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