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oregon star party

Faith And Astronomy

Faith And Astronomy

Dear Parishioners,

From Aug. 11-16, hundreds of geeks and their telescopes will once again descend on Indian Trail Spring in the Ochoco National Forest. I, too, make an effort to join the crowd of stargazers to peer into the night sky until sleep comes upon me or the sun rises in the early morning. This is called the Oregon Star Party.

Why do I do this? Great Question. It is similar to why does the Church spend any time on astronomy in the first place. You might be asking, the Church is involved with astronomy? And the answer is, absolutely! In fact, the Church has two professional observatories, on in Rome and another near Tuscan, AZ. We study to heavens to understand how the heavens go. We study the sky to know more about our place in the cosmos which science is excellent at discovering. We study the heavens to understand more deeply who God is and what he has created. For me, peering through my telescope helps me to more deeply comprehend how small I am and how therefore more great is God's love for me. The following video helps greatly in understanding why the Church is involved in astronomy.

Through my telescope I have been able to see hundreds of galaxies as well as nebula, and all the planets, even the dwarf planet, Pluto. In my desire to become more involved and support the Church's efforts in this regard, I have joined the Vatican Observatory Foundation and attended a workshop for priests and educators by the VOF. I am reminded that in the Scriptures is says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands (Ps. 19:2).  So, astronomy gives me another avenue to praise God.

Attending the Oregon Star Party also gives me a chance to share the faith amidst a crowd, may of whom are skeptics at best. I have encountered many faith-filled people and I enjoy encouraging them in their faith and hobby of astronomy. Please say a prayer for all who come that they may recover the awe that we all once had and be lifted up in their hearts and mind as well as in their faith.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor

Vacations & Commitments

 

Dear Parishioners,
 

This month of June marks the beginning of summer vacations. It also marks the time for me to remind us all not to take a vacation from our faith. Many of us will be traveling to some wonderful and sometimes remote places. God’s earth is a cathedral of sorts which proclaims his glory. I, too, will take my annual trip to the Oregon Star Party in August. I want to encourage you to make good plans. We’ve all forgotten something from underwear, to towels, to specific foods, to even important medications. This causes stress for what should be a time of relaxation and recreation. But, let us not forget our faith.
 

First, before you leave, check our website (stannegp.com) which has always had a place on the left of the page to find churches near your destination and between as well as their Mass times. Just type in the name of the city or zip code, and you will be given several options for Mass. Write down or print out that information and take it with you. Of course, if you have a smart phone, you can do this on the fly. This is where technology is awesome! As a child, a great lesson my parents taught me was that camping was optional, Mass was not. Although it was a real sacrifice to drive back into town from a remote location while camping, my parents did it. At the time, I wish they would have not taken out my Sunday play time on the beach, lake, forest, etc. But, it did instill in me the importance and sacredness of our faith and, in particular, the Mass. I am very grateful today for their example. As a young adult and now adult, I found that going to Mass in a foreign place brought me home no matter where I was. The Mass was, essentially, the same everywhere I went. It brought me peace and a sense of groundedness amidst the strange and unfamiliar sites of my vacations.
 

Another way not to forget one’s faith while on vacation is to continue one's financial commitment to the home parish. Every parish experiences serious financial dips during the summer due to people not making their offering, because of vacations. Yet, we all have to pay our bills. Some of our bills are lower and others are higher simply due to the season.

must, of course, continue to pay our employees who minister all year around. There are several ways to be faithful to one’s commitment. I’ll list them from less ideal to the most ideal way.

 

  • Make up what wasn’t offered upon return from vacation.
  • Offer one’s giving prior to leaving which includes the time away.
  • Set up an automatic electronic payment system using what is called Automatic Clearing House (ACH). This, by the way, is the most secure way to give to the church.
  • The ACH method is very flexible, timely, and secure.

All we need is a voided check and your signature for permission to make the funds transfer. Using ACH is very secure, for it does not create a check which could be intercepted in the mail or somehow mishandled in a myriad of ways, but rather makes a direct exchange from one bank to another bank. Any parishioner can determine if they want their offering to happen on a weekly or monthly basis. One can change their giving amount and or cancel the process at any time with a simple phone call to our business manager, Stephen Voehl. I use this method, and it gives me satisfaction and peace to know that I am giving what I promised and it happens automatically, especially when I am on vacation.
 

So, please enjoy your vacations! We all need to take a break and to rest. It is part of living out God’s commandments to rest. Within that rest, we are to keep our lives focused on God. So, please do not miss Mass. As much as is possible, arrange your vacations to seek out the beauty and uniqueness of other Catholic parishes. They will inspire you either in what those communities do or in what we do. Either way it is a win- win. Regarding keeping your financial commitment, seek out Stephen Voehl or me for more information about ACH. 
Finally, may God be with you on your travels. May he guard and guide you with his angels. May your summer vacations be full of life, love, and adventure!

 

Blessings,
 

Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor

The Heavens Declare


Dear Parishioners,

Stephan's Qunitet (280-300 Million light years distant!)
A couple months ago, I wrote about the value of recreation and particularly vacations.  Well, a few weeks ago I went on a vacation which concluded with accompanying our youth in Spokane, WA for the Steubenville NW youth conference.  I camped at Le Page Park on the Columbia Gorge and John Day River, then Wallowa Lake, OR, then onto Chief Timothy Park, ID, followed by a short stay at Farragut State Park, ID.  On my way back, I had the opportunity to meet up with some family in the Salem area.  The weather and scenery was magnificent until I returned to the smokey Rogue Valley.  Yikes!  Apparently, the situation with the fires will take weeks if not months to extinguish, possibly until the first real seasonal rain in October.

This weekend, I am not at the parish, but took my annual journey to the Oregon Star Party in central Oregon (oregonstarparty.org).  700+ geeks and their telescopes set up shop each year on a high desert plateau SE of Prineville, OR and stay up all night over the course of a week to view the amazing stars, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies that adorn our skies.  From the city, it is hard to see any of these things well, but from this dark spot in Oregon, the brightest thing impeding our view is the Milky Way itself.  As a priest, I have been asked why I spend time looking into the dark skies with my telescope.  The Scriptures explain it well: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Ps 19:1).  For me, it reminds me of how small I am and how awesome God is.  It also reminds me that despite our relative smallness in the universe, God still loves us with a perfect and sacrificial love.  It makes me wonder why God created it all.  It makes me wonder why there are so many things we can see, yet could never visit personally.  I’ve seen all the planets, many many galaxies and groups of galaxies so far away that the light I see was emitted long before humanity existed.  What an amazing God. Why did he do all this.  It simply keeps me in awe of his majesty.  God is the king of the universe for sure.  

Though you may not own a telescope yourself, you, too, can enjoy the beauty of the heavens.  Assuming that smoke or clouds aren’t a great issue, anyone can observe the coming Perseid Meteor Shower.  This has been typically the most active meteor shower each year with potential of very large fireballs streaking across the sky!  It will peak on Aug. 12th and 13th.  All you need to do is look up.  I recommend getting a lawn chair that reclines or a blanket and just hang out in your back yard and see if you can catch a glimpse of these momentary shots of dust from the heavens.  Avoid lights if you can. If the sky is dark and clear, it is possible to catch up to 100 meteors an hour.  Learn more by watching this youtube video: http://youtu.be/zO83KP54YXs

Vacation and recreation are important to us all.  No matter where you go, don’t forget that God desires to be with you the whole way.  Don’t forget that Mass is the pinnacle of our worship, so find a Catholic Church local to your vacation destination. Soon enough Fall and Winter will be here, so open your heart to God’s grace and let him recreate you in his image this Summer. 

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor