January 20, 2019 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Tuesday, January 22, the Church in the United States observes the annual “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” This day is set aside to pray for the legal protection of human life and to do penance for the violations to human dignity through abortion. Since the 1973 decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, over 56 million abortions have taken place in our country. I would ask that you please observe this day through prayer and penance.
If you are not aware already, one of Milwaukee’s abortion clinics exists near our Family of Four Parishes – Affiliated Medical Service, located near the corner of Farwell Ave & Ogden Ave. In a particular way, we pray for all of the lives lost in abortion at the clinic, for both the mothers and the fathers of the babies, and for the conversion of the medical personnel and volunteers who staff the clinic.
May the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, in his Evangelium Vitate (The Gospel of Life), ever more be our own: “We are asked to love and honor the life of every man and woman and to work with perseverance and courage so that our time, marked by all too many signs of death, may at last witness the establishment of a new culture of life, the fruit of the culture of truth and of love” (EV, n. 77).
Thanks for all that you are and do, and know of my prayers!
Sincerely, with love,
January 13, 2019 – The Baptism of the Lord
Dear Friends in Christ,
As I began my assignment here in the Family of Four parishes this past summer, it was both an exciting moment, but also a little scary. Why? Because in many ways, it was a realization that my life is already one third of the way over. The principal time of my education/formation is over, and now is the time for my living out my vocation as a diocesan priest here in Milwaukee.
I share this, because our celebration this weekend of the Baptism of the Lord is also an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our own Baptism and the life of faith which we have received. As I began my assignment here, I often found myself looking back on the first third of my life so far and marveling at how God has worked in my life. Not because of anything I have done, but rather, how God has been at work, in spite of me. I have strayed from His commandments at times, been blind to His ways, and have so often failed to recognize God in those closest to me. Yet, I can also look back and see how God’s grace was at work in my life in a very real way, even though I did not recognize it until later on.
In short, as I looked back on this first third of my life that is now over, it was a realization for me of how profoundly different my life was because of my Baptism. The gift of faith, at work in my life in a hidden, yet real way because of my Baptism, was guiding my thoughts, words, and actions. Without Baptism, perhaps my words and actions in the first third of my life things could have been very different and who knows where I would be right now.
Who in my own life gave me the gift of faith? How is the Lord calling me to more deeply live out my Baptism this week? Can I pause this week, and receive God’s love (“This is my beloved Son (or daughter); in whom I am well pleased”)? Questions for your prayer and reflection, as we begin Ordinary Time.
God Bless, Fr John
January 6, 2019 – The Epiphany of the Lord
A few thoughts as we celebrate the Visit of the Magi to the Christ-child here on this Epiphany of the Lord.
First, a big-thank you to everyone who helped to make the prayer of our Christmas liturgies so beautiful! Thanks to Bishop Sklba, Fr. Tom DeVries, and Fr. Joe Juknialis for their help, which they so faithfully give throughout the year. Special thanks to our liturgists, choir members, sacristans, acolytes, lectors, and all those who helped with decorating the churches. Many others gave of their time and talents in hidden ways – both Fr. Tim and myself are so grateful for all of your extra work.
Second, a word of thanks as well for the prayers, cards, and gifts that Father Tim and I received for Christmas. Your kindness means more than you know.
Finally, I share with you the ‘Prayer after Communion’ from today’s Sunday Mass, as I found it particularly beautiful:
Go before us with heavenly light, O Lord,
always and everywhere,
that we may perceive with clear sight
and revere with true affection
the mystery in which you have willed us to participate.
Through Christ our Lord.
May we indeed follow the star, the light that is Jesus Christ, in this next week and always. Blessings to you in these days of the New Year!