January 30th – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Peace of Christ. This month of January for me has felt very different, in that there have been a number of weekends in which I have been absent from the Sunday Mass schedule. I was quarantined the weekend of January 16, due to a positive COVID test (thankfully, it was only mild symptoms and I’m doing just fine!). These last weekends of January I had previously committed to assisting with young adult retreats (BrewCity Catholic Winter Weekend and a silent retreat at CYE in Door County). While the Lord is at work in a beautiful way during these weekends, I deeply miss not being present. Know that I have really missed you and you have had my prayers!
This April, the Healing the Whole Person retreat will be coming to Milwaukee. Holy Apostles Parish in New Berlin is graciously hosting this seminar from Thursday, April 7 -Saturday, April 9. Please see the article in the next column for more details! I first attended this retreat as a priest when it was last in Milwaukee in February 2020. I also had the privilege of participating in a similar workshop for priests last year. In all sincerity, the Lord worked more powerfully in these retreats than in any other retreat I’ve been on in my life -and at this point, I’ve been on a lot! I am deeply convicted of the work of Dr. Bob Schuchts and Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT, who are the retreat leaders. I pray that you might be open to attending! I wish I could fully describe the peace and freedom in the Lord that is offered.
Our second reading this Sunday offers us the simple reminder that “love never fails”. Indeed, our God who is love never fails to constantly seek us out. He desires your freedom, your healing, your salvation. I pray with all my heart that we might be ever more open to receive it -in April, at Healing the Whole Person, at today’s Mass or at our next moment in prayer.
Sincerely, with love,
January 23rd – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Praised be Jesus Christ!
As we gather to worship this weekend, we do so with heavy hearts, remembering as we do that the Church in the United States commemorates this Saturday, January 22 as the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children and remembers all those children whose lives have been ended by abortion.
In so doing, we also beg God for an end to this most painful reality and pray for the conversion and healing of all those wounded by the abortion industry, and a flourishing in America of a culture of life.
As Saint Paul reminds the Church in our Second Reading proclaimed at Mass this weekend:
“But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”
As our country marks yet another tragic anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, we pray this weekend both for a greater protection for human life, from conception to natural death, and a greater love for human life, especially for those children who remain most vulnerable and without any legal protection.
At Old St. Mary, we are blessed to have received a new statue this past fall that makes manifest this most remarkable truth: The Son of God took on flesh within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Placed outside in front of the Rectory of Old St. Mary, this statue of Our Lady has been crafted with a clear womb, inviting us to gaze upon the Child that was conceived within the sanctuary of her womb.
If the littlest part suffers, then we suffer too and thus recommit ourselves to building up a culture of life! If the littlest part is honored, if life is cherished, loved and protected, then we share in this greatest gift of joy!
And in the words of Bishop Donald J. Hying, of the Diocese of Madison, last May 7, 2021, in his Statement on Archbishop Cordileone’s Pastoral Letter:
“May we all have a deep conversion to the love and practice of the universal moral law which God has written upon the human heart. The flourishing of the common good, the spiritual health of our society and our very future as a country depend on it.”
May God have mercy on us all!
Very truly yours,
Fr. Michael Malucha
January 16th – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.” (Cardinal John Henry Newman)
Having celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we finish the Christmas season and head into Ordinary Time, knowing that Christ’s Baptism is both an affirmation of our human dignity and a challenge to bring that dignity to our faulty and fallen world.
We have so much work to do, and in the exhaustion of a pandemic our efforts seem anemic at times. We can never do enough, and what little we do accomplish to make the world a just, more compassionate, more peaceful and healthy place of dignity for all seems rather flat. I find the devil loves to make us seem inadequate, and at fault.
This Sunday’s Gospel about the wedding feast at Cana is one of my favorites. Mary our Mother is the heroine—convincing her Son that at this beginning of His public ministry he does not have to get the major work done. The Crucifixion is chapters away. Mary, in her consistent and insightful intuition seems to be saying just do something kind for this poor couple in an embarrassing moment of ill-planning. (They should have checked the wine order!)
Start small with kindness in small ways and the big accomplishments will come. The important thing is do something. As St. Paul notes in the second reading, everyone has something to offer. Do it now. The chance to change the world could come in one small act, much like the miracle at Cana eventually leads to the Cross, and the blood that flows like wine becomes our lifeblood for the sake of the world.
Sincerely, with love,
January 9th – The Baptism of the Lord
Peace of Christ. The Baptism of the Lord which we celebrate this weekend marks the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. Perhaps this “shift” liturgically is also mirrored in our daily life as many of us are returning to school or the office after taking vacation. Even if travel or family plans were disrupted this year, I pray that this Christmas Season has still been one of peace and rest.
On behalf of Fr. Tim, Fr. Michael, and our Pastoral Associate, Chad Griesel, I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped to make our Christmas liturgies so beautiful. Thank you to our Liturgists Mary Robinson and Meggie Moyer, along with our choir and musicians for the gift of such wonderful music! Thanks to our Director of Maintenance, Steve Altman, our sacristans, and volunteers who helped to decorate the churches. Please know that all your efforts (often unseen!) are very much noticed and appreciated! So many were more than generous by sending cards and gifts to us priests — please know how humbled we are by your kindness.
The Preface of today’s Mass directs our prayer to the gift of faith given to us in Jesus Christ. “…so that through the voice that came down from heaven we might come to believe in your Word dwelling among us”. This gift of faith begins for us on the day of our own Baptism and grows throughout our life in a hidden, mysterious, yet powerful way. How different our world might look like if daily we reverenced this divine life present in our spouses, children, co-worker, friend and the poor! Though the season of Ordinary Time which we now begin is marked by a certain simplicity, I pray that we might be open to the ways God wants to quietly see this gift of faith grow. Know of our prayers and support always!
Sincerely, with love,
January 2nd – The Epiphany of the Lord
Dear Friends in Christ,
As a Church, we are privileged to be able to live and to pray our liturgical year in a festive way. What a beautiful invitation, then, is it for us Catholics to ring in the New Year, not only with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, celebrated on January 1, but also the Epiphany of Our Lord, celebrated today, January 2, at Holy Mass in our Family of Four parishes.
In the Epiphany, the Church remembers and rests not just in one mystery, but three: the Adoration by the Magi of the Infant King, the Baptism of our Lord, and Our Lord’s first miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana, where water was transformed into wine, each of which manifest the divinity of the Son of God.
So, quite the festive way to ring in the New Year, especially as our Christmas Season continues for yet another week, concluding with the unique commemoration of Our Lord’s Baptism next weekend.
Perhaps over these days of the Christmas season, some of us have returned to classic holiday films. And at the risk of sounding like our Pastor, Fr. Tim, who seems always to be reminding Fr. John and me about someone called “Ethel Merman,” one such favorite film of mine to watch at this time of year is The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), starring Bing Crosby as Fr. O’Malley and Ingrid Bergman as Sr. Mary Benedict.
At the film’s end, we hear both Fr. O’Malley and the Sisters of St. Mary’s sing together these words:
“Oh, Bells of St. Mary’s, we always will love you, with your inspiration, we never will fail. Your chimes will forever bring sweet memories of you, so proudly ring out while we sing out, hail, hail, hail!”
Within our four parishes, we are blessed to have our very own Bells of St. Mary’s that continue to ring out here in the city of Milwaukee. The bells of a church should raise our hearts and our minds to God. They call us home, not just to sweet memories, but to a lived relationship with the Lord in His Church.
Our bells of St. Mary’s were blessed, in part, with the moving words of this most profound prayer:
O Christ, the almighty Ruler! As thou didst once calm the stormy sea when awakened in the boat from the sleep of thy human nature, so too hasten to the necessities of thy people, and pour forth upon this bell the dew of thy Holy Spirit. Whenever it rings, may the spirit of evil depart, may the Christian people practice their faith, may Satan’s power over them be stricken, and may they be strengthened in the Lord as they worship together.
What a beautiful prayer for each of us, our families and our parishes, to offer as we ring in this New Year, 2022, while yet its blessings, challenges, joys and sacrifices remain unknown to us this weekend.
Even more so, then, do our church bells invite us to live the practice of our faith more deeply this New Year. With the inspiration of Our Lord and in His Church, truly we never will fail, whatever 2022 holds.
On behalf of Fr. Tim, Fr. John and our entire parish staff, a most blessed New Year to each and to all!
Very truly yours,
Fr. Michael Malucha