Archive | November, 2011

How to recognize a sheep

November 23, 2011



Dorothy Newcomb

I don’t think Jesus wanted anyone to sit comfortably with Sunday’s Gospel about dividing the sheep and the goats at the Last Judgment (Mt. 25:31-46). In the parable, the sheep on His right represent those who have heard and answered God’s call to serve the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the imprisoned. The goats on His left were those who didn’t act on that call.

As a 1970s Christian singer put it, “The only difference between the sheep and goats is what they did and didn’t do.”

While it’s clear that things won’t go well for us unless we get involved in works of mercy, I don’t think we have to look hard to find opportunities to be sheep. One person who blessed me by how she took on what Jesus sent her way was my former neighbor, Dorothy Newcomb, who passed away last week.

A single woman who lived most of her 98 years in the same St. Paul home, Dorothy was very aware of, and involved in the world around her. Her long career in state and federal government  included 21 years working for the CIA in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis.

Dorothy’s Episcopal Church community provided many opportunities to serve and she responded wholeheartedly. In the 50s and 60s, she befriended and cared for Native Americans who were migrating from rural Minnesota to the Twin Cities. Dorothy’s small white house near the Mississippi River was known among Native Americans as a place where they could find assistance.

In service of those in need

Dorothy kept her front closet full of clothes she collected from friends so she could outfit families that came her way. Sometimes they’d call with a specific request and other times there’d be a knock on the door and she would set a traveler up on the couch for the night.

Later she learned about a Hmong family who needed a sponsor to come to the United States. While sponsoring them, Dorothy also mobilized her church to provide items for the family’s household.

In the 70s, Dorothy heard about a Nigerian immigrant whose family was joining him in the United States. They needed a place to live while in transition so Dorothy let the entire family stay in her three-bedroom house as she helped them get established.

At Thanksgiving, Dorothy invited all “her families” for a meal around her big dining room table. She also found time to tutor elementary school students and for many years was a companion for an adult with special needs.

Dorothy cared for her own family, including her three nieces and their children. During a turbulent time in one niece’s adolescence, she offered a place away from home to regroup and focus.

Godmother to 17

Though she had no children of her own, Dorothy was godmother to 17, including children from a variety of cultures. Well into her 90s, she worked to maintain relationships with all of them and their families.

You wouldn’t have noticed anything sheep-like about Dorothy on first glance. It was more evident in how she looked at others. It turns out that sheep have better eyesight than goats–they can see the face of Christ in those they meet. And just as importantly, their quick reflexes don’t allow them to sit back and do nothing when they’re called to act.

Eternal rest grant unto Dorothy, O Lord, and thank you for her life as a sheep.

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Mass? On Thanksgiving?

November 21, 2011

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There’s ‘having’ to go to church, and there’s ‘wanting’ to

“Mass? On Thanksgiving?” the man-child’s voice asked with not a little incredulity. “We don’t have to go to Mass on Thanksgiving.”

No, the voice of reason and rationality answered.

You don’t have to go to Mass on Thanksgiving, I said. I just thought you might want to go to thank God for all the gifts you’ve received during the past year.

I might as well have been talking to the deceased turkey on the counter that was having its cavity stuffed at the moment.

That conversation happened 20 years ago.

I remember writing a column about it at the time — yes, in the old Catholic Bulletin — because a debate was going on at the time about holy days of obligation. Very few Catholics were attending those “obligatory” feast day Masses, and although it took several years, the “obligation” was removed. Now, as we know, in the United States we observe several former obligatory attendance feasts on the nearest weekend. (Immaculate Conception — Dec. 8; Assumption — Aug. 15; Ascension Thursday).

But back to Thanksgiving 1991.

The assigned lector was unable to make it, and as I walked into church, the pastor grabbed me to fill in in the emergency.

That’s where an insight came into the difference between “having to” and “wanting to” go to Mass.

When you lector at weekend Masses, you can see all the folks who duck out at Communion, all the folks who rush out to their cars at the first note of the recessional hymn, all the folks who are in the parking lot before the priest even makes it halfway down the aisle to the back of church.

On that Thanksgiving Day, when the only people who were at Mass were the folks who didn’t feel “obliged” to be there but “wanted” to be there, guess how many people left Mass early?

Not a single one.

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Rick Santorum: daughter has Trisomy 18

November 21, 2011


There is something mutually promotive about the bond between daddies and their little girls. Fathers, with their awesome responsibility as the head of the family, are very protective of their princesses, and daughters look up to this giant of a man and bring out the best in him.

"These children have so much to teach us!"

This past weekend our oldest girl, a freshman in high school, attended the father-daughter dance with her hero. A pink, lace dress was bought ages ago, a corsage and boutonniere were ordered and their RSVP sent in (late… as usual, but at least I found it!) My husband looked dapper for the portraits–and I quietly thanked God that when he fished out his tuxedo from the back of the closet, he remembered to check that none of our boys spilled A1 Sauce on it the last time it was borrowed.  My daughter and my husband had been “cutting the rug” with their swing dancing at our recent family weddings in anticipation (She didn’t want to look dorky in front of her friends–you know how teenage girls are!) They rocked the Prom Center I’m told, spent a lot of time bonding and created lasting memories.

Another Family’s Father-Daughter Dance

But not all fathers have this opportunity with their daughters. Take Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania–his daughter, Bella, has Trisomy 18. Lately I have been reading about Mr. Santorum, his wife and their seven children. The Santorums cherish each week they have with Bella, and consider this time with her a gift. Against all odds, little Bella recently celebrated her 186th week of life (The one-year survival rate for Trisomy 18 is one percent.) And even though she can’t walk, I have a feeling that this Catholic presidential hopeful carries his princess in his arms and dances her around the kitchen.

I believe that one of the reasons the Santorum family is so passionate about respecting human life is due in part to an earlier experience with their son, Gabriel, who had a fatal condition which was discovered in utero. According to “The doctor told the couple, ‘Your son has a fatal defect and is going to die.’  But Gabriel was born alive. As Santorum recalls, ‘For two hours he lived a life that knew only love.’ ”

Embracing and Promoting Life

Taking care of a child with disabilities is an uphill battle, and so is building the culture of life.  It’s obvious that Mr. Santorum is used to rolling up his sleeves and getting these jobs done. Below, I’ve listed some examples of his pro-life efforts:

  • He assisted with the Schiavo legislation, playing a key role in ushering the bill through the Senate to a vote on March 20, 2005.
  • He has described contraception as “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
  • He delivers pro-life speeches (some say they’re the best they’ve heard)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Santorum were invested as Knight and Dame of the Magistral Grace of the Knights of Malta (assisting people with disabilities and illness)
  • He debates against partial-birth abortion
  • He speaks about the need for strong families and upholds the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman

A beautiful video

When Bella was born with Trisomy 18,  the doctors told the Santorums to “Let her go.”  This angered them, and they fought for her instead. Eventually they came to the realization that Bella makes their family better. Daddy’s little princess is the center of his universe. “This child can do nothing but love me,” the former senator stated.

Another beautiful aspect about his little princess is that she will never have the ‘normal’ daughterly concern about her dad looking dorky. And most importantly, Senator Sentorum, like every cherished daughter, Bella can give you strength and a sense of purpose to fight the uphill battle. And she can make your heart dance.

YouTube Preview Image

(Thanks to The Catholic Spirit staff member, Craig Berry, for passing information about this topic my way! And thanks to my mom, Cecelia MacDonald, for her help with editing!)

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A Vatican II Catholic tells why he loves Mass

November 18, 2011


I’m going to love Mass come Nov.26-27.

I love Mass now, of course.

I loved Mass back in 1963 when I was an altar boy and “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam” was rolling off my tongue although I had not a clue what it meant.

I loved Mass in the late ‘60s when we had guitar Masses in the high school gym – and 1,100 high school guys – yep, all guys – belted out “Sons of God, hear his holy word, gather ‘round the table of the Lord.”

And I loved it when we had “low Masses” for just our homeroom in the high school chapel and the presider invited all of us to come close around the altar to better see and know and understand what was happening at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

 A prayer for all times and places

I loved Mass in the Bradley Hall auditorium when the Newman Center took it over for us Catholic college kids Sundays, and I loved it in the dark and sparsely populated old church at what used to be St. Pat’s on the south side of Peoria, Ill., before it was closed.

I loved Mass in the crowded church basement at St. Bernadette in Drexel Hill, Pa., in the quiet of the weekday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, in the boisterous cacophony of joy-filled Catholics at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis and in the comforting community prayer of Presentation of Mary in Maplewood, Minn., where at the end of Mass a spontaneously erupting round of applause for some terrific liturgical music is not uncommon.

So when we Catholics begin praying new words at Mass the weekend of Nov. 26-27 instead of the words we’ve prayed for more than 40 years, I’ll still love Mass.

 We can deal with change

When as we are praying the new words of the Creed and get to the word “consubstantial” I’m probably going to still shake my head and wonder how in the world anyone thought that was a good idea. But I’ll probably get used to it.

Thinking about that change in particular led me to consider other words we use infrequently in every-day life but all the time in prayer. We seem to be okay with asking the God to “forgive us our trespasses” – and how many of us regularly use the word trespass as a synonym for sin?

But this wasn’t meant to be an exercise in apologetics on behalf of the new Roman Missal. I’ve read at least a dozen explanations explaining the need for the changes and just as many commentaries questioning those explanations.

Frankly, neither matter.

I’ll still love Mass.

 Why Mass matters to me

At Mass my whole person is lifted up by thoughts I don’t usually have the rest of the week, thoughts on a higher plane, a level beyond my work, my loved ones, my hobbies.

At Mass I’m challenged to be a better person than I have been. I feel as though I absorb ideas of how to follow Jesus and the ways he said we need to live.

I’m challenged to reform and I’m inspired to keep on the journey – not just do what I’ve been doing but do it better, maybe do more.

At Mass – no matter where or who or how many people are in the pews or folding chairs – I feel affirmed in my choice to be part of this 2,000-year-old tradition. Note that word “choice.” Nobody is forcing me to be at church. I go because I want to. Because I get something out of it. And what’s affirming is that I feel part of something good and valued by others.

I love Mass because when I kneel down after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Communion I feel something deep inside me pushing me to imitate that Jesus in every part of my life, reminding me of what kind of person I’m supposed to be, comforting me that because I’ve taken Jesus into my heart he is with me, fortifying me and giving me the nourishment I need to be that person God made me to be, that God expects me to be.

 I’m not the only one who loves Mass

I understood a lot more about loving Mass when a fact-finding tour took me to Lithuania just after the fall of the Soviet Empire.

Our group of Catholic journalists went to Eastern Europe to see how we Americans might help our brothers and sisters as they brought their publications from their underground existence into the light of freedom.

The priests in our group presided at Mass in a hotel room in Vilnius, and we’d invited an American to join us. She’d been working in Lithuania doing development work for two religious agencies.

Rebecca Martin cried her eyes out through the entire liturgy.

“I’m sorry,” the 25-year-old from Indiana said, drying her eyes. “I’ve been here for two and a half years. You don’t know how much it means to hear Mass in your own language after so long.”

Bob Zyskowski is associate publisher of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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Are American Catholic funerals ‘off the track’?

November 17, 2011

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Funerals aren’t what they used to be.

That’s the gist of the foreword to a book I’ve just gotten into.

The title is “Great American Catholic Eulogies” (Acta Publications out of Chicago), and it’s just that — a collection of eulogies of folks who are Catholic and whose names many of us will recognize: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Kilmer, Dorothy Day.

There’s 50 in all, and the eulogizers are often just as well known as the person be eulogized: Grantland Rice (on Babe Ruth); Maria Schriver (on Tim Russert), Ronald Reagan (on John F. Kennedy).

I can’t wait to read these, but I was stopped by the following excerpt in the foreword and had to share it with somebody. It’s written by Thomas Lynch, an undertaker. Needless to say he attends a lot of funerals. I wondered how many of us would disagree with him, or like me find themselves nodding in agreement.

Here goes:

“…the ritual wheel that worked the space between the living and the dead still got us where we needed to go. It made room for the good laugh, the good cry, and the power of faith brought to bear on the mystery of mortality….

“For many Americans, however, that wheel has gotten off track or needs to be reinvented. The loosened ties of faith and family, of religious and ethnic identity, have left them ritually adrift, bereft of custom, symbol, metaphor, and meaningful liturgy or language. Many Americans are now spiritual tourists without home places or core beliefs to return to.  Rather than dead Mormons or Muslims, Catholics or Buddhists, we are now dead golfers or gardeners, bikers or bowlers. The bereaved are not so much family and friends or fellow believers as like-minded hobbyists or enthusiasts. And I have become less the funeral director and more the memorial caddy of sorts, getting the dead out of the way and the living assembled for a memorial ‘event’ that is neither sacred nor secular but increasingly absurd — a triumph of accessories over essentials, stuff over substance, theme over theology.

“The genuine dead are downsized or disappeared and we are left with memorial services where the finger food is good, the music transcendent, the talk determinedly ‘life affirming,’ the accouterments all purposefully cheering and inclusive, and where someone can be counted on to declare ‘closure’ just before the merlot runs out.”

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7 Ways the New Mass Translation is Closer to Scripture

November 17, 2011

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Photo/Catholic Westminster. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Because the Mass prayers are so familiar, I’m sad to say that once in a while I go on autopilot during the Liturgy. That will end in just over a week when English-speaking Catholics first bring the new translation of the Roman Missal to life at Mass. Many of the responses will be new and we’ll have to pay closer attention.

With the help of theologian Dr. Edward Sri’s book “A Biblical Walk Through the Mass,” and Father John Paul Erickson, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Worship, I’ve tried to show how the new translation brings the Mass text closer to the scripture it’s founded upon. Whether or not you’re ready for the transition, this post provides something to reflect on during Mass and after. The new responses are in italic, followed by the old text in parentheses.

1. The Lord be with you
...And with your spirit. (And also with you). Instead of the polite response we’re used to, this one sounds almost New Age until we discover that St. Paul said it in Gal. 6:18, Phil. 4:23 and 2 Tim. 4:22. The new response acknowledges that through ordination and the Holy Spirit the priest represents Christ in sacred duties. We address the priest’s spirit, the deepest part of his being, where he has been ordained to lead us in the liturgy.

 2. The Confiteor
…through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. This prayer, which starts with “I confess,” doesn’t change much in the new translation except for this line and one other word. The new words, taken from 1 Chron. 21:8, sounds repetitious but in praying them we more accurately convey our true sorrow for our sins.

3. The Gloria
The previous prayer won’t work because more than half the words are different in the new translation. One difference is that Jesus is identified as the “Only Begotten Son,” which reflects his unique relationship with the Father as described in St. John’s gospel. (Jn. 1:12, 1 Jn. 3:1)

4. The Nicene Creed
There aren’t a lot of changes to the Creed but here are a few of the most significant ones.
…all things visible and invisible (seen and unseen). This phrase is a more precise translation of St. Paul’s reference to all created things. (Col. 1:16)
… consubstantial with the Father (one in being with the Father). Here’s a big new word that will take a while to get used to. It’s the right word because It’s closer to the theological language of the Council of Nicea held in 325 AD where the Creed was developed in response to a heresy denying Jesus’ divinity. The new word means that the Father and Son are of the same substance.
…was incarnate of the Virgin Mary (born of the Virgin Mary). Another big word, consistent with the Latin text of the Mass, emphasizing that Jesus took on human flesh (Jn. 1:14), not just that he was born of Mary.

5. The Sanctus
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. The last three words of this line are the only changes to this prayer that comes right before the priest prays the Eucharistic Prayer. The new words are taken from Is. 6:3 where the prophet Isaiah received a vision of the angels praising God. “Hosts” refers to the angels in heaven.

6. Consecration Prayers
…Chalice of my Blood (Cup of my Blood) What’s the difference between a cup and a chalice? A chalice is associated with the liturgy–it’s a special Eucharistic cup that the Lord uses at the Last Supper. (Lk. 22:20, I Cor. 11:25)
…for you and for many (for you and for all) The word “many”  is closer to Jesus’ actual words at the Last Supper (Mt. 26:28) and more accurately reflects the Latin text. The addition of this word shows that Jesus died for all but not everyone chooses to accept the gift of salvation. The prophet Isaiah also speaks of how Christ’s suffering justifies many in Is. 53.

7. Prayer before Communion
Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof (Lord I am not worthy to receive you). The new words better represent the centurion’s request of Jesus in Mt. 8:8 and Lk. 7:6-7.



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Venezuelan baseball: Kidnapping sadly an occupational hazard

November 16, 2011


Souvenir from Maracay: An Aragua Tigers cap

Baseball in Venezuela has been getting a lot of media attention lately, but the news hasn’t been good. Earlier this month, Washington Nationals catcher and former Twins player Wilson Ramos was kidnapped at gunpoint outside his family’s home in the city of Valencia and held for ransom. Security forces rescued him unharmed two days later from a remote mountain hideout.

Father Greg Schaffer, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who serves at the archdiocesan mission in the Venezuelan Diocese of Ciudad Guayana, says kidnappings happen throughout the country, although those involving the families of Major Leaguers get the most press coverage.

The Ramos incident was a bit unusual because more often it’s the family members of ballplayers who are targeted for kidnapping, with the players expected to dip into their deeper pockets to pay the ransom.

According to Father Schaffer:

“Many of the baseball players who play in the United States in the major and minor leagues are from working class families or from families struggling to makes ends meet. When these players return home to visit family during the offseason they stay with their families — many of which live in neighborhoods affected by violence and delinquency. Consequently, the ballplayers and their families become targets. Last year, Luis Rivas, who used to play second base for the Minnesota Twins, was in Venezuela during the offseason visiting family, and he was shot in the leg as guys stole his car.

“Most of the well-known baseball players have bodyguards for themselves and their families. When I baptized the son of [former Twins pitcher] Johan Santana a couple of years ago in his hometown of Tovar, which is a small town in the western part of the country in the mountains, I saw he had six bodyguards at that time that rotated to protect him and his family. I asked one of the bodyguards what was the hardest part of his job and he said protecting Johan’s father, Jesus.”

Before Santana signed a Major League contract, Father Schaffer said, the pitcher’s father loved visiting with people as he traveled around town selling bread for his in-laws. Today, when Jesus returns for visits, he still enjoys visiting with townspeople. But now, because of his son’s fame and fortune, Jesus’ outgoing personality creates a security challenge.

Pumped up fans

Many other ballplayers and their families face similar challenges, and it’s hard to imagine the stress this causes. Currently, 164 Major Leaguers hail from Venezuela, according to the Baseball Almanac, including Minnesota Twins pitchers Lester Oliveros (Maracay) and Jose Mijares (Caracas).

It’s a sad situation for a country that loves baseball — a love I was able to experience firsthand several years ago.

Back in January 2005, my wife and I traveled to the city of Maracay for the priesthood ordination of one of our Venezuelan friends. The Diocese of Maracay, located in the state of Aragua in the north-central part of the country, has been in a partnership since the mid-1960s with the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., where I used to live.

When we visited, Maracay’s residents were buzzing with excitement about their hometown team — the “Tigres de Aragua” or Aragua Tigers (the same team that Wilson Ramos had returned to play for). The Tigers were competing with a team from Caracas in Venezuela’s version of the World Series.

Hours before the start of the series’ deciding game, Tigers fans had already filled the streets, creating a tailgate party of sorts that lasted all the way until game time. That night, my wife and I settled into our room to watch the game on TV — which we did, until the power went out in the stadium and the surrounding area.

We waited for hours along with fans across the city for the power to return before we eventually drifted off to sleep.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the middle of the night to the sounds of people yelling and horns blowing. I half-joked that Venezuela must be undergoing another coup attempt. I say half-joked because a former bishop of St. Cloud — now Archbishop Jerome Hanus of Dubuque, Iowa — was visiting Maracay in the early-1990s when rebels did, indeed, attempt a coup.

In our case, it was the neighborhood celebrating a Tigers victory that came late in the night after the power finally returned.

“Venezuelans love baseball,” Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez, a native of Caracas, told kids a few years ago when he announced a new scholarship to help young people from southwest Detroit go to college. Many other Venezuelan players have also given much back to their communities — both their home communities in Venezuela and their new homes in the U.S.

Venezuelans do indeed love baseball, and it’s a tragedy that the players and their families increasingly face threats to their safety. Let’s pray that the successful rescue of Ramos sends a message that will discourage other would-be kidnappers and that Venezuelans throughout the country get to enjoy their national pastime in peace.

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20 takeaways from a pastoral letter aimed to help Catholics get more out of Mass

November 15, 2011


Snippets of meaning from Archbishop John Nienstedt’s pastoral letter “Do This In Memory of Me”

With my highlighter in hand as usual, I read the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ first pastoral letter on the Sacred Liturgy. Here’s what caught my eye or touched me as worth remembering — or at least giving more thought to:

  1. “The words of the priest gave voice to the unspoken prayers of those gathered in faith.”
  2. “The words obviously are important, but their true importance lies in the mystery by which those words are animated, inspired and inflamed.”
  3. “…with the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal . . . we have the marvelous opportunity to stop and reconsider the important role that the Mass plays in our lives as individuals, as parish communities and as an Archdiocese.”
  4. “…the purpose of the Church is to call her members to holiness.”
  5. “…sanctity for the Christian is not a solitary activity.”
  6. “In the community of believers, our own hearts’ hopes and sorrows, joys and disappointments find reception, affirmation, and transformation as they are offered as one with Christ to the Father in prayer.”
  7. “The Liturgy . . . finds its origin in Christ’s call to be ‘gathered’ . . . . He calls us to holiness, but always in and through the church and her Liturgy . . . . this is the reason for the Church’s existence: to bring the baptized into a closer relationship with Christ as members of His one Body who pray the Liturgy together with Christ for the glory of God and the good of all.”
  8. “Our corporate prayer is thus a prayer that what has been accomplished in Christ might be accomplished in us, and that like Christ we might be sent to bear fruit for the life of the world.”
  9. “Unity does not mean ‘going along to get along.’ That would be a false unity, and one that cannot endure.”
  10. “As we are gathered around the one bread and the one cup, we are strengthened and summoned to form an ever greater unity of mind and heart with Christ Himself, so that we might be joined more closely to one another. Our unity with each other comes from this unity in Christ.”
  11. “Fundamentally, the Church’s Liturgy is not the expression of local customs or the particular interests of a parish or a priest. True enough, an assembly or a presider often do bring with them gifts and talents that should be shared with all, including at the offering of praise that is the celebrations of the Mass. But at its heart, the unity of the Roman Rite, reflective as it is of the Church’s universality, is meant to shine through our liturgical celebrations as an expression of our unity through one common expression of faith.”
  12. “How we pray together manifests what we believe.”
  13. “The new texts of the Church’s prayer provide a grace-filled moment to re-examine our liturgical practices, and to ensure that the liturgical life of our parishes, religious communities, and various apostolates are in conforming to the liturgical norms of the Church.”
  14. “Of course, it is not enough that we simply follow the liturgical law of the Church . . . we must strive to understand more fully just what it is that we are doing when we assemble. “
  15. “. . . take the time simply to listen to the Liturgy itself. We all must strive, clergy and laity alike, to hear with true docility the words the Church has given us, and the memories she cultivates within us as her prayers are proclaimed in our midst.”
  16. “When we stop to listen to the words of the Mass . . . we discover anew the mysteries of faith and enkindle the sense of wonder which marked the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they discovered the Living Christ, present to them.”
  17. “(Author Matthew) Kelly suggests that every Catholic ought to bring a journal to Mass which has inscribed on the cover, ‘What’s the one thing I need to do today to be a better person?’ He guarantees that if we have that single focus in mind as Mass begins, we will discover the joy and meaning that lies at the heart of the Eucharist. I think he’s right. I suggest we try it out.”
  18. “For many, even good Catholics, Sunday Mass can become just one more activity to fit into the schedule, rather than the culmination of the past week and the beginning of a new period of time.”
  19. “For human beings caught up in a whirlwind of activity, Sunday is meant to be a call to a contemplative re-examination of where our lives have been and where they are going. Sunday is meant to give meaning to the other six days of the week.”
  20. “We listen to the words of the Liturgy so that we may truly speak them in our daily lives.”
Care to read the pastoral letter in its entirety: Click here and you’ll have the option of reading it as it appeared as a special section in The Catholic Spirit or downloading a PDF.
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Vern Schultz has saved glimpses of St. Paul back in the day

November 15, 2011


If you’d enjoy a trip down memory lane through St. Paul 60-70-80 years ago, you might look for Vern Schultz’s “Memoirs of a Left Hander” (

The self-published book about growing up in the Frogtown neighborhood preserves some history worth saving about the 1940s and ‘50s.

Schultz, who lives in Prior Lake now, taught at St. Agnes High School in the early 1950s, and for many years officiated sports, including in the Catholic Athletic Association.

Catholic to the core, Schultz recalls both highlights and low-lights of Catholic life in those pre-Vatican II days. In more recent times, room in the Schultz home was rented to the pastor of St. Michael Church in Prior Lake!

No abortion for them

Schultz’s faith pours through when he writes about how he and his wife Toodie reacted when, after a genetic disorder took the lives of their first two children and a doctor recommended she have an abortion when they found themselves expecting again.

There is their gratitude, too, when Catholic Charities came to their rescue to help them adopt the family they so wanted.

Writing a memoir is no easy task, of course, and while the middle years of Schultz’s life get short shrift, that weakness doesn’t detract from the very pleasurable reading of his earlier years. Those are great memories of a time and place that need to be remembered and cherished, a Schultz has a nice writing touch.

Allow me, though, to offer advice for others putting down their life history: Get a proofreader. My teeth grind when I read “to” where “too” is required and “complemented” when “complimented” is the proper word. — bz

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Prayer for when you need to ‘do the right thing’

November 15, 2011


A Prayer for Help in Right Action

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work too, may be holy.

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.

Stengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy ‘Spirit, that I always may be holy.


— St. Augustine

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