gospel of Mark, the book of the Bible from which we take many of our gospel readings for Mass during this liturgical year. We might naturally ask, "Why wouldn't he want people to know that he's the Messiah?" However, that's not the right question, because of course he wants us to know who he is. What he doesn't want to be known as is just someone who goes around curing people. He wants to teach us about God and the love He has for us and that we should love Him and others. It's after this teaching that Jesus gives us the greatest lesson of all and the most evident sign of God's love: his Passion, death, and Resurrection. This is how Jesus Christ is primarily to be known, not just by miracles. It takes time for people to understand that and that's okay. Perhaps this is the point he's making by using the child as an example. Physically speaking, children aren't given solid food right away after birth, they must work their way up to it. Morally and spiritually, they also don't immediately know right from wrong. Instead Jesus is patient with us, not unlike with the apostles in this Sunday's gospel. We do well to imitate him and be patient with others and even ourselves as we grow in faith. 

                                        ~ Fr. Andrew 

September 9, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

     In the first chapter of Genesis, we're told multiple times, "God saw that it was good," referring to His creation. Then in the gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, people recognize that Jesus "has done all things well." Because Jesus is divine, it makes sense that he who has created everything good also does all things well. He'll always be the best example we have of not just being good but also doing good works. It seems so simple. Yet sometimes, perhaps at this particular moment in the Church, when we hear about terrible, disgusting, maddening, and sinful acts committed by bishops and priests, we benefit from this reminder. Let not the sin of someone else become an occasion for us to sin. The Evil One and sin are not defeated by more sin. We're the ones who will lose if we take that approach. Instead, let's strive for holiness, of which Jesus is the best model.

     Even though I've mentioned it a couple Sundays in a row, it's still prudent to go on the record here. First, abuse here at St. Mary - Holy Cross will not be tolerated. Whether you notice it here or elsewhere, contact law enforcement immediately then me. Secondly, even if we're not guilty of abuse, let's still do our part to grow in holiness. Granted, there's nothing we can do to earn God's love and grace, but we can respond to it, for example participating in Mass, praying, and doing acts of charity. Thankfully we have a lot of opportunities to grow in holiness and conform ourselves to Jesus Christ in our Catholic faith. Therefore, please continue to give me input about good activities, specifically, but not necessarily limited to, more Masses, adoration, and reconciliation. ~ Fr. Andrew 

August 12 7 19, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

As the "Bread of Life" discourse continues over the next few weeks, we'll read Jesus' proclamations, this Sunday, that "I am the bread of life" and next Sunday, that "I am the living bread that came down from heaven."  Upon reflection, these phrases were illustrated for me on Wednesday when I was privileged to hold the day-old son of some friends. The baby is a discrete representation of the love that the father has for the mother and vice versa.  True love is meant to nourish everyone involved and to bear fruit. Unfortunately, it seems that the world would have us believe all sorts of distorted notions of love that end up denying the dignity of the person having been created by God in His own image and likeness.  But thankfully in this beautiful example, among many others, the husband and wife nourish each other, and the result is the baby, the fruit of their union.

 

On a practical note, please contact me regarding imminent deliveries of babies.  It's most important if there are complications. Even if there aren't complications, please still notify me so that a visit to the hospital be made and the baby receive a blessing.            - Fr. Andrew

 

July 15 & 22, 2018 Bulletin

Dear Friends in Christ: 

While this isn’t exactly the start that I imagined having here, I wonder if it’s a test by God and/or a display of His sometimes very strange sense of humor.  Nonetheless, I’m thankful to be here serving Him and you.  Please be patient with me as we undergo repairs in the offices and at the rectory and because this is my first time as pastor.  Lastly, know of my prayer for you; please pray for me.  God bless. 

                                - Fr. Andrew