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Top 10 Spiritual Resolutions for 2018

December 31, 2017


It is the start of the New Year  and we may or may not have made our New Year Resolutions.  Many people make resolutions to lose weight, exercise or save money, but what about our spiritual lives?

Here is a list of 10 Spiritual Resolutions that can change your life!

  1. Pray Every Day. Some of you may already to this but if you are like me sometimes in the morning rush I miss out on my 10 minutes of prayer with a promise to myself to get to it later.  Start the new year right and get up earlier and start the day with prayer.
  2. Pray Before Bed.  Just like starting your day right, it is important to end your day right. The Examen or Evening Reflection was written by St. Ignatius Loyola. It is five simple steps to reflect on your day that will change your 2018.
  • Remember God’s presence.
  • Respond to Him with thanks.
  • Reflect on how God showed Himself to you.
  • Repent of your failings.
  • Resolve to grow. 
  1. Keep a Prayer Journal. God’s presence is all around us but we sometimes don’t recognize it.  Keeping a prayer journal is a great way see His work your life. Never done it before? It is easy. Take a few moments after prayer to jot down your thoughts and anything that has been revealed to you in your prayer.  Take some time weekly or monthly to look for themes in your life and prayer.  Jot down the names or situations you are praying for, notice God’s responses, give thanks for answered prayers.
  2. Go to Confession. Centuries ago, it was customary to begin the New Year with a spotlessly clean house. Thus, houses were thoroughly cleaned as it signified a fresh start to the New Year. A clean house is good, but what about a clean soul? Start the new year right and get to confession! Better yet, resolve to go once a month! In addition to confession think about relationships you may need to heal. It might be a co-worker, friend or family member.  The way to lead in any situation is to lead with your own vulnerability.  It may be hard to take the first step and you may not get the result from the other person that you wished for but resolve to place humility above pride and people above being right.  It is a way to start the new year with a clean house and soul.
  3. Spend Less Time with Your Computer or Phone. This may sound like a secular and not spiritual resolution but spending less time on screens and more time with people (or in prayer) will improve your spiritual life.  There are some great things on facebook and on the internet but if you find yourself wasting time scrolling or in envy of other’s lives then you are not living your own life abundantly!  “I have come so that they may have life, and have it abundantly” John 10:10
  4. Read Spiritual Books. Spiritual reading plays an important role in our lives. Just as our bodies need exercise and good food, so do our hearts, minds, and souls.  For women – I recommend signing up for the  Read Between the WINE’s Book Club or check our recommended reading titles.
  5. Plan a Retreat. Just like planning a vacation for your family, planning a retreat for yourself needs to be a priority.  The new year is a great time to make those plans.  They can be as simple as spending a day at a nearby convent or monastery or taking a week long overnight retreat. Check with your priest for some suggestions. One of my favorite places is Pacem in Terris.
  6. Give. Plan to give of yourself this year. The old adage of time, talent and treasure is not just a ploy to get you to volunteer for the church or give money to keep it running.  Giving of ourselves is an expression of our love to God and all he has given us – which is everything!  When I had been suffering from a bout of depression, my priest suggested I volunteer at a homeless shelter or food shelf. It knocked me out of my own self-pity when I saw lives less fortunate than mine.  When cash is short – I am reminded that I am richer than 90% of the planet and even when my life is crazy busy, I think how difficult it would be if I spent the day looking for food to eat to survive.
  7. Rest and Sleep. On the 7th day God rested and so should we. Sleep and rest is healing. Check out this post by Fr. Mike Schmitz on getting enough sleep. To give ourselves the time to rest we may need to make room in our lives, so in comes #10.
  8. Say NO. We all should pattern our lives after Mary’s great “Fiat” by saying yes to Jesus. But saying yes to one thing may necessitate saying no to others.  In the WINE companion journal to Lisa Hendy’s book “The Grace of Yes” I wrote “The other lesson that I have learned in the grace of no has been that my well thought out “No” leaves open a yes to other things.  I heard a priest friend of mine answer the question about his celibacy to a group of teenagers when they asked him how he could have decided to become a priest and say “no” to a wife and children.  His response was.  “When a man does decide a “yes” to marriage that automatically means a “no” to all other women in his life.”  In that way a yes becomes a no to other things and a no becomes a yes to new possibilities. “
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Social Justice and Abortion

September 12, 2016




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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My Journey with the Stations of the Cross ~ A Walk of Mercy

February 10, 2016




I have a confession to make. Since it is Lent, it seems like a good time to lay out the truth.

Here goes: For as long as I can remember, I have never liked praying the Stations of the Cross! I mean I never “got” it. As a child, I remember waiting out the time repeating words I didn’t understand. Later, when I taught physical education at a Catholic school, I jokingly called it “Catholic aerobics.” Stand, genuflect, kneel, repeat.

I suppose, as with other beautiful Catholic devotions I didn’t immediately take to, I needed to explore the stations more deeply and see how God could make them personal for me. And that’s exactly what He did last year.

On Good Friday, my husband and I attended the Stations of the Cross at our parish, Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault, MN. Fr. Kevin Finnegan, our previous pastor, had compiled beautiful reflections from various Catholic authors and saints that fit each station perfectly. My husband and I were in tears at the end of the service. The journey of Christ’s passion, through the stations, finally became personal for me.

The Stations of the Cross are Christ’s journey to the Cross. We follow in His footsteps with each station, and reflect on our own journey through life and the specific trials we have encountered.

After my experience with the Stations of the Cross, coupled with the beautiful reflections Father complied, I set out on another journey: to share these stations with others. After Easter, I approached Father about the possibility of publishing these stations as a book. Perhaps if I struggled with the Stations of the Cross, maybe others did, too. Perhaps these additional reflections could assist them in growing in their love of this timeless devotion, like they helped me.

Well, I am happy to share that these stations are now available in a book called A Walk of Mercy: The Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross. Inspired by the prayers of St. Faustina, it includes reflections from various Catholic saints and writers, and is a moving devotional for personal or communal use. Along with the stations, Fr. Finnegan gives instruction on how to pray the stations. Also included in the book are striking photographs of the 100-year-old Stations of the Cross from the old German Catholic Church in our community.

Here is an excerpt from Bishop Andrew Cozzens’ foreword in the book:

This Walk of Mercy is meant to draw us more deeply into the merciful love of Jesus. It is meant to teach us that our own sufferings and failings are places of mercy, not places of condemnation. It is meant to show us that the merciful love of Jesus knows no limits. This is what allows us to surrender our whole lives to him: we know the depth of his mercy for us, so we can pick up our cross and follow him. As you pray these stations and meditate on Jesus’ mercy poured out for you, I pray you will be able to say in every circumstance what Jesus himself said the night of his passion, “for his mercy endures forever.”

Thankfully, I don’t hate the Stations of the Cross anymore! And I am recommitted to exploring other Catholic traditions that haven’t penetrated my heart yet. (The key word here is yet.)

This Lent, consider exploring a devotional tradition that has slipped away from our modern lives. Maybe it is the daily Rosary, a particular novena, lectio divina, Eucharistic Adoration, or Stations of the Cross. Maybe it is recommitting to the practice of fasting and abstinence. Maybe it is answering that question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” in a way that allows real commitment to journey with Christ in the desert.

Our Catholic Church is rich in so many traditions, and we are blessed to have God working in our hearts in so many ways.

A Walk of Mercy: The Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross can be purchased on Proceeds for the book go to the Garden of Mercy at Divine Mercy Parish in Faribault, MN.

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The Jewish-Christian relationship, 50 years after ‘Nostra Aetate’

December 3, 2015


Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker of Mount Zion Temple, St. Paul, gave the following remarks Dec. 2 at a banquet at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel commemorating the 50th Anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council.

If you stand in front of Notre Dame in Paris and gaze up, you will see below the famous gargoyles and among the many sculptures, two particular figures in prominence, one on the left and one on the right of the main entrance to the cathedral. Synagoga and Ecclesia.

Synagoga representing the Jews is a female figure that is bent, with a broken staff symbolic of a broken covenant. In contrast is Ecclesia, also a female figure, representing Christianity that is upright and triumphant.

I mention this because when I first saw Notre Dame as a kid in 1982 it was in a context of harmony between Catholics and Jews. I never saw those sculptures as anything but history. That is the remarkable legacy of “Nostra Aetate” and the paradigm shift it ushered in for the relationship between Catholics and Jews, and Catholics to Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus and eventually to all interfaith dialogue.

Rabbi Adam Spilker

Rabbi Adam Spilker

In the Jerusalem Talmud we are taught, “Upon three things the world rests: upon justice, upon truth, upon peace. And the three are one, for when justice is done, truth prevails, and peace is established.” In a world sorely in need of all three, it is important to celebrate an area where justice to the Jewish people was done and truth and peace became possible between Catholics and Jews.

No institution is an island and immune to changing times. When an institution as immense as the Catholic Church makes any change, it is done with considerable thought and prayer. Without addressing its many dimensions and manifold perceptions, I stand here tonight to praise the Catholic Church for a decision in 1965 that ushered in a remarkable new era for the Jewish people. For Jews used to taunts of being called “Christ-killers,” the power of this Vatican statement was breathtaking.

In many ways, 1965 captured decades of growing relations. In St. Paul, contributions for the beautiful cathedral that graces our skyline and is now over 100 years old, came from many people outside of the Catholic community including Jews. This parallels the funding of my own congregation, Mount Zion’s third building on Holly and Avon Streets finished in 1903 that came from across Minnesota from Catholic, Protestant and Jew alike. St. Paul with its more Catholic milieu than Minneapolis was in general more accepting of the Jewish community.

Protestant Christian churches did take their cue from the Catholic Church but it took longer. My congregation has a dialogue with a Lutheran Church, Gloria Dei, which is part of the ELCA. The ELCA did not come up with a parallel statement on clarifying history about Jesus’ death and the relationship with the Jewish people until 1994.

I remember celebrating the 25th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate” when I was given the opportunity to teach a partial credit “Jewish-Christian Relations” class at Duke University with my friend Ted Smith who became a Presbyterian minister. As students we were given the ability to design a class to be taught to our peers. When we decided to put together the class, it was at a high point for Christian-Jewish relations in America. There were biennial national conferences attended by hundreds of scholars, clergy and laity which I had the fortune of attending in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Connecticut. Today the interfaith landscape is more diverse and complex but thankfully still strong in some parts of the country including here. One teaching from that class I will never forget from Roman Catholic priest Raimondo Pannikar who says that we will never fully know whether the messiah has come or not, that is we will never fully reconcile theological differences. In the meantime, let’s roll up our sleeves and work for justice and peace in our community together.

Religious pluralism should never be taken for granted. Just listen to what some are saying about our brother and sister Muslims in America and around the world. We have a common covenant through Noah that has never been abrogated and we need to honor God by seeing everyone first and foremost as in the image of that God. Interfaith work takes commitment, persistence and trust. And it is essential in our world sorely in need of religious voices of tolerance and peace.

I am grateful for the efforts of the Archdiocese through Father Erich Rutten whom I have had the pleasure of working with over many years now and the partnership that the Minnesota Rabbinical Association has in the JCRC under the wise leadership of Steve Hunegs.

The Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Relations recently hosted a two day conference at the University of St. Thomas to commemorate this 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate.” There I learned from Professor Mary Boys (Union Theological Seminary, New York) about a recently made sculpture that captures the change in Church doctrine. It is in Philadelphia made for the 50th Anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” Synagoga and Ecclesia are situated side by side, both triumphant, Synagoga with a Torah scroll, Ecccesia with a book of the Word, their equal covenants honored. Pope Francis blessed this sculpture during his recent visit. This is the vision of a world redeemed, ancient faiths in partnership. May our understanding across faiths continue to grow in our own community and may God grant us strength to sustain a world of justice, truth, and peace.

Rabbi Spilker has served Mount Zion Temple for the past 18 years. Mount Zion is the oldest Jewish congregation in the Upper Midwest, founded in 1856, and is situated in its third location on Summit Avenue. Rabbi Spilker works with his wife, Cantor Rachel Stock Spilker, the congregation’s first invested cantor, and Rabbi Esther Adler and Cantor Jennifer Strauss-Klein.

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Playing a nun on stage ‘is a blast’

November 23, 2015


Actor Therese Walth gets down as Sister Mary Patrick in the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres' musical "Sister Act." Walth, choral and vocal music director at Hill-Murray School, described the play's spiritual message in an interview with The Catholic Spirit.Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2015

Actor Therese Walth gets down as Sister Mary Patrick in the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ musical “Sister Act.” Walth, choral and vocal music director at Hill-Murray School, described the play’s spiritual message in an interview with The Catholic Spirit. Photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2015

Q & A with Therese Walth

Editor’s Note: Therese Walth, who is the choral and vocal music director at Hill-Murray School in Maplewood, has credits with several local acting companies and often appears on stage at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. She currently has a role as one of the nuns in the convent in “Sister Act” there. Walth, who admitted to being “between the ages of 25-35 (wink),” grew up in Onalaska, Wisconsin, and earned degrees in both music education and musical theater at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Fellow actor Ben Ballentine, Hill-Murray’s theater director (actor name Ben Bakken), invited Walth to apply when the teaching position opened. “He’s been a huge support, and I am so happy to be at Hill-Murray working with him and the fantastic students and staff,” Walth noted. Walth answered questions from The Catholic Spirit via email about her career and her faith.

Q: Acting is job, but you look like you’re having fun on the stage in “Sister Act.” Is the play more fun than work?

A: There are many stressful parts to acting, and some shows are more challenging than others. “Sister Act,” however, is a really fun show to do, and the role of Sister Mary Patrick is a blast. She is so full of God’s grace and life that it’s hard not to have fun when playing her on stage. She gets to laugh a lot, sing and dance and hang out with some pretty awesome women on stage. I would say it is the best kind of work!

Q: Have you had any real-life experience with nuns?

A: I have a great aunt who spent 12 years in a convent as a postulant before deciding not to take orders, and my mother’s side of the family were all raised Catholic. (I’m actually named for St. Therese of Lisieux.) My mother went to Bishop Ryan Catholic School in Minot, North Dakota, so I have heard many stories about nuns as teachers, leaders and awesome human beings. Now through Hill-Murray I work with the wonderful Sister Linda Soler, and have gotten to learn from the Benedictine Sisters of the St. Paul Monastery.

Q: You sing at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Is there a story behind your doing that? Can you talk a bit about your spirituality and prayer life?

A: Although my mother was raised Catholic, she converted to Lutheran when she married my father. My grandfather on my dad’s side was a Lutheran pastor in North Dakota, so I was raised with a very strong Lutheran faith. I first found my love for singing and performing in at my church and was blessed to have very supportive parents. When I moved to the Cities about eight years ago, I was searching for a community that I could worship in. My dad was very good friends with the choir director at Prince of Peace Lutheran, and there I found a loving and supportive community.
I don’t believe that I could be an actor without my belief in God. The talents I have are his. I remember as a 6th grader going to a summer camp and thanking God for my gift of singing and performing and vowing that anytime I sang or performed it was for and because of him.  Acting (and teaching for that matter) has lots of ups and downs. Many times you are rejected simply by how you look in theater, and you never find out why you didn’t get the job. I found that through prayer and a belief in God’s plan for me, I am able to get through the hard times knowing that God is walking with me.

Q: “Sister Act” at the Chan is campy and fun, but do you think it also passes along a spiritual uplift — maybe even a spiritual message — to the audience?

A: The spiritual message that I receive every night from the show is that a truly happy life is not about one person. Many times we feel we need to battle things alone, or we find ourselves fighting for selfish wants like fame or fortune, but when we open ourselves up to the Lord we find we have a deeper purpose, a deeper meaning in life. And that is not through selfish wishes but through community, through love, and through faith.

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County Fairs and Back to School

August 24, 2015

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Tim-ParkerGlastonbury154MuckyBoots-300x225August has a certain rhythm for me; it means the hottest days of the summer, the county fair and preparing to go back to school.

Every August we see the ads: Back to School Sale! Even years after having no children to buy school supplies for, I still have this uncontrollable urge to purchase notebooks and No. 2 pencils! There is something about that anticipation of starting something new and fresh and getting all new notebooks and pens that is so exciting! This year, although I am not going back to school, I am starting a new job. It was such a pleasant and welcoming surprise for me on my first day to find new note pads, pens, paper clips and post it notes on my desk.

August also brings back other memories for me; that of the county fair. Being involved with 4-H, the fair means projects, barns and showing animals. If you didn’t grow up around animals, you may not know much about manure. Let me teach you a few things that this farm girl knows. A lesson I have learned from manure can be used whenever we are starting something new.

As you walk through a barn and collect manure on your boots, you need to be careful not to track that mud and manure into other buildings, whether that is another barn where disease could spread to other animals or your home and clean living spaces. Often, there is a hose or tray filled with water outside of the barn put there just for the purpose of washing off the muck.

The image from Matthew 10:14 come to mind whenever I see this process. “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.” Although not shaking dust exactly, the image of ridding yourself of the muck on your boots before entering into new territory is a good practice.

The anticipation of children starting a new school year fresh is wonderful. I would remind my children that anything is possible! They were starting with a new teacher, new subjects and a new start! Issues from the previous year or school didn’t need to follow them. If last year you struggled with a certain class or classmate, now was the time to set a new tone. This is a lesson I think we all can use as we start new seasons of our life.

Is there any muck that is stuck to your boots that could contaminate a fresh start?

Let’s thoroughly clean the muck from our hearts and minds and start fresh! And just for good measure, buy yourself a new notebook and a No. 2 pencil, too!

* This post was originally posted on WINE: WomenIn the New Evangelization

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For the Forgotten Babies

August 18, 2015



The Grandview Farm Baby Cemetery lies about 2 miles south of Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault Minnesota.  The Cemetery is part of  the Minnesota State Hospital System (most recently called the Faribault Regional Center that operated in Faribault from 1879 until 1998. Once called the School for Idiots and Imbeciles (and later called the Feeble-Minded School) in times when we had little sensitivity to the labels we put on people with disabilities, there are three cemeteries associated with that facility.  Two near the facility and one near a farm that the school operated in the early 1900’s.  Here, in this place with no individual markers, are buried the babies that were either born at the hospital and didn’t survive (Men and women were separated at the hospital but it is rumored that sometimes they did get together and pregnancy happpened) or children who were abandoned and left without identification.  It is also rumored that babies were buried there who were born to local women whom, because of the circumstances of their pregnancy, were too embarrassed or weren’t allowed to bury their children in an established church cemetery.

I went out to look at this cemetery about a month ago because I have been working on the Garden of Mercy at Divine Mercy Parish in Faribault.  This garden is set aside as a place where all who seek mercy can find peace.  A section of the garden is dedicated to children who died either before or after birth for whatever reason whether miscarriage, abortion or illness.  As part of the dedication of the garden this Sunday, August 23, rocks with names of lost children will be placed near the water feature.  Through this healing gesture, parents were asked to name their sometimes unnamed children who lost before birth, may not have been given a name.  Three of the one hundred stones that will be dedicated are mine. Jordan David, Katie Shea and James Kevin.

While compiling the list of names, I came across a request for a memorial stone for “All the Lost Children.”

Like the Unknown Soldier monument, this rock and garden is a spiritual resting place for unwanted children, those who have suffered from abuse or are casualties of war or abortion. The garden is a place of healing for those parents and the parents of children lost to illness or accident no matter at what age because we know as parents, the natural order of things is that we die first.

The garden though is not a place just for memorials.  It is a place of mercy; a living place of love and forgiveness.

Pope Francis has called a Year of Mercy starting December 8, 2015.  In the Bull of Induction for the Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope states that:

As we can see in Sacred Scripture, mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviors that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is, he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.

A blessing and dedication is planned for August 23 after the 10:00 Mass with Bishop Cozzens in attendance. Let us all pray for this place  to be a place of love, forgiveness and comfort to all who seek it and for it to be a place where mercy lives through this jubilee year and beyond.

All are welcome to attend the Mass and dedication.  Information about requesting a memorial stone will be available at the dedication

Divine Mercy Catholic Church is located at 139 Mercy Drive, Faribault Minnesota.

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New priests ‘a dynamic group’

May 30, 2015


Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan is excited about the eight men ordained May 30 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn.

“They’re a very dynamic group and filled with the light of fire for evangelization,” said the rector of St. Paul Seminary, where the were trained. “They have a great desire to reach out to people — that’s certainly timely.”

Ordained by Archbishop John Nienstedt were Fathers Jake Anderson, Byron Hagan, Peter Hughes, T.J. McKenzie, Bruno Nwachukwu, John Powers, James Stiles and Alvaro Perez.

Msgr. Callaghan said. “The Church is blessed to have these men who are filled with the Spirit.”

It was standing-room-only for the ordination Mass at the 2,500-seat Cathedral on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown St. Paul, and the 100-year-old church gleamed in bright sunlight in what Archbishop John Nienstedt called “an occasion of joy and celebration.”

In his homily the archbishop invoked words of wisdom from both Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in offering advice to the new priests. He urged them to “plunge deep” into Christ’s love “and give him him your love in return.”

The archbishop said, “What we offer the people of God is not the gift of ourselves, but the gift of God, of Jesus Christ working through our personalities, flawed at times as they may be.”

As Jesus is immersing himself in them, he told the newly ordained, “. . . never cease tone immersed in the truth of the Gospel, in the truth proclaimed by the Church’s magisterium, as well as in the truth that is found in self-less service to the poor, the sick, the lost, the forgotten, the stranger in our midst. Never put off until tomorrow the needs that come to your attention today, even if it means depriving yourself of something you justly deserve.”

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10 ways Good Pope John still is guiding

May 4, 2015


Just for Today cover“Just for Today” meshes the words of the late Pope John XXIII with the imaginative artistry of illustrator Bimba Landmann in a children’s book that will stir the soul and energize people of faith of any age.

Graphically displayed in type meant for young readers on 34 pages across Landmann’s creative scenes, Good Pope John’s 10 ideas for living a better, holier life can become a meaningful morning prayer for young people, especially, for example, first communicants.

As a seven-year-old making his first communion, Angelo Roncalli declared, “I want always to be good to everyone.” When he went on to become pope, the 10 thoughts for daily living that he wrote became well known, valued as much for the humility inherent in them as for the down-to-earth advice they offered.

The daily decalogue of now St. Pope John XXIII is worth finding on the Internet and taping to your bathroom mirror to start your day in a saintly way.

Here is just one example:

“Just for today, I will do at least one thing I do not enjoy, and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.”

It’s another fine edition from the Eerdmans Book for Young Readers collection.

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Coming Home – a Holy Thursday Reflection

April 2, 2015



Photo ~ Justin Stroh

Coming Home

When I was in college I would take weekend trips home about every other month.  These trips included the usual dirty laundry to be washed and a chance for some good food and time with my parents and sisters. As great as these things were, their was always something more that I experienced when I would walk through those doors.  It was this overwhelming feeling of coming home.

Despite the strain of school or the drama of my peers or the nagging uncertainty of what the future held, when I walked through those doors I knew I had nothing more important to do than just be.

Maybe it was a feeling of unconditional love. Maybe it was the feeling that someone else was in charge and I didn’t have to worry. Maybe it was the feeling of being loved for who I am and not what I could achieve on my report card or on the sports field. I can’t really pinpoint what exactly that feeling was, but you know it when you feel it.

Twelve years ago I attended my first Holy Thursday Mass.  I had recently come back to my faith, or I should say discovered it for the first time.  It might be surprising that a cradle Catholic had never attended a Holy Thursday Mass, but I am sure I am not the only one who has missed this beautiful liturgy. After being hit by the Holy Spirit and hungry to learn more about this new found love, the church, my pastor encouraged me to attend the entire Triduum.

I was overcome by the Mass.  I can’t recall any one specific detail except that it felt like coming home.  It felt like being away at college and making that trip back home. Everything just seemed to fit.

As I left the Mass I spoke with the pastor about this feeling of coming back home. I can only wonder if he thought I was a crazy woman – comparing this liturgy to a weekend trip home from college but he seemed excited at my interest.  He eagerly shared with me an Encyclical I should read and said “I’ll see you tomorrow!”

The church is our home- the church belongs to all of us.  It is a place where we are loved unconditionally. It is a place where we can rely on God to be in charge.  It is a place where we can grow and be loved for who you are. It is our home.  It leads us to our eternal home and it is the closest we can get on this side of the veil.

If you haven’t been home for a while – Come home!

Holy Thursday is also a time where we celebrate the institution of the priesthood.   I always reflect on the priests who have helped me on my journey on this day.  After all, without them I may never had found my way home.

Today, say a prayer for the priests in your life that have been instrumental in your faith journey home.


Sharon also writes for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization. Find her at WINE:Women in The New Evangelization

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