The Holy Spirit Gives Us Strength

This year, the Church celebrates the great feast of Pentecost on May 31.

As recounted in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Pentecost occurred when the followers of Jesus were, filled with fear, clustered together in a room and were suddenly surprised by the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Strong wind and flame seemed to sweep the room, and the Apostles were so filled with the gifts of the Spirit that they emerged with new confidence, energy and a newly discovered strength. They experienced a new life in the Holy Spirit. In our secular culture,

Pentecost goes largely unobserved. “Pentecost” cards don’t pop up on store shelves weeks in advance, and there’s no merchandising that remotely compares to Easter and Christmas. Yet make no mistake. To Christians, Pentecost is a great celebration, sometimes called the birthday of the Church.

The word Pentecost has its roots in the Greek word for “fifty;” Pentecost comes fifty days after the Resurrection on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Why was Pentecost such a watershed event in the life of the Church?

As Christian stewards, we know we are called to live a life using the “fruits of the Spirit.” This calling has its roots in the momentous events of Pentecost. Up until that time, the followers of Jesus were still a somewhat disorganized band of believers, still in shock over the events of the crucifixion, still confused about the meaning of the sightings of the Risen Lord.  Pentecost abruptly and forever changed that. Suddenly, missionary disciples were born, followers both called and sent forth. Like us, they were called together, in community. They became aware that their great mission was to reach, not just their Jewish brothers and sisters in Palestine, but the disparate crowds who visited Jerusalem and beyond. Like us, they were called to bring Jesus to the world. The Holy Spirit brought courage to replace fear, understanding to replace confusion, faith to replace doubt.

The same Holy Spirit moves in our own lives, perhaps not always with the drama of that first Pentecost, but with the same spiritual energy. The Spirit calls us within our Church community to share Jesus with others, just as the disciples were called. Our task is to embrace the strength and energy of the life of the Holy Spirit moving through us. Let’s celebrate Pentecost this year as heirs to this great moment in the life of our Church, as stewards inspired to be people of hope for others in this world desperate for God’s presence.

Public Masses to Resume

Dear St. Mary’s parishioners,

The time has finally come and I’m happy to share the news that after careful planning we are ready to begin public Masses in our Diocese, Bishop McElroy made the announcement on Friday. We will need time to appropriately prepare so our first weekday Mass will be held on Wednesday, June 10 and June 14 for weekend Masses.

Even though this is good news  we must continue to be cautious and not forget that we are still  in the midst of this pandemic and we must continue to take our precautions and follow the States safety guidelines and comply with all restrictions. The recommendations of hygiene and social distancing are the most important ways to minimize the spread of this virus.  For this reason coming to Mass will be very different since the last time we all gathered back in March and we must continue to follow the procedures that we’ve all become accustomed to in this new reality.

One of the directives given to us by the State is to limit our Church capacity to 100 people in order to properly offer space for Social Distancing.  These spaces will be open on a first come basis and we will revise our mass schedule as we see needed.

Face covering will be required inside the church and sanitizing stations will be available at the entrance of the church.  Our Reopening plan has been approved by the Diocese.   I ask that we all think of not only our own safety but of our entire community and be thankful to God for the gift of Celebrating the Eucharist as a community.  Any adjustments or sacrifices that have to be made will all be worth it for the Glory of God.

Sincerely Fr. G.
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Queridos parroquianos,

El tiempo a llegado y despues de planacion cautelosa estamos listos para resumir la celebracion de la misa publica en nuestra Diocesis.  El Obispo hizo el anuncio el viernes.  Necesitamos prepararnos  apropiadamente y por esta razon nuestra primera misa sera el Miercoles 10 de Junio y el 14 de Junio en domingo.  Aunque estas son buenas noticias tenemos que continuar ser cautelosos y no olvidarnos que aun estamos pasando por esta pandemia y tenemos que seguir muy seriamente los lineamientos que se nos han dado.
Las recomendaciones de higiene y distancia social son las maneras mas importantes de prevenir el contagio del virus.  Por esta razon el venir a Misa sera una experiencia distinta.
Una de las directivas que el Estado ha puesto es que el limite de capacidad de asistencia sera 100 personas.  Estos espacios seran ofrecido al primero que llegue.

Las mascaras seran un requisito dentro de la Iglesia y tendremos estaciones de desinfectante disponibles.  Como les comparti la semana pasada hemos entregado nuestro plan de Reapertura al Obispo y estamos esperando su aprobacion.  Al ser aprobado el plan  les compartire los detalles.
Se que algunos de estos requisitos no sean de agrado para algunos pero les pido que pensemos en la seguridad de toda la comunidad y demos gracias a Dios por el regalo de poder celebrar la Eucaristia juntos nuevamente.

Padre G

Reflecting the Beatitudes of Jesus

In his famous song, James Taylor sings that when you are “down and troubled and you need some loving care, ” you just have to “call out his name” and he will be there, “yes, you have a friend.” These words could just as well have been written by Jesus as Carole King.

In many ways, his beatitudes have become my friend since I authored the book, Blessings for Leaders. It has taken me all over the country speaking and listening to other’s insights about these beatitudes. The beatitudes teach us from a deep font of the wisdom of Jesus.

If we become poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry, merciful, pure of heart, peacemaking and persecuted for the sake of righteousness, we discover glimpses of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:1-12). There is abundant paradox in these eight proverbs. To be poor in spirit, for example, is exactly the opposite of what it sounds like. I grew up thinking that these were the poor folks who were not good at praying the rosary or who had a hard time concentrating at Mass. While that resonated with me, it was not what Jesus was teaching here.

Poverty of spirit is the starting point for these beatitudes just as they are for leadership, life and stewardship ministry. To be poor in spirit means to place your total trust and confidence in God, to be so desperate for God’s presence in your life that you realize you are naught without it. Remember that it was the rich in spirit, the scribes and Pharisees, those who had it all figured out, with whom Jesus was most despondent.

The wisdom flows from this first beatitude to each that follows along a path that reminds me of the road to Emmaus. Jesus accompanies us as we explore the wonders of being comforted because we mourn our losses and the misfortune of others. We inherit the earth when we become down-to-earth humble in our interactions with each other. We are satisfied when we hunger for righteousness. We begin to wonder: Who thinks this way? Praying the Our Father is praying by the beatitudes, most profoundly evident in finding mercy by being merciful. Jesus connects the heart to the eyes when he teaches us to become pure of heart so we can see God all around us. Running toward conflict to become a peacemaker endows us as children of God. And finally, we sprint all the way to the Kingdom of Heaven when others become critical of our beatitude ways and persecute us for living, loving and leading by these very beatitudes.

At the end of these eight proverbs, we not only discover we are just beginning the journey into three chapters of Matthew citing Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, we also find ourselves glowing in the Kingdom of God. Indeed, when we are down and troubled, and we need a helping hand, we can find Jesus in these beatitudes, and he is very much our friend.

By Dr. Dan R. Ebener, professor, School of Organizational Leadership, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa

Jeanne de Lestonnac – Stewarding the sick and poor during plague years

Jeanne de Lestonnac was born in 1556 into an influential family in Bordeaux, France. Her father was a member of the French Parliament, and a prominent Catholic. Her mother, who was the sister of the renowned humanist philosopher Michel de Montaigne, had embraced the teachings of John Calvin.

Jeanne remained a devout Catholic, and the richness of the renaissance culture in which she grew up would have a great influence on her education. Jeanne married at age 17 and gave birth to eight children, three of whom died in infancy. She would experience deep pain and sorrow because of the deaths of her husband, the three children and her father.  Eventually on her own, she ensured that her children would receive the best education she could afford as well as a devout upbringing in the Catholic faith.

At age 46, widowed and with children grown, Jeanne sensed a call from the Lord to do something extraordinary. She first turned to contemplative life and entered the Cistercian monastery in Toulouse. Illness forced her to leave the monastery, but she was led into a period of deep discernment. She prayed continuously that the Holy Spirit direct her and she searched for models of great Catholic women to be her guides and cultivated an interest in the lives of Saints Scholastica, Clare, Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila.

In 1605, a deadly plague spread throughout Bordeaux. Placing her own health at risk, she visited and cared for people in the poorest parts of the city. It was through her stewardship of the sick and the poor that she discovered the presence of Jesus in them. She also envisioned a religious institute to provide formal education for women. She encountered many young people who wanted to make a commitment to her endeavor.

In 1607, Jeanne established a community of consecrated women, The Company of Mary, whose primary ministry would be education. She worked very hard in this new ministry, and by the time of her death at age 84, the community had established 30 schools throughout France. Today the mission of The Company of Mary continues, with over 400 educational institutions in 26 countries, ranging from nurseries to universities.

St. Jeanne de Lestonnac’s feast day is May 15.

Attendants in a “Field Hospital”

I believe one of the most enlightening comments Pope Francis has made thus far in his papacy is that the Church is a “field hospital” in the world. He believes our community of faith is called to “heal wounds” and to “warm the hearts of the faithful.” This is what Jesus modeled so well in the Gospels, and we are called to actively participate in his life and ministry here and now.

As a visual person, our Holy Father’s image conjures up for me images such as the story of the Good Samaritan, armed forces medical care units and the work of Blessed Mother Teresa. It also brings to mind early missionaries who brought Christianity to people around the globe. I find the idea of a “field hospital” attendant somewhat overwhelming. But being good stewards of the Gospel, we are called to stand with and to serve our brothers and sisters during some of the most difficult times in their lives. This is a tremendous challenge and yet a sacred honor.

Recently, I was selected to serve as a juror in a criminal case. It was my first experience and I found it an unsettling and emotional experience for me. The fears and tears of witnesses as well as the defendant brought a very human and vulnerable dimension to this legal process. Though the outcome of the trial was based on the evidence and testimony provided, for me, the face of Jesus was everywhere in the courtroom. After the trial concluded, I wondered if any of those who participated in the trial were ministered to in some way by the “field hospital” workers in their respective parishes or worshiping communities. Was anyone visited, prayed for or given a compassionate ear and encouragement? I certainly hope so. There was so much opportunity here. Until Jesus returns, our Church will always need to be a “field hospital.”

I thank those who have special gifts of empathy, compassion, courage, and love, and use them to be Jesus in the world. And, I ask you to pray with me that we will all recognize where we are called to heal wounds and warm hearts so we can share the love of Christ and be a witness to the Good News.

By Mary Ann Otto, pastoral minister for missionary discipleship, St. Mary and St. Joseph Parishes, Appleton, Wisconsin

Putting Faith into Action In a Time of Social Distancing

PRAY – Spend time with God each day. Read the Bible or a devotional. Meditate. Listen to prayerful music.

PAY ATTENTION – God is with you! Look for God in the care of others and those you care for. See God in the beauty around you.

GROW IN GRATITUDE – Make this a time to be grateful for the blessings of life, faith relationships, gifts, talent and resources.

REACH OUT – Reach out to those who are fragile, alone, or in need. Call or video chat with elderly neighbors. GIVE Give to your parish. Your faith community is sustained through your giving.

CONNECT – Check in with other parishioners. Gather with others by phone or virtually to stay connected even when physically apart.

SHARE FAITH – As you talk with family and friends, share the consolation and hope you have through your faith in Jesus.

KEEP SABBATH – Sabbath is a time of rest and renewal in faith. Make this moment of physical distance a time for Sabbath.

 

By Leisa Anslinger, associate department director for pastoral life, Archdiocese of Cincinnati