Weekly Message

Fr. Tim's Letter - February 10th, 2019

Hello, People of the Resurrection...Teaching Mass ‘Notes’ – Week 2

 

This week, our Teaching Mass project covers ENTRANCE RITES & the LITURGY OF THE WORD.

Remember, the Entrance Procession began when you took the first step out of bed to head to Mass.  The final lap is the filling up of the Parking Lot, the welcoming and greeting here onsite, and the walk of the ministers toward the altar, in the name of all of us.

Music and Song, being so powerful and evocative; they help to unite & congeal us as one in the Lord. So it’s important to sing along, no matter what voice we have, as a way of saying: “I’m here, Lord! Count me in!”

THE PENITENTIAL ACT takes to heart Jesus teaching: “If you bring your gift to the altar and there realize your neighbor has something against you, go first and be reconciled; then bring your gift.” (Matthew 5:23) It’s important for us to ‘desire, to desire to be at peace’ with God, each other and everyone, before we receive Jesus.

So we express our guilt and contrition; we stand on the same level ground as sinners hoping to become saints by God’s Mercy.  The priest then offers a petition (not absolution, so there’s no need to make the Sign of the Cross) that God be merciful to us once more.

Then we offer a song of praise – the GLORIA...like the angels over Bethlehem!

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

THE COLLECT/OPENING PRAYER - is offered by the priest, on behalf of all of the People, expressing our praise, our petition, all through Christ our Lord. His posture – the Orans – arms outstretched, accepting and vulnerable and open, like Jesus on the Cross.  This attitude and vulnerability, belong to the priest and all the People - open to God.

SCRIPTURES AT MASS – 3 SOURCES

THE OLD TESTAMENT – There are 72 books in the Old Testament. The first 5 are the Jewish Torah. Others are historical, wisdom/proverbs, literature, hymns (psalms), prophecy, and other literary forms.

THE NEW TESAMENT LETTERS – The Acts of the Apostles (the 5th Gospel, attributed to St. Luke) tells the story of the early Church; so do the ‘pastoral’ letters of St. Paul, St. Peter & St. John and the anonymous Letter to the Hebrews; the Book of Revelation seeks to describe the ‘end times’, the Great Victory & Heaven.

THE GOSPELS – These texts tell the story of Jesus’ teaching, life, healing, travels, interactions, and account for his Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension.  Three of them (Matthew, Mark & Luke) are largely overlapping and with shared material – called ‘synoptic’ (similar perspective & arrangement). St. John’s Gospel is more unique, poetic, symbolic, theological, and less concerned with specific details and timelines.

The current selection of the Scriptures for Mass is a masterful accomplishment, from Vatican II!  It gives us a great sampling of the Bible, which itself is not a Book, but a Library (a Book of Books). So, to read the Bible cover-to-cover isn’t such a good idea.

Instead, many monastic men and women rely on the Scriptures for Daily Mass as their diet, and sustenance – their guidance from God for the day and all it offers and asks of them.  That practice – Lectio Divina – is a great strategy for any one of us!

 

THE GOSPEL receives particular reverence. 

It is proclaimed by a deacon or priest

All those who are able, stand for its proclamation.

Sometimes the Gospel Book is honored by incense; and always, it is honored by a kiss from the proclaimer.

It is preceded by a sung ALLELUIA – a happy word, like LLLAMBEAUUUU! or BOOYAH! or COWABUNGA!!  We’re happy because Jesus is speaking directly to us, in the present!

A pious custom of making the Sign of the Cross on one’s brow, lips and chest, with the prayer: “Lord be in my mind, on my lips and in my heart that I may worthily receive Your Holy Gospel” is also appropriate.

THE HOMILY

Unlike a ‘sermon’, which is topical, devotional, thematic, historical and not necessarily related to the Scriptures which have been proclaimed, a homily is rooted in the Scriptures of the Mass, at least in part.

For myself, the best homilies are those which ‘shuffle the deck’ of Scripture (always True) with the shifting circumstances, events, struggles and joys of contemporary human life.  Just as a good shuffle guarantees a good hand, so this kind of “Scripture & Life Shuffle” allows the Eternal Word of God to speak to us in our circumstances; and empowers us to know how to apply that Eternal Truth to what’s going on here and now.

In my preaching, I try to pray over the Scriptures and look for something that jumps out...maybe from all three of them.  My effort is to start with a true story that will somehow get us to that point; and if it’s indirect or oblique – so much the better!  My hope is to ‘hook’ my hearers into wondering: “How is he going to connect that to the Scriptures?”  If I can, hopefully it’s memorable...the point, not the story. And then I try to close with some tangible application for the coming week.

OUR PROFESSION OF FAITH – THE CREED

If the homily is successful, effective, the Assembly should be eager, ‘all pumped up’ to recommit ourselves to Christ, at least for another week!  And so it becomes powerful and inspiring to profess the Creed together.  It makes us ‘family’!  When we celebrate Baptisms at Mass, it’s a reminder that the baby being baptized will be drawn to Faith by how we profess it, and live it daily!

 

So lots of ‘words’ in the Liturgy of the Word! Listening carefully, we pray to be able to put them into action every day!

As we hear, and seek to obey and speak and act on the Word in the world…

 

                                 “God bless us...EVERY one”!

 

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Fr. Tim's Letter - February 3rd, 2019

Hello, People of the Resurrection...Teaching Mass ‘Notes’ – Week 1

 

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (November 22nd, 1963) from Vatican II, declares that the Sunday Mass is “the source and summit” (#10) of our life together in Christ, as the Church.  Keeping the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection each week, we get our strength, direction & inspiration from this experience; & in this “Main Event”, we are most completely the Church – trusting with Jesus - love stronger than death; receiving what we need to let ourselves be ‘broken & poured out’; willing to die with Christ, because we trust that we shall rise with Him, by the power of Divine Mercy & Love! This is the great Truth & Mystery of our Faith!

These 3 weekends of “Teaching Masses” I’ll provide some ‘notes’ which may be helpful, so that this experience of explanation and even ‘dissection’, will help us to grow in understanding of why we do what we do, and appreciation & focus, as we celebrate Mass together each weekend, welcoming others to join us...“together in the Lord”. 

So...‘by the numbers’ this week:

3 CONCEPTS by which to understand the Mass -

THE MASS IS A MEAL – First celebrated in the setting of the Jewish Passover Supper, the Mass is intended to nourish us, and draw us together in ‘communion’, around a table, a feast. Our bodies, minds, hearts, spirits and relationships are fed by food, drink, companionship - breaking bread together, and also by the Spirit of God, who is present “wherever 2 or more gather in His name”. (Matthew 18:20) And of course, who’s not thankful for a feast?

THE MASS IS A SACRIFICE – Jesus’ Body is broken; His Blood is poured - out on Calvary’s Cross, and once more, on the Altar.  He models for us, and invites us to a sacrificial way of life, offering ourselves, ‘broken and poured out’ in loving Gospel Service.

THE MASS IS A SACRAMENT – Holy Communion is an outward sign of Jesus’ Real Presence with us and within us, so that we – the Church – can be the ‘Sacrament’ of His Presence in the world.  Not just a symbol, Roman Catholic Christians believe that the Bread and the Cup are Jesus’ Real Presence!  Transubstantiation – the substance which appears to be food and drink has been transformed by God’s Spirit into the Substance of Jesus, with us.

4 FOCAL POINTS IN A CHURCH-ROOM

ALTAR – The altar is Christ, the fixed and stable “Rock of our Salvation” (Psalms 16, 82, 89). We bow before it; we kiss it.  It is the ‘family table’ from which the Eucharist is served, a kind of ‘magnet’, drawing us together as the Church.

PULPIT/AMBO - Another ‘table’ or ‘altar’ from which (only) the Word of God is proclaimed (not merely ‘read’).

PRESIDER’S CHAIR – A sign of the humble service & ‘priestly’ ministry to which each one is called by our Baptism.

ASSEMBLY/NAVE – The Assembly of the Faithful  (All of us, together in Jesus) is the primary sign of Christ’s presence in the Church. Please give that some thought!

4 BOOKS REQUIRED FOR MASS

BOOK of the GOSPELS – The texts of Jesus’ life, death & resurrection; his teaching & powerful deeds. No other book takes precedence for us ahead of this one!

LECTIONARY – the 3-year cycle of Old Testament & New Testament scriptures which supplement the Gospel texts, and provide the Assembly with a rich sampling of the Bible’s books, stories and passages.

ROMAN MISSAL/SACRAMENTARY – the priest’s ‘playbook’, including texts for the specific seasons and feasts, and in red ink (rubrics) the instructions for gestures, actions, rituals and postures.

HYMNAL – since liturgy is not ‘theatre’ or performance, we all need to participate; St. Augustine observed: “Those who sing, pray twice”.

4 VESTMENTS

ALB – our white baptismal garment; any baptized Christian is entitled to wear it, especially in the service of a particular ministry.

STOLE – derived from a judge’s ‘mantle’, a rabbi’s prayer shawl, it is a long strip of cloth signifying the cleric’s ordination and ‘commission’ to serve and administer the sacraments in the name of the Church.

CHASUBLE – meaning “little house”, it is patterned after the Roman soldiers’ cloak – a simple sign of the Church’s charity, generosity and compassionate outreach.

DALMATIC – patterned after the Roman Senator’s garb, the outer garment of deacons, who initially assisted the bishops directly. Priests (presbyters) were assigned to the hinterlands to serve in the name of the bishops.

A GOOD QUESTION TO ASK AT ANY TIME DURING THE MASS

Since the Mass is a complex conversation between and among various ‘parties’, at any given time, who is speaking? To whom? On their own behalf or another’s? Who is listening?

 

A REMINDER

The Entrance Procession really begins when we each step out of bed, and begin to head ourselves toward the church for Mass. The “Church” – The People of God - flows out of our homes and out of the world, bringing with us all of our lives, hopes, dreams, successes, sins and struggles, to be gathered into the church-building, in the Name of Jesus Christ. If anyone is stalled or absent, the ‘parade’ is diminished.

OK! Enough for the first installment! As we gather around the altar together...

 

                   “God bless us...EVERY one”!

 

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Fr. Tim's Letter - January 27, 2019

Writing from -18 degrees at Morgan Lake, on a crisp and beautiful winter morning, I have three things for you to consider on this final Sunday of January, 2019.

 

1) Our sister in the parish family, Nancy Mary Siebers, makes ‘first vows’ in the Widows of Prayer at 10:30 Mass today!

              With Vatican II, the restoration of many practices of the Early Church emerged. 

              The awareness that each of us has our unique place in the “order of things” caused many ‘orders’, along with ‘Holy Orders’, to emerge in the early Christian Community: the Order of Penitents, the Order of Virgins, the Order of Widows being some of them. 

Later in Christian History, a vast variety of religious ‘orders’ would emerge, as folks found their place in God’s design: Franciscans, Norbertines, etc.

Both in Old and New Testaments, widows claimed a special place in the faith & care of the Community; certainly this remains true today, in the Church, and here at Resurrection. 

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“Widows of Prayer” was founded by Mary Reardona friend of mine from St. Pius X in Appleton – so that widows may find ‘communio’ & support, and also offer a ministry of prayer, presence and witness. 

Thank You Nancy for her commitment to this ‘order’, for the glory of God and for the sake of the Church!

2) The 2019 Bishop’s Appeal kicks off next weekend. Parishioners will receive a direct mailing to your homes.  The overall goal remains the same: $5.6M.  Our parish goal is slightly increased to $108K.

(Last year $158K was given from Resurrection.)

Please consider a generous gift for the sake of the ministries of the Diocese of Green Bay. Thank you!

 

3) Anticipating Lent, 2019, which begins on March 6th, and consulting the Staff and Worship & Spirituality Committee, we will have only 1 daily Mass at Resurrection during Lent

Given the shortage of priests, and the wide variety of daily Mass times right in our neighborhood, it seems ‘good stewardship’ to make this change at a time when many parishes in the diocese have no daily Mass.

So – on Monday & Tuesday Mass will be at 6:30am; on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, it will be at 8:05am.  This allows working folks to catch an early Mass a few days a week.  As Lent gets closer we will publish the schedule of area daily Masses for your convenience.  Thank you for your understanding & flexibility in this. Yes! In all of this & everything we do, please…

 “God bless us…EVERY one”!

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Fr. Tim's Letter - January 20th, 2019

Hello, People of the Resurrection!

 

Not wanting to run away from Christmas too fast – would that every day was Christmas, and the Word of God would become flesh and blood in every word, action, dream, relationship and aspect of every one of our lives – but Winter Ordinary Time, and beyond it, Lent, 2019, which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6th also hold some promise and opportunities for us.

I’m excited, and I hope you will be also, to offer 3 weekends of “Teaching Masses” here at Resurrection – February 2/3 and 9/10 and 16/17.

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It will be follow-up on the G.O.D. November segment on the Eucharist.  Hopefully too, it will be instructional for disciples of all ages, families, couples and individuals.

The Mass has been offered every weekend for 20 centuries. (Those of us who are weak, need it daily!) 

Our Church teaches that it is the “source & summit” of our life together in Christ:  The place we get all the energy, strength and mercy we need to live the Gospel; and the place we look most like the Heavenly Church, gathered together around one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one Table.

Folks have risked all, travelled much and made substantial sacrifices to be able to “Do this in remembrance of Jesus.”  And yet, in recent times, attendance plummets, and folks seem ‘bored’ and disengaged. Our head count in November, 2018 revealed only 24% of registered members present.

In these weekends, we will dissect a portion of the Mass to explain “why we do what we do”, and the rich symbolism and beauty of the Mass.  

This has been very helpful in my own life, back when I was 24; I observe it has helped other reclaim a deepened appreciation and experience of Mass. May the same be true here at Resurrection for us, and anyone you want to invite to join us!

No worries – we will honor the “60-minute” time frame, absolutely. I promise!

We will also forgo Baptisms during Masses these 3 weekends to respect the time frame and focus on this project.

For many, coming to Mass 3 weekends in a row is nothing different from our regular routine.  For others, it will mean a commitment and change in patterns.  I hope, pray and plead with you to make those arrangements, commitments and sacrifices, so that we will grow together in the Lord through the “Main Event” of the Roman Catholic Church – the Sunday Mass. As we do, please...

“God bless us…EVERY one”!

 

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Fr. Tim's Letter - December 16th, 2018

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Hello People of the Resurrection...

On this “Gaudete Sunday” – with the scriptural counsel to “Rejoice” - because we’re closer to fulfillment than we were when Advent began, please let me share about Thomas Merton. 

One of the great spiritual writers of the mid-20th century, Merton died, accidentally electrocuted by a faulty fan, 50 years ago, December 10th, 1968, in Bangkok.

The son of artist-parents, he was a brilliant, inquisitive outrageous ‘playboy’ of a young man, when at 23, and alone in the world, he sought out Baptism as a Roman Catholic.  3 years later, he entered the Trappist Novitiate of Gethsemani Abbey, outside Bardstown, Kentucky. 

And despite the silent, cloistered, simple, austere life there, he would become a world renowned writer, correspondent and spiritual and political commentator.

He yearned for the whole of creation to find its connectedness – it’s unity and community - with God and each other.

Just a few of his insights:

(On Christmas and the Incarnation)

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited.  But because he cannot be at home in it — because he is out of place in it, and yet must be in it — his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected because they are regarded as weak; and with those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, and are tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.  He is mysteriously present in those for whom there seems to be nothing but the world at its worst. It is in these that He hides himself, for whom there is no room.”

(On Saintliness) “For me, to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am, and discovering my true self.”

There’s so much more; for now, for now, enjoy this sampling!

 

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Fr. Tim's Letter - September 30, 2018

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Monday night; a ‘cashing in’ a few vacation days; sorta wishing the Norbertine house at Algoma didn’t have WiFi, or that I had more self-discipline to ‘cut the cord’, and just get away...be away, after days which have challenged us all, here at Resurrection, in the Diocese of Green Bay and at Saint Norbert Abbey.

Along with some extra sleep, and a good bike ride into Algoma, to visit the graves of some priests whom I admire very much in the parish cemetery, the one advantage of WiFi is that I could reach out to Bishop Bob, by e-mail early this morning, to let him know of the great love and affection which has been expressed for him, from so many of us through the weekend masses.  

As one woman put it (and I totally agree): “I love him more now than before, for being honest and coming forward with this this; he didn’t have to.”  Of course, knowing Bishop Bob, his integrity and goodness, from ‘inside’ he did have to do this, in order to be the man, the Christian, the Good Shepherd that he is.

He’s in a good place, with good people, though struggling with a clear agenda after 52 years for running from one thing to another.  There’s some ‘darkness’ he faces; we pray for him in that. And when I told him I had a few days off, he said:  “Tim, nature heals; so does silence.”  Yes, for him, me, and for all of us, if we allow...especially the silence.

I also tagged base with one of the victim/survivors (survivor is really more accurate for him) of the 1970’s abuse.  This person’s perspective surprised me, as he indicated that he had forgiven; it’s in the past; why bring it up again?  Whether you agree with that or not, please remember that every person has a right to their perspective.

And I spoke with the perpetrator in a very honest conversation; a much different person now than he was back then.  And aware of how sin can take a person over (so we all have to be cautious).  “There but for the grace of God...”

These various perspectives help me to process all of this – I hope with an integrated result.

I realize while I wish Bishop Bob didn’t have to go through all of this, that in order to be a loyal brother-priest and friend to him, I have to respect that he chose this path, for integrity. He identified publicly his mistake and its unintended though serious consequences. If I minimize that or ‘skate over’ it, I disrespect him and his goodness and honesty at this time.

I realize too, how little I know of what survivors of abuse need, and how much, I and we, as a Church, need to listen to them, in order to know.

As we make our way, respecting each other and continuing to pray and listen...

“God bless us...EVERY one”!

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Fr. Tim's Letter - September 16, 2018

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From Italian writer, Carlo Carretto (+1988), via Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, through the kindness of 2 parishioners, regarding these days in the Church...allowing ourselves a “love/hate relationship” with the Church, as Norbertine Father John Bostwick would say...

 “How much I must criticize you, my Church; and yet how much I love you!

How you have made me suffer much; and yet I owe so much to you.

I should like to see you destroyed; and yet I need your presence. 

You have given me much scandal; and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.

Never in this world have I seen anything more obscuring, more compromised, more false; and yet never in this world have I touched anything more pure, more generous, and more beautiful.

Many times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face; and yet how often I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms!

No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even though not completely you.

Then, too – where would I go?                          

To build another Church?

But I cannot build another without the same defects, for they are my own defects I bear within me. 

And again, if I build one, it will be my Church, and no longer Christ’s.

No, I am old enough to know that I am no better than others.

I shall not leave this Church, founded on so frail a rock, because I should be founding another one on an even frailer rock: myself.

And then, what do rocks matter?

What matters is Christ’s promise; what matters is the cement that binds the rocks into one: the Holy Spirit. 

The Holy Spirit alone can build the Church with stones as ill-hewn as we.

The Church - “God bless us...EVERY one”!