Monday, November 21, 2016

December 2016 Bulletin:
Thanksgiving Reflections

Chaplain's column from the December 2016 bulletin, online now.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday that recalls the Pilgrims who sailed from the old world to the new world on the Mayflower around 1620.  These devout Christians were Protestants seeking to live their faith as their consciences directed them, formed primarily by the Bible.

Too often in the old world of Europe, Catholic and Protestant kings and leaders alike would oppress those who chose not to believe the entirety of what their leaders believed.  Instead of entering into dialogue centered on the Natural Law, the Ten Commandments and Jesus Christ and his Beatitudes, these various factions began to fight and seek political hegemony.

This occurred in Catholic Europe before the Protestant Reformation of 1517, and at times “Catholic” emperors would imprison or exile Popes and Bishops.  Some people truly wanted to live the Christian life different from the prevailing culture, but instead of leaving their culture they became salt and light for their culture.

The most prominent figure is St. Francis of Assisi.  He found common ground with most people based on the Ten Commandments and the person of Jesus Christ, but he lived out the Beatitudes with a new dynamism.  His religious order attracted lay people to this spirituality and a Third Order for lay people continues today.  There are many other religious communities that have different charisms that have provided salt and light for our flagging Christian culture.

Another example of pluralism within Catholicism is the fact that there are over twenty different Catholic Rites.  We belong to the Latin Rite, but there are the Eastern Catholic Rites, including the Byzantine Rite, Coptic Rite and Marionite Rite.  Each Catholic Rite has the same essential beliefs, elements and rituals, but different ways of expressing them and governing them on a local level.  However, all of them are united to the Pope.

“E PLURIBUS UNUM” is minted on our money to remind we Americans that “from many, one” is a reality that we must live to flourish.  Also written on our money “IN GOD WE TRUST”, our National motto, to remind us from whom we came, and to whom we are ultimately accountable. 

Most everyone knows that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492, but many do not know that he was a devout Catholic and had the youngest ship hands pray the “Ave Maria” (Hail, Mary) every half hour since they were in charge of keeping time with the hour glass.

Hennepin County, MN; Marquette, MI; Joliet, Illinois; these names have memorialized Catholics like Fr. Hennepin who named the St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, and Fr. Marquette and fellow explorer Louis Joliet who explored the upper Mississippi River.

George Calvert, a convert to Catholicism, was the first Lord Baltimore who founded a new colony which he named “Maryland”, not after the reigning earthly queen, but after the Queen of Heaven.  His son, Cecil, the second Lord Baltimore established it and in 1649 the State passed Lord Baltimore’s famous Toleration Act, which guaranteed all colonists religious freedom.  There were moves by opponents to keep Catholics from political office, but the truth prevailed.  For this heritage, let us be vigilant and thankful to God.  God bless America and our Catholic Church.

Fr. Thomas McCabe

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016 Bulletin:
Faith-Based Friendships

Lead article from the November 2016 bulletin, online now.

I’ve watched as my daughter has grown up and how some of her very best friends as a little girl have disappeared completely from her social circle.  It’s interesting because, with some, I could see the conflicting personalities at a young age while there are others who came as a surprise.  As she gets closer to leaving our home and venturing out on her own, my wife and I have some very interesting conversations on what advice we can still give to her.  The topic of friends came up recently, and it really got me thinking about the role they play in our lives.

As a kid your friendships are built around what you did in the past and what you are doing now.  You met your friend because you had something in common (you lived close, were in the same class, your parents knew each other, etc.).  These friendships can last for a long time but eventually if you don’t have the same outlook for the future those friendships start to dwindle.  When you start thinking about the person you want to be, we find that certain friends no longer have so much in common with us.  Personally I find it hard to maintain many of the friendships from my life prior to becoming a faithful man.  It’s nice to reconnect with an old friend and reminisce about the past, but it quickly becomes obvious that our friendship is only tied to the past, and we are more different then we are alike.  Those friendships never go away, but they aren’t the ones that drive you to be a better person.  The friendships you truly value are those that share the same values as you and help you be the person you want to be.  Those friends for me are the ones I’ve developed through the church.  We have different pasts and do different things in the present but we share the same ultimate goal in life.  That goal is to get ourselves and our families into Heaven.  These are friends I can ask for advice on anything and know that if I ever needed them they would be there to support me.  If life sent us to different ends of the world I know that those friendships would not go away.

So my advice to my daughter is to always maintain faith-based friendships no matter where life takes you.  Other friends are great and very important but those friendships created around your faith will always hold you up and never let you forget about your true goal in life.

God Bless, 
Joe VanHoorik
Grand Knight