Happy Father’s Day to all our fathers! I pray for you in a special way as you perform the awesome task of modeling for your children how to be loving, caring Catholics. I pray that you always remember that
actions speak louder than words.
Last weekend, we presented the final reflection on Living the Gift of Sunday. I thank the parishioners who were willing to share their experiences in short videos that accompanied various chapters. If you have not taken advantage of these reflections during the last 10 weeks, I invite you to do so: they continue to be available here.
Our Gospel this Sunday invites us to ask ourselves if we really believe that God is in control. That all will be OK. Really! The disciples were in a boat on very rough seas. Talk about not having control! Jesus was there but they were still afraid.
Jesus is in our boat, but when things are tough it can be difficult to “feel” that; the important thing is that we BELIEVE it. The older I get, and as I look back on my life, the clearer it is to me that God has been in control. I share one incident from my life:
When I was 17, I was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was confined to a sanatorium in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Since there was no medicine at that time, it was possibly a life sentence! I struggled to calm myself and trust that all would be OK. The following happened: my parents agreed for me to take experimental drugs, they worked (they became the go-to T.B. drugs), a hospital administrator asked a friend in the State Legislature to get me released ahead of what was allowed by law, and I was released a couple days before I had to report to the Salvatorian novitiate to begin my official entrance into the community. It is incredible all the things that fell into place, allowing me to continue my journey to be a member of the Salvatorian Family. For me, it was a miracle: Jesus took control and calmed the seas of what seemed to be an impossible situation.
This is a rather dramatic example from many incidences in my life where I can see that God was in control, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. I invite you to take some time this week to reflect on your life. Were there times you felt that things were going badly but they turned out to be a blessing? Can you see God’s hand in what has happened to you? How easy is it for you to trust that God is in control?
Let us pray with St. Thomas: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. God bless.
Church sign of the week: The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
Parishioners have been pleased with our new protocols for Mass, with one side of the church keeping social distancing and masks, while the other side has no social distancing and masks optional if you are fully vaccinated. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly. I hope that people will feel comfortable returning: while virtual participation is better than nothing, experiencing the Body of Christ, both in the community gathered and the Eucharist, is essential to our worship experience.
Our Gospel today gives us two agricultural parables for the Reign of God: one about a seed, which is planted but then grows without the farmer knowing or controlling what is happening and the other about a mustard seed, which, while tiny, grows into a huge bush.
It helps to know the context Mark was addressing with these parables. The early Jewish Christians continued believing, as did the Jews, that if things were going well, God was pleased and blessing you. However, things were not going well: the Christians were rejected in Jerusalem and being killed in Rome. They were discouraged and their faith shaken. Mark was assuring them, through these parables, that God is in control, that the Reign of God is in His hands, and that all will be okay.
That message is summarized quite well by Paul in our second reading: “we walk by faith and not by sight.” This is a message we need to hear today. The pandemic has turned many things upside down. Gun violence, racism, inequity, injustice, partisanship, division both in our country and Church – it can seem like our world is unraveling. However, our faith tells us that God is in control and that, ultimately, all will be okay.
That does not mean we don’t have to do anything. We have to plant our little seeds. We have to live Gospel virtues such as love, forgiveness, and generosity, doing our little part to help the Reign of God grow.
As St. Julian of Norwich said, All will be well and all manner of things will be well, but we need to cooperate. I invite us to reflect on how well we are doing at planting the little seeds that will help bring about the Reign of God. Our country and world desperately need these seeds. Let us support each other in prayer, as we struggle to do so.
Church sign of the week: The will of God will never take you where the love of God will not protect you.
This is our second weekend with new Covid protocols. I thank everyone for their cooperation. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
I enjoyed celebrating the graduation Mass this past Thursday. I promised the graduates that we would accompany them in prayer as they begin a new phase of life. Congratulations! Thank you to their parents and the staff at Wauwatosa Catholic for a great job of mentoring them.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). Our three readings bring together the significance of this feast, tying together all of God’s relationship with humanity.
The reading from Exodus presents the first covenant God made with His people through Moses. Blood was splashed on the altar and on the people, sealing the covenant. In the second reading, the author of Hebrews explains that Christ is the eternal High Priest. Since He Himself was blameless, His sacrifice was a once and for all offering for the salvation of all of us. No need for anything else. The Gospel is Mark’s version of the Last Supper: in anticipation of His death, Christ’s institutes the “new and eternal covenant of His Blood.”
What does this mean for us? First, it means we are redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice: He offered Himself up for us. Second, through the institution of the Eucharist, Christ incorporated us into His Body and gives us the food we need to live as His disciples. Just as the food we eat nourishes our physical bodies and gives us the health and strength we need to live a productive life, the spiritual food of Christ’s Body and Blood nourishes us spiritually and gives us the spiritual health and strength we need to live Gospel values and bring the Good News to others.
It is not easy to always think of others. It is not easy to wash feet. It is not easy to forgive. It is not easy to love others as we love ourselves. For that reason, we have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us (which we celebrated two weeks ago on Pentecost) and the Eucharist to strengthen and sustain us.
The Lord wants us to succeed. He gives us the help we need. Am I taking the best possible advantage of these great supports the Lord has given me?
With grateful hearts, let us thank the Lord for His support. May the Body and Blood of Christ bring us to everlasting life!
Church sign of the week: The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.
Congratulations to our eighth-grade students who will graduate this Thursday. We accompany you in prayer as you move to a new phase of your life. Thank you for being such good role models for the younger students. We are proud of you.
This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. It is a mystery; we cannot understand it. But I believe we can learn from it. It is an appropriate feast to follow Pentecost.
If you remember, last week I commented on the reality, presented in our reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, that the Spirit has given each of us different gifts that we need to use in service to others.
One way of looking at the Trinity reinforces this:
God the Father: this is the aspect of God that created the world, that brought us into being and sustains us.
God the Son: this is the redeeming aspect of God, Jesus, our Brother, Who came among us to show us by example how to live in this world, Who suffered and died for our redemption.
God the Holy Spirit: this is the sanctifying aspect of God, the God who leads us in life and urges us to move out of ourselves in service to others, the God who helps us to be holy in everyday life.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, one God with three different gifts or functions: creating, redeeming, and leading. But, they work in unity for the good of all. That is what we are called to do: work together, using and respecting each other’s gifts, so that others can see the love of God in us and be attracted to our joy and peace.
My prayer for our community, as we celebrate this feast of the triune God, is that we can work together, using our diverse gifts for the building up of God’s Kingdom. Let us remember and pray for that each time we cross ourselves saying, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Church sign of the week: The Lord moves in mysterious ways, but you don’t have to. Please use your turn signal.
It was a humbling experience to watch the beatification of our Salvatorian founder, Francis Jordan last Saturday. Because I can understand Italian, especially in a “church” context, I was able to watch it without the distraction of translation. It was also moving for me to see many members of the Salvatorian Family that I have not seen since I left Rome over 8 years ago. I am praying to Jordan for our parish community, that we may grow toward our goal of “making disciples of all people,” a central aspect of Jordan’s mission. Blessed Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan, help us to be true disciples.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Church - happy birthday! The Spirit descended on the disciples and sent them out to bring the Good News to all they met. We have been given that same task, the task of “making disciples of all people.” How can we do that?
We can bring the Good News to the world by using the gifts that have been given to us. Each one of us has time, talent, and treasure, given to us by God. These gifts are for our benefit, but also for the benefit of His Body, the Church. We are called to use our gifts to bring Christ’s love to others.
Time: when we think of giving, sometimes we only think of money or things. But each of us has 24 hours in each day and some of our most important sharing can be with our time. There are so many people who are alone, unable to move around and go out. A visit, or even a telephone call, can be worth more than a lot of money to those who are isolated. Even if I, myself, cannot get around much, I certainly can call others! If we are alert, we will find ways to reach out to others in a way that shares Christ’s love with them.
Talent: often we think of specific skills, for example, someone who works in the finance area can volunteer on the parish Finance Council. Then we can think, ”I don’t have much to offer.” But we do. Can you push a lawnmower? How about helping an elderly neighbor who struggles with that task? I am going to the grocery store; suppose I asked an elderly neighbor what I could pick up for them? If we are alert, if we are thinking of others and not just ourselves, opportunities will jump out at us.
In the Catholic Digest, there was a column, called “The Perfect Assist,” that shared stories about how one little act of kindness, done in Christ’s name, brought someone to our Lord. Ultimately, it is the Lord who draws people to Himself, but often He uses us as instruments.
Treasure: as anyone who has traveled to third world countries can tell you, we are so blessed here in the United States, even those of us deemed “poor” by our country’s standards. We are called to think of others and share with them from all we have, not simply from what is extra or left over after we have satisfied all our wants and needs. I remind us of the parable of the widow’s mite.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Church, the Body of Christ, I invite us to reflect on how we use our time, talent, and treasure to bring others to Christ. How can we do better? Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love. God bless.
Church sign of the week: A good example has twice the value of good advice.
Finally, we can say “Blessed Francis Jordan,” after his beatification in Rome early in the morning (for us) of May 15th. I pray that Jordan will intercede for us, that we may grow in our ability to be disciples who bring God’s love to the world. Blessed Francis Jordan, pray for us.
Thank you to those who contributed items to the Wauwatosa Catholic’s project for homeless youths. The student who was collecting the items was “blown away” by the amount of support.
On July 1st, Mary Nold-Klett will replace Ron Skelton as the Trustee Treasurer. I thank Mary for her willingness to offer her time and talent in this role. I also thank Ron Skelton for his years of service.
After a discernment session last week, the Pastoral Council asked Chris Graham to take a second term on the council and Susan Baglien to join the council, effective July 1st. I thank them for their willingness to serve. I also thank Megan Gonzalez, whose term expires on June 30th, for her service to our community. At its June meeting, the council will elect leadership for the coming year and
discern council and committee liaisons. I thank all members of the council for this important leadership service to our community. Please support our Pastoral Council and all our ministry groups with your prayers.
Our chapter in Living the Gift of Sunday this week is Sunday is a Day of Loving Sacrifice. Please take time to reflect on it, as a family.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension (which actually fell on this past Thursday). There are three big feasts in the Easter Season: Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost. It is important to see how they are related and how they apply to us.
The Easter season begins with the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead and stayed with his disciples for 40 days, showing them by word and example how they were to live. Now they were to go forth to the ends of the world and spread the Good News. But they would not do it while he was around: all their focus would be on Him. So, Jesus got out of the way, so to speak: he returned to His Father. We celebrate the Ascension 40 days after Easter.
How difficult it must have been for the disciples to see Him go again! He had died, then He was back. One of them even asked: NOW are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel? But He was gone again.
Despite their encounter with the risen Lord, the disciples still could not go out on mission. They are asked why they are standing looking at the sky, paralyzed, in a sense. They needed the help of the Holy Spirit to empower them to go forth and share the Good News. So, next Sunday we celebrate the final feast in this trilogy: Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit.
St. Luke, who wrote a Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, addresses his words in both books to “Theophilus,” literally “lover of God.” That stands for each of us who loves God. We are called to bring the Good News to the world around us. Alone, we can’t do it. But, like those first disciples, we have the gift of the Spirit to help us.
In one sense, this is sort of an “in between” time: Jesus has ascended to His Father, but has promised to come again. Our task, as a “Theophilus,” is to help bring about the Kingdom by the way we live. How are we doing? I invite us to reflect on that this week, as we wait to celebrate this coming Sunday the great gift of the Holy Spirit, which empowers us to bring God’s love to others. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Adam and Eve: first ones to ignore Apple terms and conditions
Br. Edward Havlovic, SDS, who lived in the Salvatorian community here at St. Pius X for many years, died peacefully on May 2nd at the age of 90. Please remember Br. Edward in your prayers.
The theme of our readings today is that WE ARE CHOSEN by God, then sent to show love, WITH NO RESTRICTIONS! Peter says it well in the first reading from Acts of the Apostles when he says, In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. The Jews believed they were the only chosen ones; Peter is telling them that God loves all people equally.
The first letter of John reinforces that God loves all people, using the word agape to describe God’s love. Agape is not an emotional or physical love (eros from which we get our word erotic), but rather a selfless concern for the good of the other person. It is how God loves us and continues to love us, no matter what we do. Our Gospel then gives us Jesus’ ultimate commandment: love one another, as I have loved you, that is, with agape.
These three readings fit together so well in reminding us of the special love that God has for us and our responsibility to bring that love to others. It is not because others deserve the love or have earned our love; it is because we are sharing the love which God has shown to us, a love that we didn’t earn.
These are perfect readings to have fallen on Mother’s Day. A truly good mother has a special kind of love for her children, a love that the children did not have to earn, a love that is freely given and remains, despite what the children may do.
My friends, this is what we need to do to live the Gospel, to bring about the Kingdom. It is that simple and that hard. All our actions need to be judged against this command: love one another, as I have loved you.
I invite us to reflect on God’s love for us and how well we are doing at bringing that love to others. As we move through life, may we grow in our ability to do so! We remember our mothers in prayer in a special way today. May God bless them always.
Church sign of the week: How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies thought the world needed one of you, too! (Thanks Mom: happy Mother’s Day)
Congratulations to the children (their names are on the bulletin cover) who will receive their First Communion at the 10:30 am Mass this Sunday. May they always value the Body of Christ as the food that strengthens them to be good disciples. Thank you to their parents for bringing them to this important step in their faith journey.
Our nomination process for parish leaders has ended with 9 parishioners nominated for two pastoral council seats. Those nominated will be invited to a discernment session on May 5th. No one received 10 nominations for trustee, so I will appoint one, in discussion with the Parish Leadership Team. Two parishioners volunteered themselves, if they would be needed. Please keep the selection process in your prayers.
We have an interesting story in our selection from Acts of the Apostles. Paul, recently converted, comes to Jerusalem and the community does not want to accept him: they are afraid of him, they fear he might be a trojan horse. (Earlier in Acts, we are told: Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment). The Christians can only remember his recent vehemence in persecuting the Church.
Enter Barnabas: Barnabas was able to focus on what was happening, not the past. As a result, he was able to see that Paul had changed, that the Holy Spirit was in him, and that he could be trusted. We are told Barnabas “took charge of him and brought him to the apostles.”
Who has been a Barnabas in my life? Who was able to see past my flaws to the gifts that God has given me? Who enabled me to use those gifts for good?
To whom have I been a Barnabas? Am I able to look past the mistakes and flaws of others to see the talents they have, the talents that can be used for good? Am I willing to go out of my way and risk helping that person be
accepted, to help that person use their gifts for good? Is my way of looking at people and situations similar to the way Barnabas did?
All of us have flaws, all of us make mistakes, but all of us have God-given talents that can be used for the good of others. Sometimes we need the help of others to break through and use our gifts for good; sometimes we can be the one who helps someone else. The secret is not to always be focused on the past, but to look at people and situations from the perspective of what can be happening NOW that is good.
God wants to use us to help others be the best that they can be. Are we open to doing that? Are we open to others helping us? How can we be more open? And remember: Communion is the food that gives us the strength to be open! God bless.
Church sign of the week: Lay up your treasures in heaven where there is no depreciation.
Congratulations to Reagan McGinty, who will receive her First Communion at the 10:30 am Mass this Sunday. May she always value the Body of Christ as the food that strengthens her to be a good disciple. Thank you to her parents for bringing her to this important step in her faith journey.
Our chapter for this week from Living the Gift of Sunday is “Sunday is the day that belongs to God.” I will be accompanying you in prayer, as you read and reflect on this chapter.
Just as the second Sunday of Easter is always Divine Mercy Sunday, the fourth Sunday is always Good Shepherd Sunday. Jesus is certainly our Good Shepherd.
The analogy of a good shepherd involves a strong relationship. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and will obey; the shepherd will go to great lengths to protect his sheep. It is a deep relationship, the kind of relationship mirrored by Mary Magdalene, who recognized Jesus by the way He said her name.
In all of my religious education as a child (called catechism, back then), a personal relationship with Jesus was never mentioned. It was always memorizing the catechism and other things about God and the Church.
In the last couple of years, our religious education has been transitioning to using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Its goal is to help children, from an early age, build a personal relationship with the Lord. The sessions are held in dedicated spaces, called atriums, which have reproductions of Catholic items (for example, an altar and all things used in the Mass) and symbols. To this point, the atriums have been at Christ King; the opening of an atrium here at Pius has been delayed by the pandemic, but it will open this summer for K3-K5.
The children learn the basics of our faith, but, first and foremost, they build a personal relationship with the Lord. That strong relationship will help them weather the challenges that they will face as they transition into adulthood more than simply having information.
I strongly recommend this program for our children. And perhaps the children will help their parents strengthen their relationship with the Lord, as the parents are accompanying them.
Please keep our Director of Formation for Children (Samantha El-Azem), her assistants, and all our children in your prayers, that all may grow in a strong personal relationship with the Lord. I encourage you to enroll your child in this wonderful program by calling Samantha.
May we, also grow in our personal relationship with our Good Shepherd! God bless.
Church sign of the week: Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.
This week we are called to focus on the SECOND chapter of Living the Gift of Sunday. The three relevant pages for this week, as well as a video of a parishioner sharing what Sunday means to him, are available here. I invite you, as a family, to spend time this week with chapter TWO: Sunday is a Day of Peace.
This Friday, April 23rd, the 10 martyrs from the diocese of our sister parish will be beatified in Quiché, Guatemala. Please take a few minutes of prayer on Friday in solidarity with our sister parish and all those who have suffered violence.
Our reading from the first letter of St. John reminds us of what is crucial if we want to live out our belief in Jesus Christ: The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
And what are His commandments? Love of God as shown through love of neighbor. That is very clear from various places in the Gospels, not the least of which is the parable of the Last Judgment: When I was hungry, you gave me to eat…a stranger and you welcomed me…ill and you cared for me…in prison and you visited me…
We cannot say we love God if we are not showing it through love of others. We all have been given time, talent, and treasure that we can share with those in need. Are we doing it? Do we visit or call those who are homebound or in institutions? Do we use our education and skills to help those in need? Do we support worthwhile causes?
All of our religious practice needs to be helping us show love of God through love of neighbor. I invite us this week to reflect on how we are doing and how we could do better. God bless.
Church sign of the week: If excuses came to church, the pews would be full.