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.
Our services during Holy Week went very well. On behalf of all of our community, I thank Kathy Wellenstein and all the musicians and ministers who gave of their time and talent so that we could celebrate these special events in the life, death and resurrection of Christ our Savior. And we can’t forget Bobby Pantuso SDS, who live streamed the Triduum for us. May God bless all of you for your
This week we are called to focus on the first chapter of Living the Gift of Sunday. This booklet is available in the parish office, outside the main church door and online. The three relevant pages for this week, as well as a video of a parish family sharing what Sunday means to them, are available on our website and Facebook pages. I invite you, as a family, to spend time this week with chapter one: Sunday is a Day of Christ’s Resurrection.
Our Gospel this weekend has Jesus appearing twice to His disciples, the first time on Easter Sunday, the second time a week later with doubting Thomas present. Let’s reflect on the 11 apostles a moment (remember, Judas is out of the picture).
As they walked with Jesus, the apostles knew Jesus was special and had special power. They were feeling important as members of His inner circle and looking forward to being MORE important (e.g., James and John coming with their mother to ask for the first and second places in the kingdom).
Then came Jesus’ arrest. They ran away, denied Him. They were hiding in a locked room in fear. They were hollow and empty; their pride and grandiose plans were shattered.
In this state, emptied of selfish desires and feeling very vulnerable and alone, they were ready for the Holy Spirit. After His resurrection, Jesus appears to them and does three things: He tells them to be at peace, He confers the Holy Spirit on them, and He gives them a commission.
There were other times before His death that Jesus had told them to be at peace (e.g., when the storm was tossing their boat), but they could not receive the Holy Spirit while they were full of ambition and selfishness. It is the same for us. Jesus wishes us peace and He offers us His Spirit to strengthen us, so that we can bring His love to the world. But, if we are selfish and proud, we will block it. The more we know we are needy, the more room there is for the peace and Spirit of Jesus.
I invite us to reflect this week on the apostles before and after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. How much are we ambitious and full of ourselves, as they were before Jesus died? How can we grow to understand and feel more fully our neediness and dependency on Jesus and His Spirit? All of this, ultimately, is to make us better disciples, bringing the Good News to others. May God bless us as we strive to grow as disciples!
Church sign of the week: Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.
Happy Easter! May our celebration of the gift of our salvation inspire us to share the Good News with others!
I would be commenting on Holy Week, but that will have to wait until the next bulletin, since this letter is due the Friday BEFORE Holy Week! I thank those who took the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation at our service on March 23rd.
Please note the information on “Living the Gift of Sunday,” which you can find in the April newsletter (which should have arrived this past week) and on our website. I hope you can take advantage of this 10-week reflection opportunity, as individuals and especially as families.
The basic message to us as we celebrate Easter is that after suffering and death comes resurrection, a gift that Jesus bought for us with His life.
What we have celebrated the past four days mirrors the cycle of life: in the fall flowers die, leaves fall from the trees, and seemingly death settles in and stays through winter. However, with spring comes resurrection and we rejoice as the trees begin to grow leaves and the first flowers emerge from the dormant earth. What does that say to us about what we have lived through this past year?
Perhaps because I have always been interacting with people and continuing many of my normal duties (even when my local community was quarantined with Covid, the five of us prayed and ate together and I continued my ministry from home), the pandemic has not weighed heavily on me. However, my pastoral ministry has made me realize that, for many people, it has been a long winter that followed the closing down of activities a year ago.
Where are we in the pandemic? February? March? April? How close are we to spring? We don’t know. But we DO know that spring and the resurrection will come: Jesus has promised! Spring and summer might not look exactly as they did before, but we can make sure that they are better by our attitude.
If we have been looking at the past and pining for it, I invite us to use Easter to turn our minds away from missing the past to the future and how we can make it better than any past. What have I learned during this past year? What is REALLY important and what should my priorities be? How can I make the new “normal,” whatever it will be, better than the past?
With a positive attitude and resolve, we can do it. It doesn’t help to pine for the past; we need to use what we learned this past year to make the future better! I invite us to reflect on this as we celebrate the great feast of the Resurrection. God bless.
Church sign of the week: If excuses came to church, the pews would be full.
This Tuesday, March 23rd at 7:00 pm, we will have our Lenten Reconciliation service. Two of my Salvatorian confreres, Peter Schuessler and Alan Wagner, will assist me in hearing individual confessions in a safe manner. I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in preparation for celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ.
Please note the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday Masses will be prerecorded and available on our website, as well as on our YouTube and Facebook pages. Holy Thursday and Good Friday will be live streamed at 7:00 pm and Holy Saturday will be live streamed at 8:00 pm. I hope you can join us. If you plan to attend any of these services in person, remember you need to register to secure a place. Those who show up without registering will be seated if space is available.
Often the picture that comes to mind when I think of Christ is the strong, radiant, risen Christ. But our scriptures keep reminding us that Christ was a human being like us, with the same emotions, who had to find his way to His Father’s will and accept it. He wasn’t always in control. In our reading from Hebrews we hear, In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death… “With loud cries and tears”! It wasn’t easy.
In the Gospel, Jesus realizes that things are getting closer and closer to a deadly confrontation with the religious leaders. He says that “His hour” has come. He then says, I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. We can see Him going back and forth in His mind: be saved from this hour or accept it? The same dynamic plays out in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus ultimately says, not my will but yours be done.
How was Jesus able to arrive at this point of accepting such a brutal, unjust death? Through His consistent pattern of going off by Himself to be in His Father’s presence and seek guidance. As He started His ministry, He went into the desert for 40 days. During that time, He realized that He was not to be a powerful political leader, thus rejecting Satan’s temptations and accepting His Father’s will. He went off to pray by Himself before He chose His apostles. When He was tired, overburdened, confused, etc., He went off by Himself to be in His Father’s presence and calm down, finding His direction forward. The final time was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, as I noted above, He uttered the ultimate words of obedience, not my will but yours be done.
Like Jesus, we are not in control. “Life happens” and it is sometimes very difficult. How do we cope? How do we find our way forward? Jesus shows us how: give God time and space to be with us and we will surely find our way.
As we enter into the final stage of Lent and prepare for Holy Week and our memorial celebrations of Christ’s suffering and death, I invite us to spend extra time in quiet conversation with the Lord. Like Jesus, we can complain and share our troubles, even with “loud cries and tears,” but we also need to be quiet and listen. Ultimately, we need to be able to say, not my will, but yours be done.
Church sign of the week: If Jesus can rise from the dead, you can get out of bed on Sunday morning.
Each day of the week I post a reflection on the readings of the day on our website, Facebook, and YouTube (except Sunday, because the reflection is the homily in the Mass). On average they are between 1½ and 2 minutes long. My hope is that they will be a help to you for spending a few minutes of quiet time with the Lord each day. I invite you to try them out, if you haven’t done so.
This weekend we begin our discernment process for a trustee and two pastoral council members. Please click here to learn more and submit a nomination.
This weekend we celebrate Laetare Sunday. “Laetare” means “rejoice”; we rejoice because we are halfway through Lent and getting closer to celebrating the wonder of God’s mercy and our Salvation.
Our readings this weekend tell us how loving, compassionate, and merciful our heavenly Father is. Our first reading lists all the horrible sins the Israelites committed, yet God used a pagan emperor to bring them back from exile to Jerusalem and to rebuild the temple.
Listen to the phrases we hear in the second reading from Ephesians: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us…; and …the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Finally, in the Gospel from John, we have one of the most well-known phrases from the Bible: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
All of these remind us that God is our Prodigal Father. He is not out to get us: He is waiting with open arms for us. He gave His Son so we would be saved and He wants that salvation to happen. We just have to accept it.
Lent is a time to evaluate how we are doing at accepting and responding to God’s offer. We are at the halfway point in Lent, a perfect time to evaluate how I am doing. Am I spending quiet time listening to the Lord each day? Am I working to improve in areas where I am failing to show love of God through love of neighbor? Am I becoming more generous and compassionate, in short, merciful, as my Father is merciful?
The Prodigal Father is waiting; are we on the way back to Him? Let us pray for each other as we struggle to grow into the best disciples we can be! God bless.
Church sign of the week: God might call you, but not on your cell phone. Turn it off during church.
Often the mail brings thank you notes from organizations that we support. I opened one this week from the Tosa Community Food Pantry, thanking us for our support. They noted, “We need your donations to keep our shelves full at this time of need.” Our support does make a big difference for these organizations. Thank you.
I am writing the first draft of this letter on Friday, February 26th, the first anniversary of the shooting at the Miller brewery. The community where I live is right behind the brewery and we were locked down into the night.
Shortly after it happened, I described for you what two of my community members experienced. Fr. Jim, who is White, approached the check point closest to our house, showed his driver’s license with his address, and was allowed to go home. Simon, who is Black, did exactly the same thing and was refused entry multiple times. There is no explanation for the difference except skin color.
This incident came to mind, as well as what happened to George Floyd and others, as I reflected on this weekend’s Gospel. Jesus is angry at what is happening in the temple: vendors, conspiring with the religious leaders, are fleecing the poorest of the poor and lining their own pockets. The “perfect Jesus” was angry and took action, but it was a righteous anger, an anger directed at those who would take advantage of the poor and vulnerable.
If we are to be true followers of Jesus, if we want to live as he lived, we, too, need to have righteous anger about social injustices. However, it needs to be a righteous anger that impels us to positive commitment and action towards correcting the social injustices that surround us.
It is much easier to pray, go to church, and follow the Ten Commandments than to get involved in trying to help and protect those who are poor and vulnerable. Sr. Mary McGlone, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, stated this very clearly in a recent reflection. She said, “We join ranks with those who rejected Jesus' message to the extent that we allow a focus on Christ's presence in our temples and tabernacles to dwarf our awareness of his real and much more disturbing presence outside the church walls. The host in the tabernacle is silent, but the prophetic poor tend to clamor for justice, dignity and even love”.
Jesus suffered consequences for His actions in today’s Gospel. It is generally accepted that this happened on Monday of Holy Week and was the last straw that led to His arrest and crucifixion. We need to be willing to sacrifice our comfort, and even security, to bring justice to our world.
Standing up to injustices is an integral part of bringing about the Kingdom of God in this world. I invite us to reflect on this Gospel challenge: am I doing my part to bring justice and equality to our world? Am I willing to sacrifice so that others can be safe? How can I do better? As we struggle to be better disciples, let us support each other in prayer. God bless.
Church sign of the week: The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.