Viewing entries tagged
Faith

Lenten Season Coming

Lenten Season Coming

Dear Parishioners,

Lent begins next week, Wednesday, March 6th. As usual, we have our three Masses we offer on that day. We have Mass at 8:30 AM with our school, a 12:05 PM Mass timed for our folks on a lunch breaks, and we have our 7 PM bilingual Mass for the whole church whether they speak English or Spanish.  And that is the start. There is much happening in which you can participate. Here are the basics:

  • Friday Simple Suppers - these will begin at 5 PM and conclude at 6:30 PM

  • Friday Stations of the Cross - These will begin at 6:30 PM in the church. See schedule in the bulletin

  • Rite of Election- The Archbishop will be with us on the following Satuday, March 9th. This is not a Mass, but a Liturgy of the Word with a rite of special recognition for those who are journeying through the RCIA and desire to become fully initiation Catholics.

  • Small Lenten Groups - see bulletin or office for detail

  • FORMED Lenten Resources - Check out the Lenten online

  • Kiosk - Special books and CD’s have been rotated in with enrichment for Lent

Fast and Feast - This idea for Lent speaks of a creative mix of fasting or abstaining from things that are not good for you or others. Another approach is to add something which will deepen and strengthen your faith.  Here’s some ideas from the author and minister, William Arthur.

Fast from judging others; Fast from hostility;
Feast on the Christ indwelling them. Feast on non-resistance.

Fast from emphasis on differences; Fast from bitterness;
Feast on the unity of all life. Feast on forgiveness.

Fast from apparent darkness; Fast from self-concern;
Feast on the reality of light. Feast on compassion for others.

Fast from thoughts of illness; Fast from discouragement;
Feast on the healing power of God. Feast on hope.

Fast from words that pollute; Fast from suspicion;
Feast on phrases that purify. Feast on truth

Fast from discontent; Fast from idle gossip;
Feast on gratitude. Feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from anger; Fast from unrelenting pressures;
Feast on patience. Feast on unceasing prayer

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

The Bad Liturgy of Sports

The Bad Liturgy of Sports

Dear Parishioners,

Have you ever considered that football is similar to liturgy? They both have pomp and circumstance.  They both have beloved traditions. They both have particular uniforms. They both bring people of varied backgrounds, politically, socioeconomically, intellectually, etc. They strive to unify the people towards something that is true and noble. They strive to help bring out or encourage the best in humanity. Of course there are many differences.  For example, liturgy is not a competition. It is not entertainment. It is not violent in any way. The action on a football field is not essentially an act of the Divine, but of humanity, yet liturgy is the work of God and the people.

This past many weeks, and particularly, this last week, many people have been upset by gestures made by football players on the field when the U.S. flag and National Anthem were presented. The events have cause people to take sides and become more divided.  So, I was pondering on how it has become such a flashpoint. As a liturgist, I started pondering and has some insights that may be of help.

In liturgy, the actions, symbols, rituals, words, and music are all supposed to be done well such that all understand what they communicate.  When these things confused the congregation, this is the litmus test that we have experienced “bad liturgy.” In the context of the intersection of liturgy and sports, particularly football, it seems that the actions taken during the opening ceremonies (presentation of the the US. flag and National Anthem), have caused confusion. I believe it is safe to say that we all love our country.  It is also safe to say that we all reject racism and brutality by anyone in authority. If these are values that we share, then liturgically speaking, we should be able to find ways to communicate our values in a clear and coherent ways. This clearly did not happen, demonstrated by the divisive responses that resulted.

As Catholics, we are called to be ecumenical, that is to be open to the faith of another, to be desirous to understand another’s faith and belief system. The Catholic Church does this very well in its official channels with delegates and representatives to other faith traditions. Our goal is unity.  But, short of perfect unity, we seek understanding to find some unity amidst diversity, and charity must be the means by which this is done.  Unfortunately, the events of recent weeks have failed in this endeavor. They have demonstrated that we have a variety of interpretations of the presentation of the U.S. Flag and National Anthem. It has demonstrated that there is a conflagration of politics, sports, social justice, and patriotism. 

As Catholic Christians, we are called to be people of charity seeking understanding and reaching out to those who are poor and oppressed.  We Catholics even have a soundbite which helps us in our focus. We call it the “preferential option for the poor.” So, in light of this Gospel call, we should have concern for those who are victims of injustice and critique how those who have power, wealth, and influence are responsible for their duty to promote the common good and help the poor. In this light, my prayer is that in our national discussion about the events of the past several weeks, we will be people of faith first which will drive us to enter into dialogue which finds common ground. I hope that the signs and gestures that players and teams decide to use to express themselves will be made clear so as to rally us all around the common cause for peace and justice. In a way, I’m going to give the NFL a “mulligan” if you will.  I hope that in the coming weeks, they can come up with a clear and coherent way to express themselves that will unify their fans and our country.  Here’s some of my own personal thoughts on how that could be done which the NFL has done in the past:

The NFL could make all their players wear extra arm bands or ribbons on their uniforms, symbolic of the injustice they desire to remedy while also promoting all our service men and women. They could kneel at some other time outside of the presentation of the U.S. flag and National Anthem so as not to create confusion. They could change socks and wristband to a common color in order to raise awareness of the cause. Teams could give away or sell t-shirts or wrist bands with the team logo alongside statements promoting racial harmony and social justice, and give the proceeds to non-profits that further that cause. They could have a moment of silence expressly for the victims of racism and violence. The NFL could make a concerted effort to show how players go out into our communities and give talks to school children and others. They could publicize meetings where NFL players and officials go talk to our senators and representatives. Teams could publish a group photo in their local newspaper stating that they are unified in racial harmony, are against brutality by people in power, and lift up all those who serve our country.

I’m sure there are many other ways that could been used that could have expressed our unifying desires for our country and challenged our ills. The NFL’s recent bad liturgy has made things more difficult for fans and non-fans alike. Even the players have expressed confusion and struggle as to how they can help express their views and unify at the same time. How do you think they can more clearly help unify us using clear methods which we could all understand and rally behind?  I hope these thoughts will add to the ongoing discussion of our national debate and faith-filled community.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus said, "Where I am going you know the way." Thomas then answered, "Master, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" In the context of the moment, Jesus was trying to encourage his disciples not let their hearts be troubled. And why? Because, Jesus knew that his disciples were afraid and unsure of the future. Jesus told them that, despite his leaving, he would prepare a place for them and then return. He assured them that, more than anything else, they needed to know that Jesus is the "way and the truth and the life," and thus they went out with courage and faith. In this event, Jesus is speaking to us as well.

In each of our lives, there are changes, uncertainties, and other things that cause us fear and worry. In view of our new church building project, the reality that our current church will be demolished could cause anxiety and sadness for some. For others, there is anticipation and excitement. One thing is certain, we must be sensitive to each other during this process. We all hold memories of sacraments and other events that were commemorated in our church.

Going forward, be assured that people of good faith are striving to be good stewards in the process. Things are bound to change and mistakes will be made. We will be bumping into each other more and sitting closer to each other. In our transition period, which is slated to begin on June 24/25th, we should not be like the Israelites who grumbled and, thus, wandered in the desert. Rather, we are the disciples of Jesus who are called to a particular mission (this new church) with courage and faith.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger Pastor 

Sport: A Classroom of the Christian Virtues

Sport: A Classroom of the Christian Virtues

Dear Parishioners,

Last week at the end of the announcements at the 11 AM Mass, I made known my hope regarding this year’s Super Bowl. I exclaimed, “Go Falcons!”  Instantaneously, I received back some cheers and laughter.  After exiting the Church and then encountering the community as they were leaving, I was greeted with a multiplicity of cheers and laughter as well as some who exclaimed, “Go Pats!”  It was all in fun and while differing in views with regard to the team for which would be rooting, it was a win all around. In those moments last Sunday, we exemplified what Pope Francis had encouraged us to be and do. That’s right. The Pope recorded a short video message for people who were going to experience the Super Bowl.  Here’s what he said:

Great sporting events like today’s Super Bowl are highly symbolic, showing that it is possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace. By participating in sport, we are able to go beyond our own self-interest - and in a healthy way - we learn to sacrifice, to grow in fidelity and respect the rules. May this year’s Super Bowl be a sign of peace, friendship and solidarity for the world. - Pope Francis, February 5, 2017

Overall, the game turned out to demonstrate all of these signs. Moreover, it was filled with displays of the classical Seven Christian Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance (see Catechism of the Catholic Church #1805), Faith, Hope, and Charity (ibid. #1813). Mastering them makes one an excellent athlete, and more so, an excellent example of a Christian. In fact, it would be a very productive conversation to discuss each of these virtues in light of the game and to hone one’s vision about these virtues, not only in watching or participating in sport, but striving to live them out in our own lives.

Sport has been a very effective vehicle to battle injustice. A powerful example of this was dramatized in the Clint Eastwood directed movie, “Invictus,” starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. It depicts how the newly elected Nelson Mandela forgave his oppressors who jailed him due to his opposition to Apartheid and used rugby as a vehicle to unify South Africa. I highly recommend this movie.  It is rated PG-13, so parents should use their discretion with their children in viewing the movie. Other sport-related movies I have found which exemplify these virtues are“Rudy,” “The Blindside,” “Radio,” “We Are Marshall,” and “Remember the Titans.”  Okay… yes, these are all about football. Did I mention that I liked football?

In sport as in life, the desire is for excellence. And while there were also counter examples of each of these virtues (traditionally call the Cardinal Sins and which we should rightfully reject) in the Super Bowl, St. Paul to the Philippians gives us good advice: 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. - Phil. 4:8-9

St. Paul was not ignorant of the lessons and examples that sport can offer Christians. He even wrote about life as “running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). He wrote of enduring our trials as “discipline” (Heb. 12:7). Again, the connection of sport with the Christian life is clear.

Personally, I detest poor sportsmanship probably because of my own experience with injustice, greed, and the other Cardinal Sins.  So, when I watch sporting events, I look purposefully for all the Christian Virtues, for I recognize my need to have examples of real people, more than superhero-fiction, who can encourage me and challenge me to greatness, not just for my own sake, but for the sake of being who God call me to be. When we live out who we are called to be, when we live as the saints God desires us to be, we ultimately give glory to God, a purpose greater than sport, indeed, a purpose greater than all other purposes.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

p.s. Congratulations to the New England Patriots!

Be Salt & Light

Be Salt & Light

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we heard from Jesus that we are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (cf. Matt. 5:13-16) Salt was a preservative and is still used as an additive to our food, making it more tasty.  Salt was an important chemical compound which was valuable to the people then and now. Chemically, salt, the ionic compound Sodium Chloride (NaCl), cannot be turned into another compound by any known natural process. That means the quality of saltiness cannot be removed from the compound.  What he just ignorant of chemistry? No. Here’s some thoughts… 

In antiquity, sources for salt were highly impure and therefore, exposure to water over time could remove the salt leaving only the impurities which would not have the salty taste.  So in this manner, it is possible for someone to come to the conclusion that salt could loose its taste. Since we are talking about Jesus here, this sense of understanding is not likely the way in which Jesus intended to speak.  More likely he was speaking rhetorically: what good is salt if it is not salty? Knowing some basic chemistry heightens the sense of contradiction to the point of hyperbole (exaggerating to make a point).

Jesus may have wanted to express how important we are to his plan and that by dismissing or diminishing our calling, we become useless.  Are you aware that you are called by our Lord for some task, a vocation, in this life? It is ridiculous for any of us to make a claim that we are without value when he himself made us in his own image. You see, we cannot lose our value (aka our saltiness). So, know that you and I are all salt, important parts of life and of God’s plan, valuable beyond imagination, wanted and loved beyond comprehension. Faith can be another way to understand the image of salt used in Jesus’ teaching.  What good is faith if it is not faithful to God’s command to be shared? This connects to the next image Jesus spoke about.

He called us “the light for the world.”  He wanted us to know that we have received the light of truth and salvation which is intended to be shared with the world.  Too often some might say, “My faith is a private thing,” and excuse themselves from expressing or sharing it.  While it is certainly an intimate thing which dwells deep within one’s heart, Jesus is clear that we are not to hide ourselves or keep our faith, to ourselves. So, pray this week about how you might be able to recognize your saltiness and be a beacon of light to others.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Continuing In The Faith

Continuing In The Faith

Dear Parishioners,

When was the last time you can truly say that you were actively learning and growing in your faith?  For some, it was during classes for confirmation in high school. For others, they haven’t attended a class or read anything since 6th grade. Still others have not picked up their Bible and read it since they bought it or got it as a gift. This is the state of many of us Catholics, and it is not good. Think about it.  We spend thousands of dollars and years of our lives going to school for our professions, yet many of us stopped enriching and learning about our faith when we were a child or teen. Near the end of my life, I ask myself, what will be more important? What will have the most impact on my eternal destiny? I wonder if this is one of the pieces of the puzzle as to why some Catholics stop practicing their faith and no longer attend Mass. Such persons cannot withstand the faith challenges that come their way in our ever-increasing secular society. Simply “attending” Mass is not enough to be able to stay strong in the faith while secularism is bent on removing all forms of religion, specifically Catholicism.  

Towards offering opportunities to grow in our faith, St. Anne’s has several bible studies and faith-sharing groups.  We also have addiction support groups for those who desire a safe place to break the chains that bind them.  We also have many prayer groups that meet throughout the week as well as our Adoration Chapel for silent prayer and contemplation.  There is an art-therapy group, several rosary groups, periodical theology classes sponsored by the Archdiocese, and the list goes on. Some of these are in the day time and others are in the evening. Some are offered in English while others are in Spanish

Personally, this month and next, I will be involved in two events to which I would like to invite you.  The first is next week’s (Oct. 16) Catholicism 101 which will be a Q & A session about anything that is on your mind regarding Church teaching and practice.  This is often fun and a great way to share our faith.  This will be next Sunday between the Masses from 9:30 AM to 10:45 AM. Next month (Nov. 20), I will be offering a “Theology of the Body” workshop where I will be teaching St. Pope John Paul II’s reflection on what has become the most compelling theology of marriage. That workshop will be in Room 1 of the Parish Center from 1 PM to 5 PM.  There will several breaks throughout the workshop and refreshments will be available.  Everyone is welcome, especially parents of teens, for I will be offering this same teaching in a 6-week period at our High School youth ministry nights beginning in February 2017.  All persons seeking to get married are required to come to this workshop as part of their preparation.

So, let us all do a gut check and ask what we are or are not doing to cultivate our faith. Let us be mindful that we are responsible for this gift of faith which God has given us.  And finally, let us be mindful of the myriad of opportunities there are to learn and grow here at St. Anne.  If you are timid to come to one of these gatherings, ask a friend to join you.  It may make all the difference in your life.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor