Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 2014 Bulletin:
Work, Pray, Love

Lead article from the November 2014 bulletin, online now

So this month I took the easy way out and found an article that I thought was appropriate with the elections coming up and  with what has happened the last few years in society.

Work, Pray, Love: Archbishop Chaput's advice for modern Christians

“Religious believers should acknowledge that they are now 'strangers' in U.S. society, in part because of their own failures, but should nevertheless work for renewal and worship God with joy”, said Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

“Our job is to be the healthy cells in a society.  We need to work as long as we can, as hard as we can, to nourish the good that remains in our country – and there’s a deep well of good that does remain – and to encourage the seeds of a renewal that can only come from our young people.”

Archbishop Chaput’s comments came in his Oct. 20 Erasmus Lecture, a webcast event sponsored by First Things Magazine and the Institute on Religion in Public Life.

“We should hope because God loves us.  And that’s more than an empty piety,” the archbishop said.  “The proof of it is sitting right next to you in the friends who believe, as you do, in the goodness that still resides in American life, and who want to fight for it.  In Christian belief, God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The world changed.”

“Our job is to echo his Word by helping our witness become flesh in the structures, moral imagination and bloodstream of the world around us,” he added.  “If that happens, the world will change again.”

The archbishop reflected on the many changes in American society.  The title of his speech, “Strangers in a Strange Land,” alluded to the estrangement of religious believers who “once felt rooted in their communities” but now feel “like strangers, out of place and out of sync in the land of their birth.”

He said “the biggest failure, the biggest sadness, of so many people of my generation, including parents, educators and leaders in the Church, is our failure to pass along our faith in a compelling way to the generation now taking our place.”

“If we want to change the culture of a nation, we need to begin by taking a hard look at the thing we call our own faith.  If we don’t radiate the love of God with passion and courage in the example of our daily lives, nobody else will – least of all the young people who see us most clearly and know us most intimately.”

“But the real problem in America in 2014 isn’t that we believers are foreigners.  It’s that our children and grandchildren aren’t.”

Archbishop Chaput stressed the importance of worship and the adoration of God as more important than action.

“We are a people of worship first, and action second,” he said.  There is no real political action or social service “unless it flows out of the adoration of God.”

“Adoration grounds our whole being in the real reality: the fact that God is God, and man is his creation,” he said.

Christians forget at their peril that they are “in the world but not of the world,” he continued.

Citing the French writer Henri De Lubac, the archbishop said that “when the world worms its way into the life of the Church, the Church becomes not just a caricature of the world, but even worse than the world in her mediocrity and ugliness.”

Archbishop Chaput criticized several other trends in the U.S., where he said freedom is “more and more” constrained.

Freedom has been defined as the maximization of personal choice, especially through modern technology.  Democracy and government has also become an expression of consumer preference, with “very little space for common meaning, classic virtue or shared purpose.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Oct. 6 refusal to hear state appeals defending marriage amendments “creates a tipping point in American public discourse,” he said.  “The dismemberment of any privileged voice that biblical belief once had in our public square is just about complete.”

The archbishop said that the “most disturbing” aspect of the marriage debate was “the destruction of public reason that it accomplished.”

“Emotion and sloganeering drove the argument,” he said.  “People who uphold a traditional moral architecture for sexuality, marriage and family have gone in the space of just 20 years from mainstream conviction to the media equivalent of racists and bigots.”

“This is impressive. It’s also profoundly dishonest and evil, but we need to acknowledge the professional excellence of the marketing that made it happen.”

Hope you enjoyed the article, and God bless,

Jim Wiegers
Grand Knight

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 2014 Bulletin: The Tree of Life

Lead article from the October 2014 bulletin, online now.

A few weeks back I had the pleasure to hang out with two other Knights and a wife of one them.  We had good conversation and some very good home brew.  We somehow got onto the topic of our faith and how we explain it to friends or acquaintances from other denominations.

The one way that caught my attention was by referring to the Tree of Life to help explain why we believe in our faith.  As you probably already know, in Catholic Christianity, the Tree of Life represents the immaculate state of humanity free from corruption and original sin before The Fall.  Pope Benedict XVI has said that "the Cross is the true Tree of Life."  Saint Bonaventure taught that the medicinal fruit of the Tree of Life is Christ Himself.  Saint Albert the Great taught that the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, is the Fruit of the Tree of Life.

I may have missed some of the details so I hope they forgive me if I misquote. But here is how she explained it to others that I found interesting: The roots are from Jesus and his teaching deep in the ground and strong.  Then you have our Catholic Faith like the trunk sturdy and strong firmly attached to the roots.  Attached to the trunk you have branches which would be like other Christian religious like Lutheran, Protestants, which have some of the same beliefs but can become damaged and fall from the trunk.  From those branches you get to the leaves which are like Bob’s church—they pop up and fall off to the ground and other leaves grow in its place, loosely tied to roots, and trunk of the tree.  I thought that was a really good way to explain our faith and how attached we are to the roots, Jesus.

This is a good way to communicate to others without offending them or their religion for as you know to have a tree you need all these parts and we are all striving to know our God the Father better.

God bless,
Jim Wiegers

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
-- Hebrews 12:28-29

Friday, August 29, 2014

September 2014 Bulletin:
Rectory Project Update

The new rectory, nearing completion

Lead article from the September 2014 bulletin, online now. For a history of the rectory project in photos, "like" the St. Michael Catholic Church Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stmcatholicchurch.

It is with great joy that I update you on the status of the rectory project.  Last year at the St. Michael Fall Festival, our Council officially kicked off the rectory campaign, launching this bold initiative. So at the one year anniversary of the project, I am very excited to report that this year’s Festival will be a significant milestone for the Rectory Building Team. That is to say, as of late August the interior of the rectory will basically be 100% complete and by mid-September the entire landscaping should be completed. So our Council, which has led the construction management, planning, provided many of the contractors, and made a substantial investment in the funding, will be able wind down our involvement in the project.  

The rectory team, including numerous Knights
and past Grand Knights from Council 4174

First and foremost: all credit for the success of the rectory project needs to be given to God. The entire parish placed their faith into the hands of a few to be good stewards of their gifts, and God made sure this project would not fail. Honestly, I am surprised about how few setbacks we experienced Every time an obstacle arose, the team would pray about it, and in no time the issue would be resolved.  

Personalized pavers from donors
 lead up to the steps
When we launched the project last September, we hoped to break ground in late fall if we could find a way to fund the initial $120,000. After that we would hope for mild weather so we could have contractors work through the winter. When we did not reach our funding goal to begin construction in the fall, we worried if we could raise enough money to even start the project. We prayed a Novena to St. Joseph, and then it happened: an anonymous donor stepped forward and offered a matching grant of $10,000 to get the ball rolling.  So at the beginning of Advent we began the paver campaign.  As Christmas and New Year’s neared, God answered our prayers again.  Actually, He kind of tidal-waved our prayers!  At New Year’s Eve, John Bonham, fellow Knight and Parish Administrator, worked late into the evening entering paver contributions for the end of the year donations, which exceeded the expectations. Then, just to make sure we understood the project was in God’s hands, we had one of the longest winters in years. We were so fortunate not to have started in the late fall. Every time something came up, we gave it to God in our prayers, and He worked it out.

As construction began, everyone on the Building Team felt responsible to make sure we were good stewards of the generous donations. We wanted to make sure the parish would feel a sense of ownership and pride in what they created.

The altar in the rectory chapel

We wanted to make sure, like our magnificent churches, the rectory would inspire as well. Through the dedication of Rectory Team members, our Council 4174, the St. Henry’s council, contractors, benefactors, parishioners, and much of the surrounding community, the rectory really is a beautiful home. St. Michael Catholic Church has a long history of inspiring architectural work and has believed that the beautiful designs help us all draw deeper into the mystery of the Trinity and Heaven. The council can rest assured that the rectory will follow that tradition.  While the entire interior of the home is absolutely beautiful, the centerpiece of the home is the chapel. At the center of our Catholic identity is the Eucharist and so there is no better expression we could give our priests than to provide a magnificent chapel in which our Lord will be present in the Eucharist. This chapel will help draw our priests’ hearts and minds deeper into the mystery of God. 

This year as a council, our participation at the Fall Festival will be to give tours to the parish so they can see the fruits of so many people’s resources and prayers and the home we built. We will have council members acting as guides. I encourage every council member to come and see what you have helped create. I also need about 15 men to help us with tours.  If you’re interested, at the end of this article is contact information for Jim Shovelain. If you want to help, please email him.

By the time this article reaches the majority of you, the building of the rectory will be nearly complete. On behalf of the Rectory Team, I want to express our gratitude for all of your support. So many people made this project a success, but most certainly the project would not have happened without the strong support of the council. As a council, I hope each and every one of you feels a sense of accomplishment as we prepare to turn over all aspects of the rectory project to the parish. For it truly has been a home built by the Grace of God.

To help at the Fall Festival tour booth, please email Jim Shovelain at shovelain@juno.com.

In Christ,
Mike Engel
Dei Dome Gratia Project Lead
Past Grand Knight