Pastoral Letter for July 19, 2015

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One Flock, One Shepherd

Our readings this Sunday focus on the image of “shepherd”.  It is a central image of the Scriptures and our Tradition.  Has it become trite for us?  Has it been sanitized?  In reality, shepherding is a messy and difficult business.  That fact became much clearer to me as I worked for two summers in college as a shearer, and as I watched shepherds at their work in Israel during a semester of theology.  God’s great work in the world is to care for the people He has made.  He wants us to find rest, be fed and healthy, and love one another.  This is what can often slip between the cracks when we think about the Good Shepherd: GOD LOVES OTHER PEOPLE TOO.  To think about God caring for oneself – shepherding just me – is easier to think about (on the surface).  But to remember that God cares for all and calls all, this can chafe our spirit.  What if we don’t like him?  What if her ideas are terrible?  What about the harm he’s caused?!?  This Sunday and always we celebrate that, thanks be to God, all are called into Christ’s fold.  We’re lucky really because that ‘all’ includes ‘me’.The readings this Sunday challenge us to remember again that God’s love is personal and universal.  Jeremiah reminds us that God takes care of His People and their bad shepherds; Jesus shows us His concern for His disciples and even those who don’t believe in Him; Paul reminds his Jewish audience that the Kingdom is big enough for Gentiles as well.  Who in our estimation should be excluded from the fold?  In every time and place this is a real challenge in the Church and world.

 

Pope Francis beautifully spoke to this struggle to really speak to one another in love during this Easter season:

Obedience often brings us along a path that is not the one I think should be, but along another path.  To obey is to have the courage to change paths when the Lord asks this of us.  “The one who obeys has life eternal,” while for “the one who does not obey, the wrath of God remains upon him (Jn 3:36).”…the sign that reveals that a person does not know to dialogue, is not open to the voice of the Lord, to the signs that the Lord does among the people, is the fury and the desire to silence all those who preach in this case the newness of God, that is that Jesus is Risen…These are the same people that paid the guards at the sepulchre to say that the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus. They did everything they could to not open themselves to the voice of God.  May the Lord Jesus shepherd us into this way of Gospel life, the way of reconciling love.  We may not always agree with each other, but God help us to love another as He commands.

Sunday Bulletin for July 19, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for June 28, 2015

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Thank you for St. Anne’s Fest!

“Falling at the feet of Jesus” . . . have we learned to put our suffering in the hands of Jesus?  How does suffering move us closer to Jesus?  What might we need to learn through our suffering?  In reading the gospel, both individuals who come to Jesus fall down before him.

The daughter of Jairus is sick; the gospel does not tell us its length of time.  Jairus has come to see Jesus – we do not know whether this was easy or a long journey.  The suffering of his daughter has brought him to Jesus.  Perhaps he has consulted with every other known opportunity.  When he falls at the feet of Jesus, he is coming with hope that this person finally can help him.  He is putting his whole being in the power of Jesus.  His suffering, so great, is leading him to trust in the power and presence of God.  He is learning to have faith in God.

The woman who has hemorrhages has been sick for twelve years.  No one else has been able to help her.  She has been suffering.  She too comes to Jesus with the hope that this person has a power unlike any other person to heal her.  Her faith is so strong that she doesn’t need any miraculous encounter with Jesus – she just needs to touch his cloak.  Realizing that she may have overstepped, she comes and falls down at the feet of Jesus.  She needs faith that he will not remove her healing, but understand her great need.  Her suffering has taught her great humility.

Suffering has the power to transform us.   God has not promised a time limit on suffering.   In the midst of suffering, we can consider how God is the best resource in our lives by which we can receive what we need.  Because of our suffering, we are willing to fall at the feet of Jesus and wait for God’s grace to provide for us.  Would we do so without suffering?  There are many ways to find God; how might suffering be one way which leads us to God?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Thank you to all who are present to help, to participate, to enjoy the Fest!  We are grateful for the fellowship, fun and a bit of fundraising unfolding – Thanks for helping this event to be a success!

As a transition occurs and we begin a new fiscal year, plans are underway as to how scheduling needs to happen.  In this coming year, the school Mass on Wednesdays will be the only liturgy offered when St. Anne Parish is assigned.  A Communion Service at 7:00 a.m. is not possible due to the lack of availability of Leaders of Prayer.  Thank you in advance for understanding the need for this change.

Diocesan Annual Appeal – The check for our Diocesan Appeal is being processed.  We have met the target with the use of Stewardship Funds.  Thank you to all who gave generously!  A new year begins shortly – please be ready to offer assistance as we receive a new target!

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for June 28, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for June 21, 2015

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Welcome to St. Anne’s Fest!

Be still!  Be quiet! – Jesus speaks these words to the waves and they are calmed.  The disciples in the boat are questioned as to their faith.  Consider the opportunity to reflect on two things.

What are the waves in which we might feel that we are perishing?  As we listen to the news, read the paper or simply have an awareness on what is happening in our community or neighborhood, what are the concerns which we might carry?  Using the image of the boat, we are sailing on a journey of life.  What makes that journey easier?  What might capsize the boat?  Are we bringing these concerns to Jesus?  Our faith invites that we understand happenings in our world might need the power of God.  Trust is necessary to believe that the waves will not capsize the boat; rather God is working to bring calm to our fears.  Prayer is the willingness to entrust our concerns to God.

Have we the faith?  Do we believe that Jesus can simply say – “Be still!  Be quiet!”?  Is the power of God so great that we can sail our boat and not worry that waves are tossing us about?  Our gospel suggests that we are to have such faith.  As long as Jesus is in our boat, we can rest easy that all things are conquered by God.  In our humanness, we can too readily question the power of God.  We can have doubt about the safety of our boat.  Our attendance at church is the opportunity to be reassured of God’s power, strengthened by the food that nourishes our faith and confidence that Jesus is steering our boat well.  Have we such faith?  Be still!  Be quiet!  How will this be true for us?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Thank you to all our volunteer gardeners!  The grounds are looking great!  Your hard work is much appreciated and adds beauty to our church!

A new custodian has been hired – Dean Brzezinski.  He is part-time to assist with the cleaning needs of the lunch room and school.  We are grateful to have him join our staff.  If you happen to see him, please welcome him and introduce yourself.  Welcome Dean!

A search has begun to replace our weekend custodian.  Please pray for a good candidate to emerge who might be able to help us with our many custodial needs.  Thanks!

Thank you to all who are present to help, to participate, to enjoy the Fest!  We are grateful for the fellowship, fun and a bit of fundraising unfolding – Thanks for helping this event to be a success!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – To meet the deadline for accomplishing the Appeal target and not incur debt, the remaining amount will need to be paid from General Operations of the Parish.  In the event that you are completing your pledge or may still offer a gift to our appeal, the monies will be used for the good of the parish.  Thank you to all who gave generously!  A new year begins shortly – please be ready to offer assistance as we receive a new target!

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for June 21, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for June 14, 2015

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We Know Not How

For all the marvelous learning of the sciences in the last one hundred years there are still so many more questions than answers in our world.  The uncomfortable realm of question is really the everyday space of ours lives, but this is in no way a bad thing.  I like to think of these unknowns of life as evidence that we are built for faith.  Or put another way, built for relationship.  Every relationship we have in our life forces us to rely on something other than our own knowledge or strength.  Relationships are all about giving to and receiving from another, not from oneself.  Our Gospel this Sunday speaks of this reality.  Jesus tells us of a farmer who watches the seeds he scattered sprout and grow “he knows not how.”  I don’t think this farmer was any duller than you or me.  His living in the past doesn’t mean that he didn’t understand how the world worked, while we do.  No, I argue that a seed’s coming to fruit is still and always will be chock full of mystery.  We only understand a part of its living and dying, and its passing on of life.  The farmer must rely on a wisdom beyond his own, and in the delicate dance of his skill with faith he watches in wonder as seeds come to bloom.  So too in our life.  This parable prompts a question, “What is slowly growing now for us?”  There is a great deal that we won’t understand day to day, millions of moments that are beyond our power to understand or control.  But faith in God gives us hope.  His love has sustained every moment of life in this world till now, and Jesus invites us to trust in this hidden wisdom and power of God.  This faith isn’t ill-founded or foolish.  It is grounded in the most stable and lasting power of all.  This isn’t foolish.  Would we say that our other relationships are?  No, having faith in God is actually a skill we have to use all the time in life anyhow.  The great difference between the questions of faith and the other questions of daily life is this though: God is always faithful.

God Bless You, Fr. Matt

Sunday Bulletin for June 14, 2015

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Pastoral Letter for June 7, 2015

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Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – an opportunity to highlight a Eucharistic miracle which has been document in Buenos Aires during the time that Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  Science gives us reason to consider the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

On August 18, 1996 Fr. Alejandro Pezet was informed of a discarded host which was left on a candleholder in church.  Unable to consume it, he placed it in water within the tabernacle so that it might dissolve.  When checking the tabernacle on August 26, he discovered that the host had changed into a bloody substance.  With consultation from Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), Fr. Pezet had the bloody substance photographed on September 6.  These pictures show that the bloody substance had grown in size.  This host remained in the tabernacle for several years.  With no visible signs of decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.

On October 5, 1999, a sample of the bloody fragment was sent to New York to be analyzed by a team of scientists.  They were not informed of its origins, but only asked to share their results of this bloody substance.  Dr. Frederic ‘Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”’  When questioned on the ability of this sample to exist apart from a live heart, the answer was given that it would only remain alive for a matter of minutes if kept in water.

The mystery of this host invites a willingness to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Journalists have authored a book “Reason to Believe” which documents Eucharistic miracles and the sign given to believe that Jesus abides in a real way through Eucharist.  As we celebrate this Feast, each of us should consider our belief in real presence.  How do we encounter the heart of Jesus when we receive?

Sharing news about the parish . . .

Thank you to the Adminstrators, Teachers, Staff, Students and Parents for another successful school year!  Congratulations to our Newman Catholic School System and the Public/Private Schools of our area!  Have a great summer!

Diocesan Annual Appeal – Gifts have slowed such that plans are underway to determine how much of the budget needs to be used to meet our Appeal target.  We have $82,899 in cash, pledges of $84,597.  To reach our target, we still need over $14,000.  Please consider helping us to reach our target; we have a few weeks to raise the remaining dollars!

May the blessings of God be showered upon you this week!

-Fr. Al

Sunday Bulletin for June 7, 2015

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