February 12, 2017

Our community of faith is blessed with many gifts. Two of the most vital are our remarkable commitment to Catholic education and catechesis in all its forms and our rich tradition of Catholic social teaching. As we look to a new millennium, there is an urgent need to bring a strengthened commitment to sharing our social teaching at every level of Catholic education and faith       formation.

Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . .  recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with "the least of these," the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, "To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest" (no. 1397).

Catholic social teaching emerges from the truth of what God has revealed to us about himself. We believe in the triune God whose very nature is communal and social. God the Father sends his only Son Jesus Christ and shares the Holy Spirit as his gift of love. God reveals himself to us as one who is not alone, but rather as one who is relational, one who is Trinity. Therefore, we who are made in God's image share this communal, social nature. We are called to reach out and to build relationships of love and justice.

Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.

Our commitment to the Catholic social mission must be rooted in and strengthened by our spiritual lives. In our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart that is necessary to truly love one another as God has loved us.

This excerpt from an USCCB document helps to focus us on why the Catholic Charities appeal is necessary and how essential it is in our spiritual life to act in love and to serve from the depth of our faith in God.

 

Hope filled 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

 

 

 

February 5, 2017

Children are most comfortable when they know they have their parents’ attention. This is     particularly true when a child is tempted to do something they’ve been told not to thus they refrain from acting on their impulse, at least for that moment. Another point to consider is that children crave the presence of their parents in the simplest ways i.e. eating at the dinner table, reading a book or playing at the park. The common thread in these examples is that the virtue of vigilance provides a simple and direct way of guiding a child toward God.

 

The virtue of vigilance was often stressed by the great Saint and educator John Bosco as a way of guiding his students toward an intimate communion with Christ. The practice of vigilance was in the classroom and in the extracurricular activities his pupils were involved in thus they would know that St. John Bosco truly cared for them and was watching over them. In essence the virtue of          vigilance was a means by which St. John Bosco visibly expressed his love to his students and they knew it.

A farmer prepares the land for the upcoming harvest knowing that great care must be taken to ensure a healthy yield. This requires constant vigilance of the crop itself making sure it is taken care of for the sole purpose of producing edible food. This method parallels how we would cultivate the religious development of a child and echoes what St. John Bosco would stress and what would     eventually lead to the development of his Preventive System of instruction (Reason, Religion and Kindness).

His Preventive system of educating was exercising a genuine care for the soul of a child so that the child would definitively know they are loved. The virtue of vigilance by its very nature fosters an engagement directed toward the religious development of a child in a healthy and productive way.

 

A great way the devil distracts us from our daily walk with Christ is injecting the notion; “I’ll get to it later.” When this attitude spills over toward the parenting of our children, the long term        effects can be devastating with the child perceiving that his or her parents have no interest in him or her. Authentic spiritual vigilance means a direct concerted effort to guide the religious development of our children by our authentic witness of faith and second how they interpret our witness and apply these actions in their own lives e.g. “like father like son.”  

 

The value of being vigilant in the religious development of our children cannot be overstated. It does not mean hovering around our child protecting from the elements of the world like a ‘Helicopter Parent’. On the contrary it means teaching and guiding how to navigate the world through a Catholic lens rooted in Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2727) provides us with a fitting closing reflection on the virtue of vigilance in light of Christian prayer:

 

We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of “this present world” can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our    conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the “love of beauty”, is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life. St. John Bosco, Pray for us!

 

 

Hope filled 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

 

 

 

January 29, 2017

The First Friday celebrations that Father Baugh started several years ago have been relocated to Immaculate Conception starting February 3.  OLMC will continue offering the Sacrament of Penance on First Fridays from 3-4 in the Rectory. IC will offer the Sacrament of Penance from 5-6:30 followed by a Rosary at 6:30 and then the First Friday Mass at 7pm.  This is another great way that our two parishes can work together for the benefit of our entire community of faith.

 

As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week I think we need to be reminded that Catholic schools are good community institutions for the same reason that they are good educationalinstitutions. The members of the school community create an environment of faith, trust, family involvement, and high expectations. This positive environment reaches beyond the classrooms of Mater Dei and benefits the local community. As Pope Pius XI wrote in the      Encyclical on Christian Education “The proper and immediate end of [Catholic] education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian, that is, to form Christ Himself in those regenerated by Baptism...For precisely this reason, [Catholic] education takes in the whole aggregate of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic and social, not with a view of reducing it in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate and perfect it, in accordance with the example and teaching of Christ.”

 

Unfortunately, we are facing a crisis in Catholic education. In the past two decades, approximately 2,000 schools have closed nationally. Many of these schools served as community anchors for generations, providing a quality education to Catholic and non-Catholic children alike. These community institutions will not easily be replaced.

 

Yet, there is hope.  The closures are often related to decreased enrollment. This does not reflect a lack in interest among families. Many families, simply cannot afford the cost of tuition despite generous subsidies provided by the Church. This one reason why the “Support a Student” program is so important for Mater Dei Academy.

 

In order to address this problem, states from across the country are adopting school choice policies in hopes of increasing the availability of a nonpublic school education. These policies include vouchers, the Ed Choice program, and other states have scholarship tax credits, and education savings accounts. These programs have made a Catholic education more affordable. As a result, some states have successfully turned the tide of declining enrollment and closures.

 

My assertion has always been that while government intervention may be necessary, local support for MDA and all Catholic Schools is much more beneficial.  We are so greatly blessed to have a thriving and growing school here and the more we can back and encourage the wonderful programs at Mater Dei, the more our community will benefit. I implore everyone, whether you have children of school age or not, to attend one of the open house opportunities, or call for a tour, to see first-hand how Catholic Schools make a difference in our community.

 

Catholic Education 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