Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 2018 Bulletin:
The Catholic Tent

Lead article from the December 2018 bulletin, online now.

As Catholics, we get up on Sunday, morning, get dressed and make our way to Mass. It could be in Albertville, St. Michael or anywhere else on the planet. We come to give thanks. We come to seek direction. We come to acknowledge the beliefs we hold dear. Our lives may be running like a finely tuned sports car as we listen to the homily. We are doing what we think is natural and good. We see all around us in church our friends and other familiar faces. We see role-model leaders who receive special blessings and gifts allowing them to rise in order to give practical proof that what we strive for can be done. We see great marriages based on love and faith. We see those who hold a secure and steady job over the years creating comprehensive family stability. Our priests articulate our Catholic beliefs during Mass and explain to us how to live out the faith.

We all then walk back through those same church doors into our cars and smack headlong into something called the human condition---the sometimes harsh, on-the-ground, real-life week to come. There are those whose lives are not running like a finely tuned sports car. Theirs are more like an old beat-up Chevrolet overdue for a tune-up. Their marriages may be neglected and weakened. Their kids may not be burdened with seamless transitions into the teenage years. Many have to work their butts off to get Bs. They may be struggling with poverty, unemployment, addiction or severe health issues, physical or psychological. Any fill-in-the-blank human condition reality. No one leaving Mass on Sunday is immune from these possible predicaments including our leaders and priests.

It's important that we hold this truth close, lest we fall into an idealized fiction we cannot reach. The saints are among those we hold most dear. They are great examples of those who were able to overcame the world by lifting their faith in Christ above all. Their stories are replete with how they were able to meet and defeat the human condition through faith. Their sufferings in some cases were beyond our imaginations. Many of their stories seem idealized and beyond credulity. One thing we know for sure is they all had to live within that same condition.

I am a fair distance from the starting line to sainthood, let alone the finish, and would think myself foolish and pretentious to believe I could be close. One interesting observation in my limited study of the saints is that very many of them chose a life of solitude versus settling down and having a load of kids, a bunch actually leaving arranged marriages to give all to Christ. (Just saying....somebody should write a book about this.)

Let's remember this Christmas to pray for all who are struggling and remember that they sit in the same pews that we do every Sunday. It is true that the Catholic tent is filled with strong families. It is no less true that there are many families who struggle. Most I suspect are mired in the middle (my family included). One thing is for sure, the answers for all families can be discovered in Christ within the walls of their local Catholic Church. Merry Christmas to everyone.

God bless,

Gary Frandsen
Grand Knight

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

November 2018 Bulletin: Prayers for Our Leaders

Lead article from the November 2018 bulletin, online now.

November 6th is mid-term election day. The political climate is stormy. The rhetoric on both sides is extreme. We are all getting crushed with political ads on radio and TV. Some crazy is sending "apparently" fake pipebombs to political figures. It's wild out there.

Those who know me know exactly where I stand on President Trump. To say I am a enthusiastic supporter would be an understatement. He has been under attack from the Washington political establishment since the day he was elected. Including talk of impeachment on the very day of his election. Both left and right. His personality and style has been thoroughly and comprehensively criticized, (some of it justified).

I for once don't have to wonder about the skeletons in our president's closet because they are doing the "twist" dance all about the room. We also don't have to sort through the passive - aggressive sophistry and platitudes associated with previous administrations. We are constantly told he is a "divider" not a "uniter". Nonsense I say. Most historians view Lincoln as the most "uniting" of all the presidents. Only one problem, 500,000 Americans including Lincoln himself had to die before we could unite. Talk of uniting our politics has been going on for over 250 years. Politicians have been throwing mud at each other since the mid 18th century. History clearly shows that it was much more politically polarized and aggressive then, than now. Maybe sometime in the future, politicians will figure out how to get along and enact the policies that we want in a bi-partisan way. Clearly, we are not there yet.

The unfortunate truth in Washington DC is that when you have power you need to use it in order to enact legislation that fits with your constituency. It has ALWAYS been that way. Naive idealistic politicians are of very little practical use in Washington DC. They are ignored in congress and languish accomplishing nothing and never get appointed to any meaningful committee positions. I think Trump is a cool rush of fresh air sweeping through Washington D.C. I don't agree with all of his tweets. I don't agree with all of his rhetoric. However, I do forgive him his defense of himself considering the anti Trump onslaught. We are all sinners are we not? He's no exception to the human condition. I pray for him all the time.

It is true that we need to unite, we need to unite in terms of the issues of the day, the most important of which is the issue of life. No president in my lifetime has done more for this issue than president Trump. Most if not all the politicians we support because of the issues we hold dear, not their personality. No matter what you think of our president, please look at your local politicians and senators and congressman and please get out and vote the issues. I know that if a politician get the life issue correct, he or she is going to be right on just about everything else. These are my beliefs and my beliefs only. Forgive me if I stepped on any toes.

God bless.

Gary Frandsen
Grand Knight

Monday, October 8, 2018

October 2018 Bulletin: Cultivate Fraternity to Remain Strong

Lead article from the October 2018 bulletin, online now. It was originally published by past Grand Knight Steve House and is as true today as it was when this was written in 2011. God bless, Gary Frandsen, Grand Knight

Brother Knights, 

In our fallen world, Catholics are often called upon to be counter-cultural, to “go against the grain” of our secular world. The forces arrayed against the faithful are formidable. Satan prowling the world looking to devour us is bad enough, but consider that many other mainline Christian denominations are not aligned with the Church on abortion:
  • Mormons allow exceptions for rape, incest, risk to the mother, and severe birth defects. 
  • The Episcopal Church similarly allows for those exceptions.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention allows the exception for risk to the mother. 
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church allows exceptions for risk to the mother and severe birth defects. 
And, don’t walk into any Catholic Church and believe you’re all .singing from the same hymnal. Just this week the Star Tribune article regarding the Archbishop’s call for parish action on the 2012 Minnesota marriage amendment, noted that the archdiocese has many “diverse” parishes and parishioners—meaning, I suppose, that many Catholics are out of step with the Magisterium on these fundamental topics. All of this is no surprise to any of us who pay even slight attention to the world around us. 

Being counter-cultural can indeed be a daunting prospect for Catholic men. The moral responsibilities of honesty, fidelity and chastity are difficult compared to the ease of going along with the world and its values. That’s where the men of St. Michael and St. Albert parishes can take heart that they are not alone, that organizations such as the Knights of Columbus offer a brotherhood that promotes love (charity), fidelity to the Magisterium (unity), and moral support (fraternity). In addition, we have various men’s faith-sharing groups, the Man Night events and the Archdiocesan Men’s Conference.

Brothers, avail yourselves of these opportunities to support one another in the daily struggle for holiness, for yourself and your families. You need those other men, and they need you!