March 26, 2017

You may have noticed that some of the trees are being removed and many others are being pruned. There were a number of trees that were dead, dying, or sick. Being so close to the Church, the street and the driveways and for the safety of people and protection of property, including the Church building, cars, and power lines, unfortunately, they needed to be cut down. It is a significant loss, but it was necessary.

This is from a wonderful article on forgiveness:

One obstacle to beginning to pray and living within is the struggle to forgive. Whenever someone hurts us in a serious way, there is a wound that remains. We commonly find ourselves going back over these wounds again and again. What is most frustrating is that many times we thought we had already forgiven the person who hurt us. But when the memory comes back, we can sometimes feel the anger and the pain all over again.

To pray for those who have hurt us is difficult. Christ commands us to love those who persecute us. The Lord grieves with us and for us when we suffer these things.

Trusting in God means to pray for those who harm us, to seek to return good for evil. When this act of trust is made, the power of God is released in humanity. For two thousand years, this is what every martyr for our faith has revealed to the Church.

We have a special authority over the soul of someone who causes us great sorrow. Their actions have bound them to us in the mercy of God. Whenever someone hurts us physically or even emotionally, that person has demeaned their self even more; are even more in need of mercy.

Because of this relationship, our prayers on their behalf have a particular power. Living by the Cross means choosing, over and over, whenever angry and resentful memories come up, not to hold a grudge against someone who has hurt us. It means renouncing the desire of revenge. It means avoiding indulging in self-pity or thinking ill of those who have sinned against us. It means begging God to show us the truth about our enemy’s plight.

Precisely because Jesus has made death a pathway of life, Christians are also called to take up their crosses and follow Him. They must offer up their resentment to God and allow their bitterness to die. Offering the gift of our grievances to God is especially pleasing to Him.

This effort is spiritual, the work of the Holy Spirit. In order to forgive, we must pray, and sometimes we must devote many hours, days, and even years to prayer for this purpose. It is     difficult to live with ourselves, if we do not find mercy for those who have offended us.

There are moments in prayer when we suddenly realize we must not only forgive but must also ask for forgiveness. A transformation takes place when our attention shifts from the evil done to us to the plight of the person who inflicted it. Every time we submit resentment to the Lord,    every time we renounce a vengeful thought, every time we offer the Lord the deep pain in our heart we have made room for the gentle action of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not take the wounds away. They remain like the wounds in the hands and side of Christ. The wounds of Christ are a pathway into the heart of every man and woman. This is because the hostility of each one of us toward Him caused those wounds. With the Holy Spirit, this knowledge is a powerful gift.

Lenten blessings and be encouraged, we are all journeying with you. I pray our Lord richly blesses you. Always remember that I love you, there is no way I will ever love you less, and I will continue to pray for you every day. Please remember me and the priests who serve you in love.

   ~ Fr. Behrend

 

March 19, 2017

Charity is the essence of Christian perfection, for charity alone has the power to unite us to God, our last end. But for us poor, creatures, whom God wishes to raise to union with Himself, is charity the ultimate basis of the spiritual life? No. There is something deeper still which is, so to speak, the basis of charity, and that is humility. Humility is to charity what the foundation is to a building. Digging the foundation is not building the house, yet it is the preliminary, indispensable work, the primary condition. The deeper, and firmer it is, the better the house will be and the greater assurance of stability it will have. Only the fool “built his house upon the sand,” with the inevitableconsequence of seeing it crumble away very soon. The wise, on the contrary, “built … upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24-26); storms and winds might threaten, but the house was unshakable because its foundation was solid.

Humility is the firm bedrock upon which every Christian should build the structure of spiritual life. “If you wish to lay good foundations,” says St. Teresa of Jesus [Avila] to her daughters, “each of you must try to be the least of all” that is, you must practice humility. “If you do that … your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall” (cf. Interior Castle [Mansions] for post on humility VII, 4). Humility forms the foundation of charity by emptying the soul of pride, arrogance, disordered love of self and of one’s own excellence, and by replacing them with the love of God and our neighbor.

The more humility empties the soul of the vain, proud pretenses of self, the more room there will be for God. “When at last [the spiritual person] comes to be reduced to nothing, which will be the greatest extreme of humility, spiritual union will be wrought between the soul and God” (St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mt. Carmel, II, 7, 11).

 Our third week of Lent theme is: Solidarity

 One of God’s greatest gifts is the universal character of the Church, blessing and calling us to live in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in faith. In many ways our community of faith practices solidarity every day. Missionaries preach the Gospel and celebrate the Eucharist.   Catholic relief workers feed the hungry and promote development. Our prayers, donations, and volunteers assist the Church in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. The United States Catholic Conference and other Catholic groups defend human life and human rights, promote global justice, and pursue peace.

However, … our parishes often act as islands of local religious activity rather than as parts of the mystical body of Christ. At the parish level, where the Church lives, we need to integrate more fully the international dimensions of Catholic discipleship within a truly universal Church.

The Church’s teaching on international justice and peace is not simply a mandate for a few large agencies, but a challenge for every believer and every Catholic community of faith. 

Lenten blessings and be encouraged, we are all journeying with you. I pray our Lord richly blesses you. Always remember that I love you, there is no way I will ever love you less, and I will continue to pray for you every day. Please remember me and the priests who serve you in love.                                                                                                                                      ~ Fr. Behrend

 

March 12, 2017

On April 3, at 7:30, OLMC will host a teaching and exposition of Sacred Relics. Over 150 relics will be shown, some believed to be as old as 2000 years.

Among the treasures will be relics of St. Maria Goretti, St. Térèse of Lisieux (the “Little Flower”), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Faustina Kowalska. In addition, there will also be present a piece of a veil which is believed to have belonged to Our Lady and one of the largest remaining pieces of the True Cross in the world.

Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes. First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh. Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items). Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.

Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing.  In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.”  

· When the corpse of a man was touched to the bones of the prophet Elisha the man came back to life and rose to his feet (2 Kings 13:20-21).

· A woman was healed of her hemorrhage simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak (Matthew 9:20-22).

· The signs and wonders worked by the Apostles were so great that people would line the streets with the sick so that when Peter walked by at least his shadow might ‘touch’ them (Acts 5:12-15).

When handkerchiefs or aprons that had been touched to Paul were applied to the sick, the people were healed and evil spirits were driven out of them (Acts 19:11-12).

In each of these instances God has brought about a healing using a material object.  The vehicle for the healing was the touching of that object. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts.  In other words, relics are not magic.  They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God.  Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing.  But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).

Our Second week of Lent theme is: The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

St. John Paul II, in his Encyclical On Human Work [Laborem Exercens] writes: Work is a good thing for man-a good thing for his humanity-because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being.” no. 9

Work is, as has been said, an obligation, that is to say, a duty, on the part of man. . . Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which   requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others,    especially his own family, but also for the society he belongs to, the country of which he is a child, and the whole human family of which he is a member, since he is the heir to the work of generations and at the same time a sharer in building the future of those who will come after him in the succession of history. no. 16

Lenten blessings and be encouraged, we are all journeying with you. I pray our Lord richly blesses you. Always remember that I love you, there is no way I will ever love you less, and I will continue to pray for you every day. Please remember me and the priests who serve you in love.

                                                                                                                                    ~ Fr. Behrend