The Roman Catholic Church of Southern Missouri


November 23, 2021

Lighthouse, giving thanks for all things

'The Lord be with you' the celebrant says, and the people respond: 'And with your spirit'. 'Lift up your hearts.' he says, and they respond 'we lift them up to the Lord.' Then he says 'Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.' and they say: 'It is right to give Him thanks and praise.' Then the celebrant proclaims a prayer which begins with: 'It is truly right and just to give Him thanks.' That is the opening dialogue we have as we begin the most important part of our worship service which we call 'the mass'. That same dialogue has been used consistently ever since the second century. I say that not as an instruction on the Catholic service as much as to emphasize the importance of giving thanks to God. The entire mass is called a 'Eucharist' which means 'thanks' from that part of the Last Supper where Jesus took the cup called 'the cup of thanksgiving'. This week we celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation. It is right and just that we do so as a nation and as individuals. Our lives ought to be filled with thanksgiving from the moment we get up until the day is over. We have no natural right to anything we have and so recognize everything as a gift from Him. St. Paul says to give thanks to God for all things. He was thankful for the many sufferings he endured as an opportunity to share 'in the completion of the sufferings of Christ.' And if one wants to have a joy-filled life that is so necessary. All one has to do is to look at the joy of those in third world countries when they receive even a little; and the joy they have in sharing that little with others. Now, the real trick is, St. Paul says, is to give thanks for all things. Did he mean those things we don't particularly like as well. Yes he did. If we as a believing people believe that God really wants the best for us. If we believe He would not let anything happen to us without somehow intending it for our good then we must give thanks. Does not Jesus say 'If you know how to give your children what is good, how much more so does your heavenly father.' I remember in grade school we were taught to say thanks even when the teacher punished us in a corporal way. The punishment was not to give them some sort of satisfaction but to help form us and get a message through our thick skulls. As you look around your table this week, around your home, around your neighborhood, around your country, how big a list do you have to give thanks for? Now. Are you ready to include that fender-bender? That bout with the flu? That unkind thing someone said about you? Yes, we should give thanks for our many blessings, counting them one by one. But don't forget the things you didn't like.

November 9, 2021 Lighthouse

Last week we heard a couple scriptures which sound so sweet, and yet so disconcerting. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we hear the great schema proclamation that every Jew says when leaving the house. And then in Mark 12:28 we hear Jesus himself reaffirming such and then adding 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Here it is: 'The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' that sounds so sweet doesn't it. Of course we love the Lord. But, as so often happens, we don't read or mean the rest of the statement. It says 'with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.' I have to ask, what does that look like if you put flesh on it? Maybe that is why God gave us marriage. St. Paul says 'Husbands, love your wives as God loves his church.' So, okay. In marriage we can understand that through the marriage nuptials two people totally give themselves to one another and become one. There is nothing left out. What does that look like when we apply it to our love of God? Do I/we find ourselves saying: 'Yes, Lord, I love you with everything but I'm not quite willing to put my tithe, my 10% into the treasury as you ask and then still look after the needs of others.' Do I find myself saying: 'Yes Lord, I love you with everything. But, I'm not quite willing to keep holy the Sabbath if that means taking time to worship as you say: 'Do not forsake the gathering of the assembly.' and perhaps visit you in your word and let you talk to me. Do I find myself saying: 'I can't always help myself using your name in an explicative even though you say not to take your name in vain. Everyone does it; and it doesn't really mean anything. Do I find myself saying: 'Yes Lord, I love you with all that I am, but, isn't it enough to get with you on Sunday morning. Do I really have to participate with all my heart and do I have to go more often than that? I wonder, do you really think He believes we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? What would it take to make that more believable in your life? And, that's not even looking at what it might mean to love our neighbor as ourself. Do we?

Lighthouse November 2, 2021

God created the earth, the sun, moon, plants, animals and, even humans and He said 'it was good.' Do you believe everything God did and made was good? I hope so, for so it was. What happened? God said to Adam: 'the tree of good and evil you shall not eat.' God gave the power of free will which will never be taken away. It is a power to do good or evil; to build or tear down. We can take that which is naturally good and use it for bad or evil. Can we not therefore also take that which someone has used for evil and make it good? It reminds me of being at a pastors meeting years ago when they were discussing the casino coming to town. They were questioning if they could accept money won at a casino. Or could you accept money from a robbery if it occurred years ago and the robber had no way of refunding it? One minister responded: 'it seems Satan has had the money long enough, it was time for God's people to see what they could do with it.' This past Sunday many were focused on Halloween which is getting to be one of the most expensive celebrations of the year. They do so without even realizing what it is that they should be celebrating, just like many of our secular holidays. Was that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it is one more occasion where the secular world has capitalized on what belongs to Christians. Christmas and Easter being other examples. Just think about it. At the time of Christ, only the Jews worshiped the One God. When Christians spread out into the pagan world they began trying to make everything point to Christ. Just as St. Paul when he went into the Areopagus saw the shrine to an unknown god he pointed out that unconsciously made it for the only God. So it was in 610 when the church looked at the Pantheon, a beautifully constructed round building dedicated to the many gods and decided to rededicate it to all saints. Then the secular world, recognizing that Christians were focusing on the departed, capitalized on the scariness of the aspect of death, and bingo, what was a hallowed evening became a harrowing evening. Have Christians lost the fight? No. But it is a great witness as to how we need to be conscious of this tug of war between the sacred and the profane so as not to totally lose Christmas and Easter but to continue to claim all things for Christ. We are His, our lives, our bodies, our possessions, our celebrations. All ought to be dedicated to His glory. Isn't that what it means when we say we love Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul? What Christian feast do you like most? Christmas, Three Kings, Guadalupe, Easter, St. Patrick's, St. Valentine, Pentecost, Good Friday, Thanksgiving?  

Lighthouse October 19, 2021

How would you feel if all your life you had been taught that the sign of being blessed by God was to be wealthy and then discover from God it's not about what you have but about what you give away? That was the gospel we reflected on this past Sunday. In Mark 10:17ff we hear of Jesus encountering a rich young man who has kept all the commandments and when he asked Jesus what more he must do Jesus said 'sell all you have, give to the poor, follow me.' he went away sad. I think we can all understand that. I mean, in our society today, -and we are all certainly rich by world standards,- we don't feel like we are a success unless you not only have two chickens in every pot, two cars in every garage, a extended cab dually, a camper, a boat, regular facials and pedicures and then look down on those who live in the slums and drive an old Cadillac for their status symbol. I mean, wealth as a symbol of God's blessings was a problem in the book of Job when his friends counsel him and he finally responds that we bring nothing into this world and will take nothing from it. How true that is. How far we have to go before we learn that lesson. Jesus makes it point blank 'give to the poor'. As an industrialized society we seem to have ensconced ourselves in the meaning of wealth. There are some Indian tribes which speak of a man's worth as being based on his ability to give. I believe it's Hindu theology which establishes the epitome of being a fulfilled human being when in one's later years one can abandon all they have and go begging. It's a lesson I learned when visiting a Vietnamese friend a few years ago and before we left them they took some very nice things off their walls and gave them to me and my brothers. In Mark's Gospel Jesus simply challenges us in a very direct way to make sure our priorities are in order. What are those priorities? It's salvation, people, nature, things, in that order. Jesus told the rich man 'give to the poor and come follow me.' nothing but nothing should endanger one's salvation. There is simply nothing worth trading eternal life for. In a way, while some may look down on monks, or Christians who live an austere life, they are the ones who probably have it easier. They make a decision of not having wealth and find a freedom to live life. Those who have wealth have a tremendous obligation to realize they are stewards of what belongs to God and so must be ready to give an accounting of how they use it. So, one cannot trade their salvation for people, nature or things. Then next in order is people. Jesus says give to the poor. When we put nature or things above the dispossessed, the innocent, the unborn we fail to be the human being God created us to be. And, my friends, that applies to how we vote as well. Are we voting for politicians who will keep us wealthy, who will put things above the very life of people? And, on down the line is nature, which, of course, we must take care of for it to take care of us. And last in priorities is wealth or things which are given only to take care of the first three priorities. Today I challenge you. Are your priorities in order? What do you need to do to change? Jesus guarantees that when we keep these priorities straight we will have a good life: 'Peter you will have 100 times brothers, this life and next.'

Lighthouse October 12, 2021

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of the Lord.” Ps. 19:1, and then there is Psalm 148 which I pray weekly, calling for all creatures: angels, sun and moon, stars, sea creatures, creeping things and flying birds, kings and all peoples to give praise to the Lord. He created all things, including us, so how can we not praise Him. This becomes more and more real it seems this time of year. Last week I shared my joy in witnessing marriage, how a couple's love is to praise God by truly becoming one and sharing in His creation of other human beings. This week we celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi who people of all faiths seem to have an affinity for because of his rootedness in seeing all creatures, especially humans, as being related to himself. Some see him as the most perfect example of Jesus himself in his absolute affection for all. Then too, for the past couple weeks I have been getting excited again and again witnessing the change of colors in the scenery. I seem to want to look for an excuse to travel. As I went into the Bootheel for the wedding I found it so exciting to see the fields of cotton which will help cloth people; then the rice, beans, corn being harvested for food and other products; then to see all the nut bearing trees, the pecans, walnuts, acorns all coming on with an abundant crop. And if that wasn't enough, my cousin Billy Bader, owner of Bader's Orchard, made it a point to go to the orchards and pick some late peaches for me. All creatures, animals, sun, and moon give praise to God by just being, doing what they were created to do. Humans on the other hand were given free choice. Much of our praise of God may certainly be spontaneous but by our free will we are called to praise Him in choosing to do all that we know is right. We think of the 10 commandments and how our lives conform to them and then we think of the Beatitudes, the various states of blessedness Jesus pointed out. We think of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the description of love in the words of St. Paul when he says 'love is kind, love is patient, love does not put on airs' and so on. We question ourselves about whether we are giving God right-worship. Are we taking time away from the world just to give our attention to Him? After all, Paul says to 'not forsake the gathering of the assembly'. We give praise to God by coming together as His children. So, yes, while there is a natural inclination this time of year to give praise with all of creation we have to be careful that we do not ignore His call for us to come aside from the world to focus on Him as a community. I pray you find praise in your heart at all times but especially when gathered together.  

Lighthouse Sept. 21, 2021

Mt. 7:21 'Not every one who says 'lord, lord will be saved'. Mt. 25:35 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me to drink, naked and you clothed me...what you did to the least of these you did to me.' how these scriptures prey on my mind and heart. Is there any doubt that Jesus calls us to use the gifts he has given us, gifts of time, treasure, and talent, for building up the kingdom on earth; for recognizing the inherent dignity of every human being and asking ourselves how we can make a place at the table for them? I'm so proud of our community and the many ways our people try to work together and make these things happen. As treasure for the Clearwater Ministerial Alliance I have the privilege of receiving the regular checks from different churches, businesses and individuals to help with the food pantry. With the Outreach being right here by my house I get to see first hand the tremendous amount of items brought in for recycling making it possible to help so many with clothing, gas, utilities as well as helping other charitable organizations. I get to see all those who volunteer helping with food distribution on third Tuesdays and third Thursdays. The Boy Scouts and Post Office will again be collecting food as do different classes at school. If you would like those words of Jesus above to be addressed to you I invite you to help with the food distribution or volunteer even an hour or two a week at the Outreach and feel good about the difference you can make. Of course there are a number of other really good organizations like the Nutrition Centers in Van Buren, Ellington, and Williamsville who can really use help in delivering meals to those in need. I think the Lord gives us plenty of opportunities so we can freely choose how to use our gifts of time, talent and treasure. At the same time I think we will all have a hard time coming before Him and saying: “I didn't know.” Don't you? Think about it. Pray about it. What gifts has God given you to share? Will you?

Lighthouse Sept. 7, 2021

9/11 how that date is etched in our minds. Certain things you will never forget; where you were, what was happening, etc. when such monumental things occur. I was in the car heading for a meeting in Springfield listening to a radio station. Something I rarely do. For days we kept listening to the reactions of so many different people, especially those who lost loved ones in the buildings or in the rescue efforts. A major response we kept hearing was 'I will never forget. I will never forgive.' Those are powerful words. What traumatic events have happened in your life where you have said the same thing? If you live long enough there will be something. How are we supposed to deal with it? Every day Christians pray again and again: 'forgive me as I forgive those who trespass against me.' Of course, we tell ourselves: 'I have never done anything that serious.' We forget that the magnitude of an offense is based on the magnitude of the person being offended. Do we ever stop and think of how serious any sin is against almighty God. Yet, how does He forgive? 'Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing.' When Jesus died on the cross He made forgiveness available for everyone no matter who, no matter what. All we have to do is ask for it. The only sin Jesus said was unforgivable was 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.' And, what is that except a declaration on our part that we have no sin. We prevent the Holy Spirit from doing His job in us. 'He who says he is without sin is a liar.' so, 'forgive me as I forgive others.' even that? Yes, even that. Even if your spouse has cheated on you, even if one of the children denies you or destroys your heritage. We recall the story of the prodigal father who anxiously awaited his erring son's return. Now, why does Jesus demand that kind of forgiveness? Because He wants us to have a fullness of life. One cannot have a fullness of life if they are carrying unforgiveness in their heart. It will eat them up. Does that mean then we are to forget? Like 'forgive and forget.' Not at all. That would be pretty, let me use the expression, dumb. That's the danger of the woke culture. If we forget our history, personal or national, we are destined to experience something worse. No, in forgiving, justice demands that we seek to reestablish trust through a process of accountability. The Indians have a right to question treaties made with our government. Our government has a right to be a little skeptical of some nations. Yet, we must reach out to our one-time enemies like Japan or Germany or Italy and our current enemies who seek to do us harm and find ways to co-exist. On the personal level we also have to expect to take steps which lead to greater trust. We can't expect that to happen without effort. All things are forgivable and trust can be achieved. So, if you want peace, work for mercy.


Lighthouse August 31, 2021

What do you think of Labor? No, not that of having a baby; that's real labor. But the labor that allows one to use, grow, stretch their muscles, their mind, their abilities to make a difference. I know there may be many different thoughts about what it means to celebrate Labor Day but to tell you the truth I'm a little concerned where we are really going as a country. Maybe we've always celebrated seeing how much we can get with the least amount of sweat equity but it seems to be going to an extreme when it is more profitable to not work than to work. In the past I've known a number of women who found that by the time they paid for child care, for transportation, meals out they were much better off staying home and drawing some child support. Personally I think that we as a society should try to make it worthwhile for a parent to stay home and care for their own children. What I've been more concerned about is all the stimulus money which made it more enticing to stay on unemployment long after there was a need for them to be back at work. We seem to have developed a detest for the very notion of work. When we look at God's Word I think we find a very positive support for work. In the beginning God set Adam in charge of all things to share in His power of creation. He said 'that he and his progeny were to 'subdue the earth.'

You notice Genesis describes God as creating and then on the seventh day He rested. That seventh day rest is unique to the Judaeo heritage. Man, like God, was to also take time off from work to 'see that it is good'; To reflect on what he and God had done. When crossing the desert God had the head of the house to go and gather enough manna for the family. While they are in the desert God says that he gave different ones different talents to support the work of worship. We still use the word 'liturgy' today, a word which means 'public work'. The work of worship was a great thing. Then when we come to the New Testament we hear Paul say 'let him who does not work, not eat' as not only a way to stay busy and not meddle in other people's lives but also to realize everyone has something to offer. So, when we celebrate Labor Day today we are each called to first of all give thanks to God for the gifts and talents He has given us to care for self, family and also the good of all. We are also to realize that these very gifts and talents were something to be grateful for. Then, as we look beyond that, we hopefully realize that if everyone is using their gifts, everyone should have a right to share in the total of what they have made possible. One company I admired for that particular value was Ben & Jerry's, not just for the quality of their ice cream, but their work statute maintained that if the CEO was to get an increase in income then the lowest person in the company should receive a proportional share. In other words, if a person is caring for the maintenance of the company and that is what their skills allow then they should receive a living wage even if others who have greater demands do receive more. How we share in the product of a company is always going to be negotiable but it should never make one feel less for doing what they can do. All the different talents are needed. This Labor Day, take time to thank God for the gifts and talents He has given you and pray for the grace to use them well, for the good of all.   

Lighthouse August 24, 2021  
Habits: last week we looked at how to form good habits, how one keeps building on a desired action until it becomes automatic. But, what about habits we have already formed that may not be so good and we want to change. Sometimes these might just be annoying behaviors or they might be addictions. Sometimes we might discover that a habit we have which was cultural, acceptable in one setting no longer is seen as appropriate. I immediately think of the habit some have of having to spit when in public or the habit of physically closing one nostril while
expelling out the other. Or, as one guy in Africa said: “why do you eat with your right hand, we eat with the left hand, the right hand is used for something else.’ Use your imagination. These kinds of habits we normally break by simply wanting to belong and choosing to behave as
those around us. Granted, some of these may be morally bad such as showing someone how much you appreciate them by showing your middle finger. These can be broken by will. Other habits may have become addictions. They have imprinted themselves as some sort of pleasure stimuli. Such might be coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, even food, all of which might be seen as a good but are no longer controlled. Then there are such things as drugs, porn, illecit sex which will always be destructive. Sometimes good people will think they can eliminate these in their life by just willing it, by suppressing it. Some may succeed by going ‘cold turkey’. If so it might be that they recognize God is working in their life and they have had a conversion experience. Most generally though as the AA program points out it can not and will not be overcome
without turning to God and confessing that one cannot do it on one’s own. They need God, and often other’s for accountability. A great secret of AA in overcoming any of these addictions is recognizing that it’s only ‘one day at a time sweet Jesus’. One day at a time. Sometimes it’s
only one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time. Habits, even addictive ones can be changed. Sometimes I’m convinced God allows one to continue in their addiction until they are humble enough to really know they didn’t overcome it on their own. Otherwise they might be
prone to pride and look  down on others who still experience the addiction. In humility God will change everything. When Paul asked God that a thorn be taken from his side, we don’t know what it was, God said ‘my grace is sufficient for you.’ And, always remember, when
Jesus drove the demon out he cautioned him to fill that space with something good lest many demons return. Just an example: at one time I smoked more than two packs a day and quit a hundred times. Only when I said I could leave them alone as a fast for one person and then do
so again the next day for someone else and so on did I reach a point where I could say I had no desire for them. I still would not say 'I quit' even though it’s been over forty years. St. Paul says ‘never say never.’ Never say “I’ll never be like so and so.’ That may be a dangerous sign
you will fail, and fall to something worse. Hopefully this helps someone.

Lighthouse August 17, 2021

WHAT KIND OF HABITS DOYOU HAVE? Oh, I don't have any habits. So you think. Everyone has habits. Even before we are born we have habits. Some are automatic, such as the rhythm of the heart, or breathing after we're born. Maybe even the sucking of the thumb. Then when we come into the world we begin developing habits to respond to our environment and get what we want. Later parents and others will help us develop habits of conduct at the table; eventually the tying of shoes and getting dressed. As some habits develop we find we can perform more and more complex activities without even thinking. Just think of the recent Olympics where athletes do the seemingly impossible because they've spent years staying focused on the goal and making constant new adjustments as they progress. Then there are habits which make us more lovable, delightful, or uncouth, unfriendly, obnoxious, narcissistic. Each day we discover that we have choices to make. Choices which will make us better person or one not so good. Granted that many of the habits, or skills allow us to do more and more things well with less and less concentration, like driving a car. Many of these habits, while good and desirable may have no moral consequences. But as we grow to be a moral person, one who has accepted a standard of living by some moral code, we seek to become all that we can, the best version of ourselves. If one is of the Judaeo-Christian persuasion one certainly embraces the ten commandments. As one does so they discover that there is a struggle between the flesh, way of the world, and the spirit, the ways of God. Just as one who pursues the Olympics may at times, many times, feel their body saying I can't do any more and their mind saying I don't have to, they realize they have to push beyond those thresholds. As a Christian one may discover much the same thing. They may find themselves saying 'I'm going to take that because it isn't that much and really isn't hurting anyone.' Such reasoning shows that there is still a struggle going on within and one has not yet made being honest a real habit. Some commandments we may find very easy, we don't even think about it; such as the possibility of killing someone. But to the extent we do think about it, do entertain possibilities, such as towards adultery in its many manifestations, we've not yet made chaste thought a real habit. Our Lord said that anyone who looks at another with lust has already committed adultery. Anyone who covets what another has already transgressed against stealing. These little struggles are a reminder that we are not yet where we want to be. In order to get to a point where none of the commandments create any anxiety within we find that we need to do so by choosing to create habits towards those actions Jesus calls us to. He says they are blessed who work for peace and justice; blessed are those who mourn seeing the needs of others; blessed are those who give without counting the cost; tithe without neglecting the weightier demands of meeting the neighbor's need. This only happens by consistently, choosing to do good even in little things. As a Boy Scout I really appreciated their motto of doing a good deed each day. Those good deeds help a person truly become the best version of what they are called to be. What's one little habit you can begin right now to direct your life in a better direction? How about just 5 more minutes of prayer or 5 more minutes with the scriptures at a certain time.   

Lighthouse August 10, 2021

SAYING GOODBYES This past week has been an interesting one in a particular way as the discussion of death and burial came up several times. Maybe it's because of my being the oldest in the conversations, but in any case there were different takes on how each was going to handle final preparations. Then I attended a parish home-coming where the last three of my father's siblings made it a point to come this year. One was from Virginia, one from Oklahoma, one from St. Louis. When I had a chance for a private conversation with each of them, each made the comment 'this will be the last time I will be coming to this.' One of those was 89, another 87 but the other only 78. I know they weren't thinking of dying too soon, but you never know. The one thing for sure is the deterioration of the body reminds us that we are mortals and there will be a limit to all we can do. So, in any case I was also aware that this gathering might be my last goodbye. The good news though, for you and I as Christians, is that we do look forward to meeting again when there will be no more death or sorrow. I was reminded of that in a special way this past week when we celebrated what we call the Feast of the Transfiguration. That's the day Jesus 'took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus.” Mk. 9:2 They were conversing with him. They did not yet have their resurrected body as Jesus gave a view of His body, but they were alive. It reminds us of another passage when Jesus said “Abraham has longed to see my day and he has seen it.” or as Jesus said, “God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Once Jesus rose from the dead and overcame death itself we as Christians no longer had any doubt that the day would come when we would have resurrected bodies and live forever. Our life in the world is so very transitory. It cannot be measured, even in seconds, in any comparison to what eternal life will be like. And yet, how many live their lives as if this world is all there is. Or, if they believe there is an afterlife they continue to live as if it doesn't matter how they live this life. If this life is just a blip wouldn't you think they might consider it worthwhile to live as the Lord calls them to right now? The scriptures leave no doubt that we will be determining where to spend eternity by our faith and our actions. Let us live as the Lord calls us to so that our goodbyes are never our 'last goodbye'.  

Lighthouse July 25, 2021

Today I thought I would just share with you something you might find interesting and know little about. This past Sunday we had a celebration for Sr. Rose Mock celebrating 60 years as a consecrated sister and Sr. Carol Prenger celebrating 50 years. While some denominations use the term 'sister' as referring to any of the women in the congregation, Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians recognize women who have made vows to God that they will live poverty, celibacy, obedience for the rest of their lives. As such they own nothing as all belongs to the community they joined and they profess obedience to the superior of the house. Some want to know the difference between sisters and nuns. A nun is a sister who lives in a cloister (basically isolated from the world) to pray constantly as we spoke of last week. A sister is more involved in a ministry in the world such as teaching, or hospital work. Then a sister or nun may also be committed to living in a community or alone. This is to live in accord with Jesus' teaching in Mt. 19:12 'for there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.' in doing so they live out their lives as St. Paul who said he wished everyone could live as he does even though he recognized that there was no sin in marrying. Until Jesus the most important thing a man could want was to have children. In choosing to remain celibate a sister is making a profound declaration of faith in Jesus that there is something more, there is eternal life where there will be no more marriage; there will be no more male or female. This week I can't help but look back with joy when I invited these two to serve this area in 1983. Since then we have experienced 130 years of service by their order, School Sisters of Notre Dame. After Sr. Carol and Sr. Rose came to especially help in the church Sr. Rita came and established Whole Health Outreach and Casa, a shelter for abused women in Ellington and Sr. Anne began the Whole Kids Outreach in the area. Besides these we also received 20 years of ministry from the order of Ursulines and a couple from the Franciscans. The world, our country, our area owes a lot to the service and witness of these consecrated women through the ages. President Abraham Lincoln described the sisters in the Civil War as 'Veritable angels of mercy...of all the forms of charity and benevolence seen in the crowded wards those of the Catholic sisters were among the most efficient.'

June 29, 2021

Independence Day, July 4 How many will think of it as only one more national holiday? At least it is a holiday which is celebrated on a particular day and not just on a convenient Monday so we can have three day weekends. Some might remember their history, if it hasn't already been woked, and think of 'no taxation without representation' and the Boston Tea Party. But we know it was about much more than just taxation. Many had fled to this country because the religion they freely embraced was not so tolerated in England. As such they wanted a land where one could live by their conscience. That was certainly a driving force when our early fathers began crafting the possibility of starting a new, independent country. They wanted a system which would truly protect the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (free conscience). They saw these as inalienable rights, rights given by God and not created by man to be altered at the whim of man. Consequently we know they created a democratic republic, not just a democracy where a vast number in one area could inflict their will upon everyone else but to be as equitably as possible to protect these essential rights. Many throughout history have paid a great price in trying to be faithful to their conscience. This past week, ending with today, Catholics celebrated an international week of prayer for the protection of these rights. During this week we celebrated the feast of Thomas More on June 22. As you know, he was chancellor of England when Henry VIII decided he could take control of the church and decide what others had to believe. More could not support his divorcing the queen. The king not only wanted to do evil but wanted to force everyone else to support it. This cost More his life. We celebrated the birth of John the Baptist which comes six months before the birth of Jesus. He too was killed because he could not approve of King Herod taking his own brother's wife. Then today we celebrate Sts Peter and Paul, both of whom were not able to comply with the state. It seems, doesn't it, that the actions of political powers will always have a moral dimension which needs to be addressed while the moral life of its adherents need not necessarily have a political repercussion, unless those in politics want to control the moral life of others. In that case it may often be a matter, as in the examples above, where the state wants to make demands on the moral life of others. Scripture reminds us that there would be a time when some will say what is evil is good and conversely what is good is evil. That is the struggle people of faith always have to contend with. Such a struggle is being well played out in our own day when we have politicians saying they defy the church to deny them they sign that they are in communion with the church while at the same time they proclaim a list of many objections they have to what the church sees as divine revelation. Again and again we find that there are those who not only want the freedom to do what they want but the ability to demand everyone else approve of what they want. Is that the call for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness which our founding fathers envisioned? Happy Independence Day  

June 15, 2021

Mt. 19:19 Honor your father and your mother

Mt. 19:29 'and every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother...for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and eternal life.

1Cor. 4:15 'you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.'

Ep. 6:4 'fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.'

As we look to Father's Day this Sunday I know there will be many different feelings and memories that come to mind. We live in an age where less than half our children have a father living with them and really being the father figure they need. For many, their experience of father greatly determines the kind of relationship they have with God our Father. While there are many scripture passages which refer to a human father I chose the above hoping we can glean something we can apply to ourselves and enhance the role of father in our society. The first one is most fundamental in that it is the only commandment which carries with it a promise, 'that you may have a long life.' We are called to honor our father all their life. As children we are called to obedience knowing that we are totally dependent on parents. As such they have tremendous responsibility over our lives. Not only in providing for our physical needs but also our development as educated spiritual human beings. When Jesus said call no man 'father' he was saying that no one can replace 'our Father who are in heaven'. Our earthly father shares that honor to the degree he turns to the heavenly Father. So, yes, fathers do have a responsibility over our religious worship, our education, who we hang out with, in person, or on line. Fathers do need to be concerned about this responsibility first before succumbing to any notion that they are friends. When Jesus says that we are to leave 'father...for my name's sake' he is reminding us not only of the natural progression of things, 'leaving father to cleave to his wife.' but of how that progression must be for the sake of the kingdom. When one is ready to establish his own family unit he should be well prepared to lead and guide the next generation. Of course, here, he is also referring to those, who like Paul, have given up everything to shepherd others to Christ or to those who like St. Joseph are so willing to raise other people's children. Joseph raised Jesus. We need to also honor foster fathers and step fathers who have taken on this awesome task. And, if you are single, but like Paul have brought others to Christ then you, like him, can boast 'do I not have a right to be called your father, for it was I who begot you in Christ?' Being a father is not just to share in the giving of physical life but to share in the nurturing of the total life of another person. So, happy father's day to all you who are honorable in sharing their life for the fullness of life for others.