Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - July 27

Dear Parishioners:

Have you begun to know the Scriptures?  We Catholics have a reputation for not knowing the Bible.  Often, former members who choose to leave us and to attend other churches tell us that they did not learn anything about the Bible in the Catholic Church.  This is an indictment against us that we have to take seriously.  As an institution, we have to do a better job of communicating the Scriptures to our people.  As individuals and families, we need to take responsibility for our own education and study the Scriptures personally.

Here are some simple facts about the Bible from the Catholic point of view:

  • The Church herself wrote the Bible through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and established the canon of the Bible (that is, the list of Books included in the Bible).  God is the Author of the Bible and He used human beings with all their gifts and talents to accomplish His purpose; the Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible guided the Church to identify those texts that are in the Bible.
  • The text of Scripture was preserved by the work of scribes and monks in Judaism and in Christianity who devoted themselves to making these sacred writings available across the generations.
  • Through the centuries, the living teaching authority of the Church (Pope and Bishops) have assisted the members of the Church to interpret the Scriptures and to understand their meaning in regard to the salvation God gives us through Christ.
  • The whole life of the Church today is marked by the Scriptures: Daily prayer (the Liturgy of the Hours), the Sacraments, and every Mass.
At St. Timothy Church, Bibles are available in every pew.  We have a weekly Bible Study on Tuesday mornings.  Many opportunities for learning Scripture are available.

My reason for offering this reminder about the centrality of Scripture this weekend is that the first reading from the Sunday Mass has been a significant guide for my life.  While I was in the Seminary, I was seeking a way to describe how God is at work in my spirit, how I am to respond to the All-Loving Provider and Listener I know God to be.  The prayer of Solomon for Wisdom was expressed as a request for a “lev shome‛a,” “a listening heart.”  At a certain Mass when that was proclaimed and the homilist spoke about it, I felt a kind of integration of my heart, an answer to may quest for my own “name” in God. 

So, I share with you one of my Scriptures, the heart of my prayer:  Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart . . . .  (I Kings 3:9)  Have you found your Scriptures?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - July 20

Dear Parishioners:

This weekend we have our annual Mission Appeal with the Diocese of Columbus Missionary Co-op.  This year we have been assigned Hands Together, an organization that works to address needs in Haiti.  Since our parish has already shown generosity to Haiti in a variety of ways, it is a good match.  During our Parish Jubilee, we helped a family by building a house in Haiti through our donations.  We also shared in a Medical Mission trip by sending needed supplies with a group who were going to Haiti.  Our neighbor, St. Agatha Parish, has been working with Hands Together, involving their entire parish and all its committees and organizations as a way of entering into a Spiritual Renewal.  I invite you to be generous in your response to the appeal.

We are grateful to all who were part of the Festival this year.  Countdown for next year has begun – July 10-11, 2015.  As we wrap-up this year’s details, let’s be sure to note down things to keep in mind for next year.  One hidden item that took place without much fanfare was setting up a table with information about the Catholic Faith.  T. J. Lehigh set it up just before the first night of the Festival began.  No one attended to the booth, which was in the church vestibule, but the materials on display disappeared.  Perhaps we can think about such a booth next year, with live participants to share our Faith with those who come to visit.

As you will notice, I am away this weekend (taking advantage of the presence of the Missionary priest).  I am attending a Golden Jubilee Celebration for a Holy Cross Sister I have known for many years, Sr. Paula Goettelmann, C.S.C.  She was one who prayed me through Seminary and who has been present for many of my own milestones in priestly life and ministry.  It is a joy to be there, at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, as she and other Holy Cross Sisters are honored for their faithful service.  I will say a prayer for your at the Grotto at Notre Dame and give a nod to “Touchdown Jesus” for you as well.

Next weekend, T.J. Lehigh will be saying his farewell, even as he completes the major project for his summer assignment at St. Timothy, creating an opportunity for parishioners to share in the New Evangelization.  We are hopeful that many of you will make plans to take part next Sunday afternoon.  We are a welcoming parish family.  Let’s be sure our neighbors have heard from us!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - July 13

Dear Parishioners:

Thanks to all who are part of the St. Timothy Festival on the Green – Joe Lorenz and his team of captains, the Moms and Dads and Children of Parish and School who make it all happen, and all our guests.  You help to make it great!

What do you enjoy most about the St. Timothy Festival?  It is a time of fellowship and fun, a real builder of community.  Stories are told by every generation of our community.  When our alumni of School and Parish return to visit, this is something they remember with delight.  Since I have been present for seven festivals now, I have watched the interactions that happen and seen the power of such an event to forge bonds that are lasting.

We have such a wonderful sense of family at St. Timothy that we may be tempted to forget that there are many – even some among us – who do not experience a sense of welcome.  We may also forget that when God gives gifts, He expects a return on His investment.  How are we responding to the call to share what we have received?

As the Summer moves ahead, it is time to make plans for the Fall and for the next several years.  I want to suggest three areas of concentration: Prayer and Worship, Catechesis and Study, and Evangelization and Mission.  How we grow in these areas will decide our future.  If we allow ourselves to be moved by our own whims and by the cultural trends around us, we will lose ground quickly.  If we make a choice to commit to God and one another to grow in the active practice of our Faith and in our cooperation with the breath of God’s Spirit, we will become a true witness to Jesus Christ and His plan for the world.

Once you have had your fill of Festival pizza and fun and of the zeal of the St. Timothy community that accomplishes this task each year, you are invited to renew your decision to be a true disciple of the Lord.  Let zeal for God’s House consume you!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - July 6

Dear Parishioners:

As we enter into a new month, we also enter into a time of transition from my first six-year term as your Pastor to my second six-year term.  I remember well arriving at the parish which was in the midst of preparations for the Festival on the Green for 2008.  So, this will by my 7th Festival at St. Timothy Church.  How quickly the years have passed!

We have completed a time of special celebration of our Parish and School’s Golden Jubilee.   During that time, we have renewed our awareness of our history and expressed our gratitude to those among us who helped to build the foundations of our community.  Now we need to look toward the future and to make plans now for what we hope to accomplish in the years ahead.

As Pastor, I have come to know the parish and I have experienced the welcome that is certainly a hallmark of St. Timothy.  I have also seen some of the challenges that we have to face.  In the next six years, I will strive to lead you in the direction that I believe the Lord is calling us.  Time will tell if my instincts are correct, but your choice to walk with me will be the “sign” that we are on the right path.  I am certain that the Lord will supply Manna and Living Water, and that the Spirit is with us.  But we have to move now!

Recently, I attended a talk by Matthew Kelly, whose books many have read.  He points out that there are four key signs of Dynamic Catholics: Prayer, Study of the Faith, Generosity and Evangelization.  How do you score yourself in these four areas?  Where do you need to grow?

In the weeks and months ahead, I hope to offer some reflections as to how we can grow as a parish and as individuals in these areas.  We are a dynamic and welcoming family, or at least most people find us so.  But we do have some rough edges and we can grow in the depth of our witness in a world that is in need of true disciples.  Let’s enjoy the Festival together, and then get started anew in our efforts to plan for tomorrow.

What do you hope will be here for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren?  What do we need to do in order to ensure that it will be so?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - June 29 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Dear Parishioners:

What makes Catholics different from other Christians?  There are many different responses to this question, but one detail that will always be noted is that of the Pope.  Catholics are those who follow the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome.  The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, which we celebration June 29, highlights the ministry of the Apostle Peter in the Church, along with that of the Apostle Paul, and the Church of Rome which serves as a sign of the Unity of all Catholics throughout the world.

Having recently experienced the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, which took place in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict, we can recognize the continuing importance of the Pope in the life of our Church.  The history of the Church does show some men who did not live up to their call as leaders of the flock of Christ.  However, the earliest Popes in history who were martyrs, and the most recent Popes have been shown to the world as signs of holiness and courage in the face of all kinds of dangers.

Pope Francis shows the world the compassionate face of Christ.   Pope Benedict XVI showed a passion for truth and humility in the face of limitation.  Pope John XXIII was the Pope of docility to the Holy Spirit.  Pope John Paul II was the Pope of the Family.  Each of these servants of the servants of God taught us by word and example that God is worth our lives and that all the gifts we have received are meant for others.

This weekend, as we remember St. Peter and St. Paul, let us resolve anew to live the freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ and to profess our Faith with courage.  Let us strive to be a witness to the world that salvation in Jesus Christ is offered to all hearts who are open to His Grace.  And let us be generous in our contributions to Peter’s Pence, showing that we realize we are part of a Church that is truly Catholic, that is, truly one in Faith and in a willingness to sacrifice for one another, sharing material and spiritual gifts with all in need.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - June 22 Corpus Christi

Dear Parishioners:

There is an amazing flow to the Liturgical Calendar we follow as Catholics.  The very heart of the year is the solemn celebration of Easter.  From Easter Sunday, backwards and forwards, the calendar unfolds in order to express this centrality of the Resurrection of Jesus.  Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday) lead us to the high point of Easter and the proclamation of the Risen Lord Jesus. 

From Easter, we move through 50 Days with the Weeks of the Easter Season, to the Ascension and Pentecost.  Ordinary Time begins, but the next several Sundays highlight magnificent Mysteries of our Faith that are revealed through Jesus Christ.  The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday.  Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ follows. 

Then weekdays are touched as well.  Friday after Corpus Christi is the Feast of the Sacred Heart, and the Saturday that follows is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  God gives Himself to us in Jesus Christ.  He becomes one with us through the human Heart of Jesus, in cooperation with the human heart of Mary, the Mother of the Lord.  The celebration of the Liturgy takes us into the very heart of God and we are called to be One with Him in the midst of Ordinary Time.  The call of the Laity is to bring God’s Holiness into the secular sphere.  Are you cooperating with the flow of God’s Grace in you?

This weekend, I celebrate 29 years since my ordination to the Priesthood.  I am truly grateful to be with you at St. Timothy Church as my journey unfolds.  As a special gift to me today, I invite all our young people to consider a life of service in the Church.  Who are the future priests and religious among us?

One of the joys of my life as a priest has been sharing spiritual conversation with a variety of persons and learning about the different spiritualities that reveal to us the path for growth in relationship with God.  In order to share this kind of conversation in the parish, I would like to invite all who are interested to a Mass once a month on a Tuesday evening (generally the last) at 7:00 p.m.  We will celebrate Mass together, then gather in the Multipurpose Room to have some conversation about the life of the spirit.  In particular, I invite those who are affiliated in some way with the different religious communities to come together to share their experiences with their brothers and sisters.  The first evening Mass for “Spiritual Associates” will be the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Tuesday, June 24th.  Are you feeling called to go deeper with the Lord in the life of the spirit?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - June 15 Trinity Sunday

Dear Parishioners:

Trinity Sunday celebrates the central Mystery of our Christian Faith.  We know in Faith that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  This Revelation has come through the Gospel and through the Person of Jesus Christ.  The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to come up with a way to express the Mystery so that we can have a glimpse of the Divine Life that we are called to share in Christ.

How to understand the Trinity is not merely something abstract.  Because we are speaking of God, we are speaking of the very foundation of Reality.  The essence of existence is Being in Relationship.  The Life of the Church is a mirror of the Triune God.  We live in relationship to the Living God.

An analogy that may be helpful is the interdependence of the States of Life in the Church.  God is Father, Son, and Spirit.   Each Divine Person shares in the Fullness of Being God.  The Church is made up of Religious, Clergy and Laity.  The Religious – Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests – make vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, living the life of “Evangelical Perfection.”  They follow the Lord’s Counsel: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect.”  Clergy are incorporated into the Person of Jesus Christ sharing in His ministry among us as Servant and Priest.  The Laity are dispersed in every walk of life among human beings, just as the Holy Spirit is to be found everywhere.  All are members of the Church and have the task of proclaiming the Gospel and bringing the world to God.

Even within the varied States of Life, there are analogies that serve.  Husbands and Wives in their Sacramental Marriage are one Body, sharing in the reality of their Union, being fruitful and life-giving to one another and to the world.  Deacons, Priests and Bishops, as Shepherds and Servants, can only be who they are in relationship to the People of God whom they serve.  Members of Religious Communities find their identity in their Community and in relationship to the other members who share their charism.  Laity – married and single – have relationships that move them beyond their isolation, sharing their gifts in the wider society.

The Life of the Trinity is our eternal destiny.  It is also the Reality in which we live and move and have our being, and the experience we share in the Sacraments.  As we contemplate the Love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Triune God, may we grow in our willingness to share the Good News of the Kingdom with our world.

This week, I will be away to participate in the Reunion of my Seminary, the North American College, which will be held this year in New York.  I look forward to seeing some of my classmates and renewing friendships with others who were part of my preparation for priesthood as I complete 29 years of ministry.  Please keep priests in your prayers and remind your children that God is calling them to lives of service among His People.