Archive | September, 2016

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

September 30, 2016

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sttheresaofthechildjesus

October 1 is the memorial of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.  She is also known as “St. Theresa of Lisieux” and the “Little Flower.”  Her life story is also the subject of the feature film “Therese” released by Xenon Pictures in 2006.

St. Theresa was born on January 2, 1873 at Alencon in Normandy, France.  She was the youngest of nine children.  Five siblings died during infancy, and only Theresa and three older sisters survived.

After Theresa’s mother died when she was four, her older sister Pauline helped to raise her and taught her about Jesus and the gospel.  Pauline entered the convent when Theresa was nine, and at that point Theresa decided that she wanted to be like her older sister.  Theresa suffered a life-threatening illness when she was ten but she miraculously recovered, a cure attributed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Two years later another sister, Mary, also joined the convent.  Then on Christmas Eve, 1886, when Theresa was thirteen, she had a profound mystical experience in which the child Jesus brought light to the darkness of her soul.

The following year Theresa announced her intention to join her sisters Pauline and Mary in the convent.  Her father approved but the mother superior and the bishop refused, citing her age.  Subsequently, she accompanied her father on a pilgrimage to Rome and attended a papal audience.  While kneeling before Pope Leo XIII she asked for his permission to enter the convent, but the delay continued only a short while longer.

The local bishop relented and gave Theresa permission to enter the Carmel at Lisieux in 1888 when she was fifteen.  She was guided by Jesus’ words, “Unless you change your lives and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 18:2).

At first Sister Theresa wanted to be a martyr, but she discovered “a still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31), love.  Her plan was to perform ordinary kindnesses throughout the day, small good deeds done frequently, humbly, generously, quietly, and without fanfare, a spirituality that she called the “Little Way.”  She practiced this herself, and her example served as an inspiration for others to do likewise.

She was appointed director of novices when she was twenty, but three years later contracted tuberculosis.  During her final 18 months she wrote her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, in which she explained the way of doing little things with great love.  She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI twenty-eight years later in 1925.

St. Theresa is the patron saint of florists, airline pilots, Vietnam, and religious freedom for Russia; as well as the co-patron saint of missionaries with St. Francis Xavier and the co-patron saint of France with St. Joan of Arc.  She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 1997.

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Latest St. Thomas-St. John’s clash not all football

September 24, 2016

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St. Thomas and St. John’s have a college football rivalry at its peak when they take the field Saturday.

Yet, neither the players nor the fans can ignore the somber tone of the St. Cloud area this weekend. Everyone will take a moment of silence before kick-off in Collegeville to remember the Crossroads Mall stabbing victims and Jacob Wetterling.

It called leadership from both Catholic universities to ask their respective fans attending the game to remain mindful of the community. A memorial service for Wetterling will take place in St. Joseph on Sunday at the College of St. Benedict.

Everyone visiting the area this weekend is asked to be respectful of the St. Joe community by keeping the campuses and streets clean, and by showing restraint and respect for a community in grief,” UST vice president for student affairs Karen Lange said in a press release.

UST athletic director Steve Fritz said that he’s seen good conduct at Tommies-Johnnies football games in the past, but the current events warranted the request. The MIAC rivals drew 17,000 last year in Collegeville when ESPN came out to cover pregame festivities.

That certainly was a fun thing for the students to get involved in,” Fritz said.

Fritz anticipates about 15,000 on Saturday in the biggest Tommies-Johnnies clash yet. Both come in ranked in the top six nationally for NCAA Division III with 3-0 records.

Game Preview

St. Thomas (3-0, 1-0), ranked No. 4, once again has a high-scoring offense with 53.7 points per game. Defense likewise looked dominant in its first three outings with 11 points and 190.3 yards allowed per contest.

St. John’s (3-0), ranked No. 6, will test both. The Johnnies allow eight points and 179.3 yards on average. Offense poses a threat both ways 200-plus yards rushing and passing in addition to 44 points per outing.

Tommies coach Glenn Caruso said his team’s main key to victory is, “first and foremost, us playing our type of game, which I think is crucial.”

Notably, both teams have Division I transfers playing quarterback. Penn State transfer Jackson Erdmann, a former Rosemount high school standout, starts for the Johnnies. St. Thomas actually has two Division I transfers at quarterback, but they back-up starter Alex Fenske.

Jaques Perra, a transfer from Minnesota and one-time Roseville star, has seen time under center with the Tommies. Southern Mississippi transfer Gabe Green has also seen snaps.

St. Thomas still has another former Division I player in the backfield with running back Jordan Roberts. Injuries have left Roberts’ status in doubt though. He didn’t play the previous game against Carleton College.

Either way, the Tommies won’t slow down in the running game. Tucker Trettel and Emitt Peisert average 5.2 and 4.3 yards per carry in 19-plus attempts.

UST again has depth across the board. Whether it’s Division I transfer under center or ample talent elsewhere, Caruso likes the depth his squad has.

We win a lot more games because people embrace the roles that they’re given,” Caruso said.

That’s what they’ll look for on Saturday. The two rivals kick-off at 1 p.m.

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New Hill-Murray stadium named for prayer

September 15, 2016

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Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium has its grand opening on Friday at Hill-Murray. (Photo courtesy of Hill-Murray School)

Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium has its grand opening on Friday at Hill-Murray. (Photo courtesy of Hill-Murray School)

Hill-Murray’s football team will kick-off its new stadium on Friday in a familiar way.

Pioneers football players ask for the intercession of Mary with the title, “Mary, Queen of Victory” before each game, which the new stadium is named after. That prayer tradition goes back to the 1971 according to Hill-Murray president Jim Hanson, who also graduated from the Maplewood school in 1973.

“Coach Terry Skrypek, who went on to coach at the University of St Thomas for over 20 years, used to say a Hail Mary before every game that he coached,” Hanson said.

Skrypek coached hockey, baseball and football for the Pioneers and joined the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame after a 40-year coaching career. He led the Pioneers to the 1982-1983 state hockey title and amassed a 325-44-3 record.

“His brother, Father Greg Skrypek initiated a specific saying to follow when he was our chaplain, ‘Mother, Mary of Victory’ and the team would chant ‘pray for us,’” Hanson added. “This has become now a long held tradition for all of our teams and a cheer you will hear in the new stadium on Friday night.”

Mary’s title of ‘Queen of Victory’ didn’t come out of nowhere at Hill-Murray one day in the 1970s. Queen of Victory originally came about after Don John’s navies defeated the Turks at Lepanto in 1571. Pope St. Pius V asked all the faithful to pray the rosary because of the Turks’ threat to Italy. The Holy Father declared Oct. 7 the feast of Our Lady of Victory, which later became Our Lady of the Rosary.

While Hill-Murray athletes invoking Mary, Queen of Victory doesn’t guarantee a Pioneers victory, it does witness taking a moment for prayer in public. Likewise, the stadium’s name will call to mind the Mother of God for all competitors and visitors.

“The family who purchased the naming rights of the stadium are long time members of the community with a history of participation in extracurricular activities, and they asked that the name reflect the prayer that they all said and remember fondly rather than name the stadium after them or their business,” Hanson said.

Mary Queen of Victory’s field will remained Higgns Field however. Father Higgins served as a priest and teacher many years at the school.

The family who Hanson mentioned had asked for the field name to remain. Father Higgins, who now resides in Michigan, received an invitation for the grand opening but can’t make it because of health reasons.

Hill-Murray’s new stadium will also have the blessing of Archbishop Bernard Hebda when he comes on Friday in the early portion of a day-long grand opening celebration. Festivities conclude with the Pioneers football team (0-2) taking on Hastings (1-1) at 7 p.m. in a key East Metro District Red Division match up. The Pioneers will look to bounce back from two lopsided road losses at Tartan and Henry Sibley.

Mary Queen of Victory’s first varsity football game will make two stadium grand-opening contests for first-year Pioneers coach Peter Bercich. A former linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, Bercich provides color commentary for KFAN’s coverage of Vikings games. The Vikings kick off its first regular season home game at the new US Bank Stadium on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Bercich, who played college football at Notre Dame, has much familiarity with Catholic schools. He also attended Providence Catholic in New Lenox, Illinois where he emerged as a prep football star.

In May, Bercich took over a Hill-Murray football program that didn’t win a regular season game in 2015. Nonetheless, he and the team have a state-of-the art facility to work with, which can’t hurt in the program’s rebuilding process.

Mary Queen of Victory has an artificial turf field and a new track surrounding it. Both came as needed changes from the previous stadium.

“We had a six-lane dirt track, basically an agriline road like at your cabin,” Hill-Murray athletic director Bill Lechner said. “We weren’t able to host a track meet or have practice for our kids at all. When it rained, it was pure mud.”

The old grass field didn’t fare much better. Late-season Pioneers football games looked like mud bowls.

“We’re on a high water table, so the grass field was great if it was 70 sunny, but it got muddy tore up so quickly like some fields do,” Lechner said.

Supporters of Hill-Murray raised the $3.5 million needed for Mary, Queen of Victory Stadium. Teams of all levels at the school, the physical education classes and the band each make use of the new stadium.

 

 

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The Children of this World vs. the Children of the Light

September 15, 2016

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jesuslightoftheworld

Jesus made a troubling comment when he was teaching his disciples:  “The children of this world are more prudent … than are the children of the light” (Lk 16:8b).  This is sad but true.  It is human nature.  Jesus was deeply disappointed, and in this case not so much with “the prudent,” a veiled reference to people who connive to make more money and get their way, but with those who claim to be righteous, decent, religious people.

The dishonest steward was a child of this world.  He was preoccupied with himself and his commission, or put in modern terms, he was self-centered, greedy, and on an all-out quest for the almighty dollar.

This world is obsessed with money, and tremendous amounts of time and energy go into making it.  Young people go to good schools and try to get good grades so they can get into good colleges so they can get a good job so they can make more money.

The children of this world are enterprising. Whether they are starting their own business or working for someone else, those who excel in business are enthusiastic and energetic, creative and imaginative, shrewd and resourceful.  They are experts at analysis and evaluation, skilled at developing an ingenious business plan, and eager to modify, improve, and update it.  They are dedicated to the task and willing to work long and hard, even if it means coming in early, staying late, or traveling.  They are not afraid of change and able to act quickly and decisively.  Their objective is a quality product or service, but it is also profit, and as much as possible.

Meanwhile, there are “children of the light.”  This probably refers to Jesus’ new followers, his children, with him as their light.  It also may have referred to good and faithful Jews in general or to the Essenes, a group of Jews, some who lived in the desert, who separated themselves from world and its evil ways to embrace an ascetic lifestyle in which they dedicated themselves totally to God.  Children of the light are those who love, follow, and obey God.

Jesus was upset.  His observation was that business people put more time and energy into making money than supposedly religious people put into their spiritual lives.

It would be a grand and glorious day when the primary objective of a school is to form disciples in God’s ways.  Jesus is longing for followers who are enthusiastic and energetic about him and his gospel, and creative and imaginative in the application of his gospel values to their daily lives.  Jesus wants disciples who can size up the situation and develop an ingenious plan to root out evil and replace it with great good, both in their individual lives and their organizations, and to do so decisively and without delay.  He also wants believers who are willing to put in their time when it comes to prayer and service.  Jesus wants to surround himself with people who want to get ahead, not with money and possessions, but in holiness and God’s grace.

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Social Justice and Abortion

September 12, 2016

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On Monday, September 12, an ad appeared in the Minneapolis paper claiming that Catholics could, or should I say should, support abortion as part of their Catholic Social Justice beliefs. This could not be farther from the truth and the group Catholics for Choice should not be allowed to even use the word Catholic!

In my almost 8 years when working as the Respect Life Coordinator for this archdiocese, I always taught and professed and I hope lived the social justice work of our church. I wrote and acted in support of healthcare reform, immigration reform and the right to a fair wage. None of these things are in opposition to the right to life. In fact, it is because of our teaching on the dignity of the human person, which starts at conception, that we have the other teachings.

Of the seven themes of the Catholic Social Justice teachings, life is the first and foremost. It is listed first because without this most basic right the others have no meaning.  It is the foundation on which the others are built upon.

I can only assume that this group who calls themselves Catholic hopes to influence others during this election year by steering  people to a pro choice candidate but this is not a political issue…it is a moral one.

Discerning and deciding the best ways to support women and families during a difficult or unplanned pregnancy may be up for discussion. That is the discussion of “how” to best solve the problem, but to somehow twist Catholic social teaching into support for abortion is an affront to anyone who calls themselves Catholic.

Yes, at one time, before I knew my faith, I called myself a “pro-choice Catholic.” I did not know the meaning of either word. I did not know God’s love for me and I did not know the teachings of the church. I did know however, first hand the terrible effects of abortion.  We are made, as women, to give life, not to end it and when we go against our human nature we drive ourselves further from God and we drive ourselves further from being receptive of that love. If you ever doubt the devastating effect of abortion, just speak to a woman who has had one. If you are pro woman, you are pro life!

There is no quick fix to changing the minds of those who profess it to be a Catholic right to be pro choice. I do know that for me it took a great deal of love to open my eyes. It took someone showing me that love, that compassion and teaching me that truth of what the church teaches to reach my heart.

Please share the truth of our faith with others so that there can be no misunderstanding.

 Public funding for abortion is NOT a Catholic social justice value.

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Mercy for miserable sinners

September 7, 2016

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St. Paul

Mercy is one of God’s most wonderful attributes.  God is kind and merciful.  Paul was utterly dependent upon God’s mercy.  So was Peter.  So are we.

Paul and Peter had something in common:  both were intensely aware that they were miserable sinners.  Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Of these I am the foremost [the worst]” (1 Tim 1:15); and Peter told Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8).  Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and arrogant.  Peter tempted, doubted, denied, and abandoned Jesus.  They badly missed the mark when it came to doing the right thing.  They were not pleasing to God.  They offended God.

After all of Paul’s wrongdoing, he should have been in serious trouble.  He deserved condemnation and punishment, but he did not get what he deserved.  Instead of a conviction and a fine, prison time, misfortune, or some other penalty, God treated Paul mercifully (1 Tim 1:13,16).  God still loved Paul.  Jesus even asked Paul to preach the gospel.  Paul was completely overwhelmed by such unwarranted kindness.  The mercy of God was a gracious gift.  He did not deserve it but he received it nonetheless.

Paul mentions this to encourage us.  Paul would like to tell us:  “With how bad I was, if God was merciful to me, no matter how bad you may have been, God will be merciful to you, too.”

God is merciful.  There are many aspects to God’s mercy.  God gives us the benefit of the doubt.  God is lenient instead of severe, soft instead of heavy-handed, gentle instead of rough, gracious instead of high and mighty, kind instead of mean, tender instead of harsh, compassionate instead of irritated or irked, understanding instead of aloof, patient instead of perturbed, sympathetic instead of hostile, quiet instead of lecturing or scolding, calm instead of angry, serene instead of furious, accepting instead of rejecting, forgiving and absolving instead of condemning, reconciling instead of isolating, and pardoning instead of punishing.

Each of us is like Paul, a sinner.  It is almost impossible to make it to the end of the day unblemished.  When we add up the sins of the past day or week, it is humbling, and when we add up all of the sins of our past life, it is devastating, downright demoralizing.

Despite our sins we must never lose hope.  Paul states emphatically, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).  Jesus went to the Cross to save us.  It is through the Cross that we receive divine mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.  God was merciful to Paul, and no matter what sins we may have committed, God will grant us mercy!

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Jesus, model teacher for instructors and catechists

September 1, 2016

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JesusSermonMT

Summer vacation is over, and another school year is about to begin.  Instructors are headed to their classrooms, and catechists are headed to their faith formation groups.  The main focus of education rightfully belongs on the students, but it is also a high priority to reflect on the role of those who facilitate the learning process, teachers and catechists.

In education, a teacher who is experienced, highly effective, and an expert at training new teachers is a “Master Teacher.”  Jesus explained that these attributes belong to him when he told his disciples, “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am” (Jn 13:13).  Christian teachers who wish to excel in their ministry would be wise to take their cues from the greatest teacher of all.

Love all the students.  It is difficult to love every student.  Some resist.  Others are slow.  Peter was impulsive.  James and John wanted the best positions, the others were indignant, and they squabbled among themselves.  Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray him.  The disciples had their shortcomings.  Every student does.  Yet, Jesus loved each of them, and his authentic love for his learners was the single greatest secret to his success.

Pray for your students.  Jesus prayed for his disciples, and teachers should pray for their students.  Prayer not only asks God’s grace and blessing for the students, it also has a transforming effect on the teacher’s disposition toward their students.

Ask the Holy Spirit for help.  The Holy Spirit came down on Jesus at his baptism before he began his public ministry as teacher, and the Spirit gave him wisdom, insight, inspiration, energy, and courage.  Teachers should pray to the Holy Spirit for the guidance and understanding they need to carry out their ministry.

Prepare; study before teaching.  Jesus may have lacked a formal education, but he had an inquisitive mind, and he learned from others and on his own.  Mary and Joseph homeschooled him.  He was in the custom of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4:16) where he was taught by the rabbis.  He went to the Temple in Jerusalem where he sat “in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Lk 2:46).  From the way that he quoted Scripture, it is evident that he spent long hours in study and memorization with the books of the Bible.  Teachers who follow the example of Jesus do their homework.  They study before they teach, and they come to class with a well-prepared plan.

Use a variety of methods.  Jesus taught with lectures such as the Sermon on the Mount.  He was fond of storytelling with his parables.  He frequently taught large groups, but there were a number of occasions when he pulled his disciples aside for small group learning, and he also taught individuals as a tutor.  An assortment of approaches keeps learning interesting.

Be patient and kind.  The disciples were confused when Jesus taught in parables and asked, “Why do you speak … in parables?” (Mt 13:10).  Jesus did not get irritated.  Instead, he patiently explained his imagery (Mt 13:18-23; 36-43).  Many students do not comprehend the first time.  Jesus shows how to treat slower learners with extra kindness and provide additional instruction.

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