Pastor’s Corner

Preparations

Dear Parishioners,

This time of the year there are all sorts of preparations. I’m sure that you have noticed that the stores are gearing up for Christmas.  In two weeks, the season of Advent will begin. Advent is about the two comings of Christ, in Bethlehem, and at the end of time. The readings this week and next week, the Solemnity of Christ the King, prepare us for Advent by speaking about the second coming and the end of the world.  In today’s Gospel, from Luke, Jesus speaks directly about the end of time.  It is meant to stir up emotions, to get people involved and active in their faith life.

We should just ask ourselves: Am I ready for the end?   Am I moving closer toward God? Do I need to pick up the pace a little bit, particularly through embracing the sacraments and a renewed prayer life?

Today we pray for the courage to put God first in our lives, to make Him the goal of our existence, to strive towards Him throughout our lives, to pick up the pace whenever we can, and to be prepared.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary

 

 

Gospel Reflection

In our life of faith, we are often confronted by beliefs and views that contradict and challenge our Christian faith. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is confronted by the views of the Sadducees on the thorny issue of resurrection – what can we expect after death?

A priestly group within Judaism, the Sadducees were wealthy families who valued social and economic status over the piety and learning that was important to the Pharisees. Most relevant to this encounter with Jesus, they did not believe in or follow any scriptural precepts beyond the Torah – and thus did not believe in the concepts of immortality of the soul or resurrection after death.

But rather than engage them in their rather exaggerated and silly scenario about the seven brothers and the one wife, Jesus instead compares the ways of this world to the ways of the kingdom of God. The God we worship is the God of the living, not of the dead. Those who belong to God and who serve him in life are rightly described as children of God – heirs of the kingdom – who will rise to new life in the resurrection. The rest, those whom Jesus describes as the children of this age, have no hope within them. They are lost for they have nothing to trust in.

As we focus today on our ultimate destiny, let us use the words of Saint Paul and pray that the Lord will direct and encourage our hearts to his love and endurance. May he keep us faithful and strengthen us to be on guard against the Evil One and all that would separate us from the very love and life of God.

 

 

 

75th Anniversary of the Founding of our Diocese

Dear Parish Family,

This week we will celebrate the dedication of the renovated St. Benedict Cathedral of our Diocese and the year long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the founding of our Diocese.  There will be a Mass on November 6th at 3:00 Eastern Time with guests from around the Diocese and church dignitaries from across the country.

Throughout the year, as a Parish we will celebrate by doing different projects of charity. For example, we could provide 75 coats to the Koatz4Kidz.  The idea is to do 75 acts of charity throughout the year and they can be repeated.  Another example would be offering up 75 rosaries for those in need and we could do this each month. We could also offer 75 hours of adoration for those in need.

We are blessed with amazing people, Parishes, Religious, Priests and Bishop. This year we give thanks for the many blessings while we lift up our brothers and sisters who are in need.   Thanks to each of you who are part of our Diocese  and make it amazing.  Blessings to all of you throughout this year of celebration.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

 

Thoughts of Heaven

Dear Parishioners,

A popular question that the school kids ask me is “What will Heaven be like.” I guess all have an image of what heaven is like in our mind. The young probably imagine a place where they can play with toys or computers without limit. They might picture eating an endless supply of ice cream and their pet that just died would be there with them. One might even imagine spending time with their guardian angel. A middle age person might ponder on the opportunity to have all their questions about life answered. An old widow or widower might picture being with their spouse again.

Every one of us tends to project into our image of heaven the things that we believe will make us happy. Doesn’t that make sense? After all Heaven should be a happy place.

I am not certain what heaven will be like. I don’t think that I will be on a cloud strumming a harp. I pray that we all are there one day, just not too soon. I have never been, nor have I met someone who has been there either.  However, I believe in Heaven! I think that heaven is not what we imagine it to be but rather, how God created it.

Since Heaven is really beyond all our understanding, we tend to think of things that make us happy here on Earth and understand that Heaven is even better.  As we celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st, we think of Heaven, the great leaders of the Church, family and loved ones.

Saints are not perfect people who never committed a wrong; instead Saints are people who in life learned to love God above everything else. It is a challenge to trust God and allow him to give sometimes more than we ever imagined. On All Saints Day we honor those who learned to put God first. Their journey was one with many twists and turns, setbacks and successes. Through the trial, they achieved the ultimate goal, holiness! Their lives should inspire us.

All Souls Day (November 2nd) is the day we pray for all Souls in Purgatory. This teaching of the Catholic Church demonstrates God’s promise, hope and mercy. Purgatory should remind us of God’s constant love and mercy and His desire for us one day to be with Him. Thankfully for us Purgatory is one of the last chances for God to make it possible for a person to enjoy the salvation won by Christ.

All Souls Day teaches us that we can always do things for those we love. On All Souls Day the Church invites us to pray for those in purgatory. We ask that God be merciful. Through prayer we remain connected to our loved ones. May God have mercy on us and the whole world. May we be blessed to see God face to face.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

 

Respect for those with Disabilities

Dear Parishioners,

The last two weeks I spoke of Respect for life.  The first week was on the broad range of areas and then I focused on Capital Punishment last week. This week I would like to speak of people with disabilities.  I have counseled couples  when they were faced with the news of expecting a child that was at risk of disabilities.  The news itself was a shock, compounded with feeling dumbfounded when their Doctor asked if they wanted to abort the baby since it would more than likely have disabilities.

Unborn children diagnosed with disabilities are at an extremely high risk of being aborted because abortion is legal in America.  The thought of one life having a better value than another is absurd.  We went through this several times through out history. Here in America we had to deal with the issue of slavery where one life was valued different than another.  During World War II people who did not fit the Nazi party’s mold were forced to hard labor and/or put to death.  Many were experimented upon medically and simply used as objects. We as Catholics BELIEVE every life is a gift from God.

One of my best friends in grade school through junior college was legally blind. Today Jeff is a professor and a single parent.  I am amazed at his strength and impressed by his great abilities.

Some receive their disabilities later in life.  It may be from an accident, a debilitating disease or simply the process of old age.  Millions of Americans who enjoyed perfect health earlier in their lives discover a bias in respect, treatment and dignity no longer given to them.

When I meet with couples preparing for marriage I always tell them about two images I have about love. One of them is of my Grandpa Kaiser visiting my Grandma Kaiser in the nursing home.  The visits were always the same.  During the five years Grandma was in the nursing home, not rain not sleet or snow would keep Grandpa from the woman he loved. He would always give Grandma a kiss on the check, hold her hand and tell her that he loved her. He would sit with her for a while; then the routine would continue in reverse with a pat on her hand as he left. I share with the couple that love, genuine love, is not blocked by a few pounds, scars, wrinkles or the loss of memory and ability to speak.

In His encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, Blessed John Paul II identified “the Heart of the tragedy being expressed in modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man.” In fact, “when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life.”  Often Pope John Paul II reminded us that every person, no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society everyone is a being of great worth created in the image and likeness of God!

When you see someone with disabilities, treat them as if they are Christ.  Treat them as Jesus taught us.  Treat them with love and respect!!!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Gary

 

Life is a Precious Gift

Dear Parishioners,

Often I have heard it stated that we live in a culture of death. It seems like harsh words. However at the forefront of this, are the debates on war, murder, abortion and euthanasia. In a crass way it seems that things have gone beyond hatred to simply an approach that some lives have value while others do not.  As Catholics we believe that all life is a gift from God. Only our creator is the master of both life and death.  St. John Paul II made the focus on life a central part of his pontificate.  He gave public addresses that became a part of his Theology of the Body.

John Paul gave us great insight in his teachings. His life demonstrated even further what he believed.  During the last months of his life he reminded us that the sick and elderly have much to teach us and certainly his determination to honor God with his life inspired millions both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Early is his Pontificate Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter Square. His actions of reaching out to his assailant, Mehmet Ali Agca, give us a practical understanding the opposition of Churches view on Capital Punishment.  The image of the Pope visiting Mehmet in his jail cell is one that taught all of us how to respect the value of every life, even those who attack us.

Before entering Seminary, I was involved in a Young Adult group called the Frassati Society.  For Respect Life Month we brought in a Religious Sister to speak of the friendship she developed with a Death Row inmate in TX.  She read from his letters that he sent her.  The inmate pleaded that punishment is sitting in the cell and execution an easy way out for both society and the inmate.  The time in jail allows for repentance and conversion of heart.   When I heard this, my view of Capital punishment began to evolve.

You may think it simple but when I look at this issue, I recall the basic teaching my parents taught me as a child. Two wrong actions do not make a good action.  Life is a precious gift not to be taken from someone. Today pray for a conversion of heart, pray for mercy and pray for love of God and Neighbor. Take an opportunity to educate yourself on issues of life and Catholic Church teachings.  Read the Catechism, look to scripture and the interaction of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as she was accused. Learn and live as Christ taught us.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary

 

Respect for Life

Dear Parishioners,

October is Respect for Life Month. When people hear Respect for life, I feel they often think of the abortion issue, but Respect for Life is this and so much more.

This issue is one that is close to my heart.  When I was born, I was a “preemie.”  I was two moths premature.  After my birth, I was placed into an incubator. The technology was rather new in 1970.  In all fairness not everyone understood how things worked and certainly many were not accustomed to caring for such a small baby. One nurse assumed that I was dead and so she shut the oxygen off. When they other staff members found me, I was purple in color.  You see, we should not make assumptions on life.  It is not for us to make that type of decision, who appears to be full of life and who does not.

As Catholics we believe in following the Divine will of God.  The many different areas of this includes Natural Family Planning, accepting children that God has given to both their mothers and fathers, respecting people who have disabilities, opposing the death penalty, respecting refugees and immigrants and allowing people to die without the use of extraordinary means.

The next few weeks, I plan to write articles focusing on some of these issues to educate all of us on the view of the Church.  Bottom line, we believe in Natural Law, the way God designed creation.  In living out our faith we must defend the rights given by God everyone should have the right to live and defend their life, when attacked either verbally or physically.

Life is one issue that is intrinsic, basic and fundamental to our faith. We need to educate ourselves on what the Church teaches. As I review Church teachings, it is enlightening; and I feel stronger in why the Church teaches what She does. I ask all of us to not only to pray but to also educate ourselves and stand up for all forms of life. Life is beautiful and a gift from God that should be honored.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary

 

Catholic Parishes Campaign

Dear Parishioners,

Our CPC goal for 2019 is $178,952.  As noted in the CPC presentation at Masses this weekend, we need an average of at least $385 per family in order to reach our goal.  While some are able to pledge more, we ask everyone to do what they can.  Most importantly, we are asking for all parishioners to return your pledge card whether or not you are making a pledge.  Pledging is easy and payment of pledges may be made over a twelve-month period.  The diocese provides all the material you need to mail in your payments.

Precious Blood benefits in many ways from services we receive from the Diocese. We have a great history of doing our best for CPC.  Do your best and certainly keep our Parish and Diocese in prayer. Let’s pull together and again reach our goal this year.  Please encourage all of our fellow parishioners to “get on board” and help us get this done.  Doing so brings about a sense of achievement and prevents us from adding to our annual operating expense.  The CPC is a parish fund-raiser and every penny raised over our goal stays here at Precious Blood. Each year that I have been here we have been able to raise extra funds for our parish.   This is a great resource for Precious Blood. May God bless us in our generosity and help us grow as faith-filled stewards.

Blessings,

Fr. Gary

 

Gospel Reflection – Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy

English explorers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland in 1767. The border has come to be known as the Mason-Dixon Line.  During the American Civil War a century later, it was the dividing line between the Union and the Confederacy. There is a story of a man whose property was right on top of this invisible line separating the states.  During the war, he feared both sides would view him as a traitor so he decided to wear a Confederate jacket and Union pants. When the fighting got too close to home, he was in big trouble. The Union muskets were fired at his chest, and the Confederacy shot at his knees, a grim reminder that we cannot serve two masters.

Such is the challenge between the pursuit of holiness versus the pursuit of wealth and power. This was the focus of today’s first reading from the Prophet Amos. Sometime around 750 BC, the sheepherder Amos was called to leave one flock in service of another. God sent him north into Israel to convict people for their sins against the Covenant – working on the Sabbath and cheating the poor out of their hard-earned money.

Amos knows that the merchants in the Temple are fixing their scales to cheat the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the feast. These wealthy men became rich and made themselves richer by taking advantage of the less fortunate.  Never will I forget a thing they have done, the prophet says, speaking for God. It is an announcement of God’s judgment on those who are deaf to the cry of the poor. They were in need of forgiveness, but would only receive it if they humbled themselves to ask for it.

In writing to Timothy, Saint Paul affirms God’s desire that we all ask for and receive his mercy, and then share it with one another. Paul thought this important especially for kings and all those in authority, that they might lead a quiet and tranquil life, one without anger or argument.  It is God’s great desire that everyone be saved and … come to knowledge of the truth.

Mercy and forgiveness are in the message of the parable of the steward that Jesus tells in today’s Gospel. The steward is quite creative in dealing with the loss of his job. The steward was not forgiven his debt, but he does forgive the debt of one who owes him a large sum of wheat. Jesus compliments the man for his ability to look beyond earthly wealth to store up for himself treasure in heaven. This appears to be Jesus’ way of getting our minds out of our pocketbook and into his holy book. The Lord desires that we all show such industry in our pursuit of eternal life.

Experience tells us that wealth may leave us or be taken away, but God is a firm anchor. The dollar in our pocket is here today and gone tomorrow, but the Lord is always there for us, and all around us. The late Evangelist Billy Graham said the Lord gave us two hands – one to give, one to receive. We need both. Fold those two hands together and we can pray to God who is the source of every blessing.  What Amos says is true – that God never forgets a thing we have done – so let us at least live a life worthy of remembering, a life full of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

 

Gospel Reflection -Prodigal Son

Today’s Gospel, and particularly the parable of the prodigal son, reminds us of the merciful love that God the Father has for all of us, his children. Jesus depicts so poignantly the love found in the character of the father who runs out to greet his wayward son before he is even home – and who celebrates his son’s safe return with the feast of a fatted calf.

We might wonder how a father can be so quickly and completely forgiving of a son who prematurely took a share of the father’s wealth (to which he was not even entitled, because he was not the older son and heir), abandoned the family, and wasted the hard-earned money on immoral and reckless acts. But Jesus reminds us, as he did the Pharisees and scribes at the beginning of the Gospel, that God the Father himself is merciful, for Jesus was sent to encourage sinners to turn away from their sins and toward God.

These readings challenge us on many levels. If we are like the younger, prodigal son, it might be hard to imagine that God could forgive us for the wrongs we might have done, for the times that we turned away from God. But in the second reading, Paul reminds Timothy that God not only forgave him for his persecution of the Church, he called Paul to great glory as an Apostle. Paul describes himself as the foremost of sinners, who was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. Through his mercy for this most zealous persecutor of the early Christians, Jesus gave Paul the grace to become one of his greatest advocates and one of the shining stars of the Church. If any of us feel that we have committed some wrong that can’t be forgiven – or have strayed so long that we can’t be welcomed back – we can take courage and comfort from these readings.

But, just as the readings encourage us to accept the mercy of God, they also challenge us to extend God’s mercy to others. For we also know that the measure we give to others is what we shall receive. We are forgiven, as we forgive. And we have this good news to share with anyone who needs to hear it: come home! So let us then accept God’s mercy, extend it to others and rejoice, as the Father commands us, when those who are lost return home.