This weekend, June 27th and 28th, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis will take up the Peter’s Pence Collection, which provides Pope Francis with the funds he needs to carry out his charitable works around the world. The proceeds benefit the most disadvantaged: victims of war, oppression, and disasters. Join our Holy Father as a witness of charity to those who are suffering.
“Hold on to this rope and whatever you do, don’t let go!” That’s what my friend Nick said to me as he battled to get the little sailboat we had taken out under control. It was my first time at sailing. We were out on the Ohio River near Jeffersonville. What had been a balmy summer day when we started out, all of a sudden the sky turned into sickly cool green storm. All around us we could see other small crafts heading in. I can’t remember why our boat was not responding like it should. Nick was frustrated but he kept his head. He finally managed to flag down a larger boat that towed us to shore. After we had the boat safely tied up he sat down and started shaking. Then he looking up and started to laugh. “Dan, we were in big trouble out there. Aren’t you glad you didn’t know it?!” That’s when I started shaking.
I don’t know whether you’ve ever had boating experience like that or like the one that the disciples were in on the Sea of Galilee, but I’ll bet many of you have been in a situation where, despite all of your skill, your background, your maturity, your experience, you just could not take control of things. You were doing your best and that was not enough.
Maybe a storm hit when you where using all of the study skills that worked for you before but they seemed to be useless in a class you needed for your degree. You felt yourself being swept up in panic. Or the time when a meeting at work erupted into angry accusations. No matter what you said to calm things, the voices got louder and angrier. Or at family gathering when resentment over past hurts, like the eye of the storm, had everybody tensed for more confrontation. Frustrating, frightening situations like these seem to come from nowhere like a summer storm! Times like these not only test our endurance, they test our faith. “God, where are you? Help me! Don’t you care?” we cry out.
That is our greatest fear, I think: that ultimately we’re on our own. That God is asleep; God has stopped listening. That was the disciples’ fear. “Master, don’t you care that we are drowning?” It is the cry of all of us who fear we are alone just when we need God the most. When we have done our utmost and are staring failure in the eye. I think of all the people who have so desperately tried to do something about the violence in our country; people who have worked to prevent mentally unstable people from having access to firearms. “God, where were you when your servants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church were being slain as they meditated on your holy word? Didn’t you care about them? Could you not protect them?”
At this point in the homily I could tell you that God does care and cares deeply. And if I said that I would be speaking the truth. The One who braved the fiercest of soul-storms in the Garden of Gethsemane and bested it is with us, beside us in our crisis But those words mean little until we have discovered the truth of them ourselves. Until then the words, “God cares” are just nice words. How do we find the truth of those words?
First, we stay in the boat. We don’t stop working the oars. We do what we can and trust Jesus to do the rest. Second, we remember that there are edges to the storm. There was a time before our present crisis and there will be a time after. The One who made us is greater than the storm. The One who made us is master of even the greatest storm: death itself. Thirdly, we look around and remember that we are not alone. The folks around us today have been in the same or a similar boat as ours. They, too, have had their stormy weather. And they have called out to the same master of the wind and waves. We are here together as surely as those disciples in the little boat, as sure as the good folks of Mother Emmanuel Church of Charlestown. We pray, we trust, we man the oars of our little church here at 129 West Daisy, and we keep singing.
What though the tempest loudly roar?
I hear the truth it liveth!
What though the darkness ‘round me close?
Songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing!
What is the best way to ensure our parish receives the support needed for our operating expenses and ministries during the busy summer months? eGiving through Faith Direct! Please enroll today by visiting www.faithdirect.net. Our church code is IN585. Increased enrollment with Faith Direct will help stabilize our parish finances during the coming summer months when many families are away on vacation. Thank you for your continued support of our parish family with your time and talents as well as treasure!
God Bless you,
Father Dan and the Pastoral Staff
Dear Friends in Christ,
In a few short weeks we will begin the discernment process for bringing a new member onto our Holy Family Pastoral Council. We will need one person to represent the parish at-large. As your pastor I am very grateful to the current members of our council for all the help they have given me in the past three years. They are men and women who bring the shared practical wisdom of Catholic life as it is lived here in southern Indiana to shaping the vision and direction of our parish.
Have you ever prayerfully considered serving your parish community on the council? Do you know someone who might find it fulfilling to serve the People of God this way? I invite you to read the profile of a pastoral councilor below and give me a call if you want to look further into this way of serving your parish. My cell phone is 812-267-8147.
In Christ, Fr. Dan
What is the Pastoral Council?
The Pastoral Council serves the pastor as a consultative body of men and women who bring the wisdom of their parish to important decisions. The pastor consults the pastoral council to achieve a specific threefold purpose first defined at Vatican II: “to investigate and consider matters relating to pastoral activity and to formulate practical conclusions concerning them” (Vatican II Decree on Bishops, no. 27). The main work of pastoral councils is to aid the pastor in his care of souls by investigating, considering, and draw conclusions about the pastoral activity o f their parish.
What kind of person would find pastoral council ministry fulfilling?
- A person who wants to advise his/her pastor on how better to care for God’s people.
- A person who is comfortable with being a consultant, knowing that decisions are ultimately made by the pastor.
- A person who trusts the pastor and his staff with the implementation of the council’s recommendations once they are accepted by the pastor.
- A person who is reasonably knowledgeable in his/her Catholic Faith, practices it, and understands that our Faith must be applied to the ever-changing situation of the Church and the parish.
- A person who is comfortable in an environment of open and free discussion, based on positive regard for others. “In the essentials unity; in doubtful matters liberty; in all things charity.” St. Augustine
- A person who can work both in voting and consensus situations, especially when a decision affects everybody and when the support of everyone is essential to the decision’s success.
Hello! My name is Deacon James Brockmeier, and I am spending my summer with you here at Holy Family. I am a Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and am from the south side of Indianapolis. I graduated from Marian University, where I was studying to be a high school religion teacher. In my senior year, I began feeling called to the priesthood, a call I had thought quite a bit about when I was a teenager. I have been a Seminarian for the last four years, during which time I have been studying at St. Meinrad. I have had the chance to work with a youth group near St. Meinrad and in Campus Ministry at Bellarmine University. For the last few years I have been managing the Unstable, which is our seminary bar and pizza place. I have a love for the Church, which brings us all together in Christ, and a love for preaching, which I look forward to sharing with you this summer.
Favorite Book: Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
Favorite Movie: Dan in Real Life
Favorite Saint: St. Ignatius of Antioch
Favorite Scripture Passage: John 4:10-14
Hobbies: Fishing, Golf, Sports watching, Movie watching
Pope Francis teaches us: “Poverty calls us to sow hope…. Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick, in those unjust social structures.”
Last week’s request for help from a client with two son’s special events, a birthday and a high school graduation started with: “We got nothing. My 18 year old understands that we are poor, doesn’t like it, but understands. My son who is about to turn 11 though doesn’t understand that we are poor, won’t understand why his friends have birthday parties, but he doesn’t. Please help me!”
And we did – the birthday and graduation cakes had personalized decorations, the 11 year old received his favorite dvd and a new Nintendo game, decorations for both parties, the high school grad received gift certificates from Walmart and the Mall. We sowed hope, enriched the hope with love, and provided light where there was despair just days before.
Thank you for your generosity, especially Shannon, Lorie, Nikki, Karen and Mary!
by Deacon James Brockmeier
It all started with a tree. One of the stories that we are most familiar with from the Bible is the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, and their life of happiness in the garden of Eden, and we hear about the tree that is at the center of the garden, at the center of the whole story really, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And this tree has fruit, but Adam and Eve could not eat of this fruit, this was their one law. And the bible does not say that this fruit is an apple, but that’s what we imagine it to be, but we could image it being a pear or an orange, but I couldn’t see sin being the result of human desire to eat grapefruit, so I think we can rule that out. But regardless of what fruit it was that tempted Adam and Eve, at the center of the creation of the physical world before God created Adam and Eve was a tree. And it all, and by ‘it all,’ I mean our struggle with sin, our toiling for the food we eat, all human conflict, pain, struggle, brother killing brother, it all started with a tree.
And even though that tree is where it all starts we don’t hear from the tree again, we only know its effects. And who knows, maybe Cain unknowingly cut it down to make the weapon that killed his brother. Maybe it was among the trees Noah used to build his Ark, or it was cut and sized to form the arc of the covenant. We can’t trace the history of the tree, but we can trace the history of what happened when Adam ate its fruit. And for the people of Israel, for God’s chosen people, the effects of sin were more of a burden than they could carry.
One of these times was Israel’s slavery in Egypt, forced to do the bidding of the pharaoh, under the regime of a false God, one of whom is Osiris, who was known to the Israelites as the god who spoke from beneath the Oak tree. Enslaved by the will of a tree, a cruel reminder of where their slavery started.
When they were freed from slavery and safe and free in their own land, the leaders of Israel made idols to foreign gods out of the trees of the land, and when the Lord called Israel to atone for those sins they made their place of atonement, their temple, out of the wood of the Cedars of the land.
But Israel was not able to maintain its own freedom for long, as the mighty Assyrians moved into their land, the Assyrians who compared their grandeur to the majestic Cedars of Lebanon: mighty, sturdy, a sign of their divinity. And Israel’s conquerors sent them out of the land into exile in Babylon, by whose rivers the Israelites sat and wept. And when their captors mockingly asked them to play the songs of their land, they hung up their harps on the poplars that grew there.
These trees just keep showing up, reminding them of how it all started.
Unlike the people of Israel, I would dare to say that the burdens of our lives are not all about trees, even though some of them might be about paper. But regardless the effects of that first tree in the garden don’t fail to show up. It shows up in unresolved relationships and unexpected illnesses. It shows up in the lives of children we have watched leave the faith. It shows up in the smaller daily struggles, the struggle to be kind, the struggle to control our meaner impulses toward others. Yes, our sin, our weakness, our struggles are still here. Even though they may not look like those of the Israelites, we share in their suffering from the effects of that first tree.
In our first reading today, the Lord is speaking to Ezekiel about the nations that have taken over Israel. The Lord speaks about the attempts of the foreign nations to plant their authority and power in Israel, so that it might take root and cover the people, but the Lord says, “I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.” The Lord tells Ezekiel that he will plant a new tree.
The Lord promises to plant a new tree, a tree that will be on the highest mountain, a tree whose shade will be enough for birds from the whole world round to live in, a tree that will sustain them with its fruit. This tree will start as the lowliest of trees and will be lifted up to grandeur.
The Lord planted this new tree of life for us, he planted it on the mount of Calvary, he planted the cross, wood worked and shaped into an instrument that held His Son our Lord Jesus Christ, our God’s most tender shoot. The branches, the arms of that tree spread wide to embrace the whole world, and the fruit that hung from that tree, it feeds the whole world. He feeds us and heals us today with that fruit. And we still make our home in the shade of that tree, we still live among its branches, that lowly tree is our Lord.
In the shade of this new tree, our God is planting a new garden. The Lord calls us today to live in the garden of the Kingdom of God, the new and eternal garden of paradise, the garden where the victorious cross is its central plant. And the good news for us is that this garden is present to us here, in New Albany, on our streets and in our schools, at our jobs and in our homes; this garden is our Church.
He calls us to live and worship him in the garden of the Kingdom, and he calls us to go out, to take up God’s work of planting the Kingdom. We are assured by today’s Gospel that we have all that we need. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, we come here today to receive Christ, to grow in faith, to gain these small seeds of faith that we can take and plant in the soil of the world. The Lord wants the whole world to be in His garden, he wants all of the birds of the air, all of the people of the earth, to find a home in the shade of the cross, to be fed from the abundance of its fruit. Like our God who lifts high the lowly tree, we can lift high our seeds of faith and plant them in the world.
Quite a few years ago I bought a collection of Garrison Keillor’s, Praire Home Companion tapes. One of his most thought-provoking monologues, to my mind, is the one in which Keillor describes slaughtering day on the farm. He tells about being a boy of nine or ten, being amazed at the way his father and uncles and men on the adjacent farms would come, joining together in this work. The women, too, had special parts to play in the day. There was an almost reverent, rubric-like quality to their preparation. This particular year, he wandered off with some of his cousins down to the pen where the hogs were kept. He tells how he and the other boys began to throw rocks at one huge animal that they thought was particularly ugly.
Suddenly their sport was interrupted by a great bellow of rage. The boys turned to see one of Keillor’s uncles running toward them, red-faced. “What do you think you’re doing? Do you know what is going to happen to these creatures today? How can you torment them today of all days? Get away! Go think about what you’ve done.” Keillor says that was his first lesson in liturgy. For days afterward he thought about his uncle’s words. It dawned on him that that he had done something deeply offensive to Life and its sacredness. Not by being intentionally malicious, but by being unreflective and callous.
The Benedictine monk and liturgist Aidan Kavanaugh says, “To know Christ sacramentally, only in terms of bread and wine is to know him only partially, in the dining room as host and guest. It is a valid enough knowledge, but its ultimate weakness, when isolated, is that it is perhaps too civil…However elegant the knowledge of the dining room may be, (our meals) begin in the soil, in the barnyard, in the slaughterhouse, amid the quiet violence of the garden, strangled cries, and fat spitting in the pan. Table manners depend on something’s being grabbed by the throat. A knowledge that ignores these dark and murderous human gestes is losing its grip on the human condition.” In other words, when we sit down at the table we must remember that Life must give itself so that there may be new life. Perhaps that is why the Catholic Church has always insisted that a crucifix be place near the altar in our churches.
Brothers and sisters, there are some people today who are fearful and angry that many Catholics seem to have lost a sense of reverence for the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. They insist that we need to recover reverence for the sacramental presence of Christ’s body and blood. Maintaining a respectful silence in church. Restoring the practice of Eucharistic adoration. I share their respect for the presence of Christ in the tabernacle, but like Kavanaugh and Keillor I believe that before we can understand liturgy, before we can reverence the Body and Blood of Christ in sacramental forms of bread and wine we must first learn gratitude for the sacrifice of God hidden in the garden, in the slaughterhouse, and in the sweatshop.
Think for a moment. Think about all the ways in which Life has sacrificed itself so that you and I might be here today. Think about the people who made the shoes and clothes we are wearing. The creatures – plant or animal – that die each week to feed us. Think about those who put up with our pettiness and shortcomings to make a home for us. By their participation in the Great Donation are they not part of the Body and Blood of Christ broken and poured out for us? If this is so, how can we neglect to give thanks before a meal, however small and humble?
On this feast of the Body and Blood Christ, Corpus Christi, let us ask God to help us recognize and reverence the great sacrifice of God, not only here in the liturgy, in His dining room where Christ becomes our food and drink, but in our everyday lives, where he gives himself on the table of all creation. Let us remember to pray, whether we sit down at our dining room tables or in a fast-food restaurant, “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Father Phil Bloom offers us a powerful story for today’s feast of the Blessed Trinity. Florence Chadwick, a world-class swimmer, was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. In 1952 named Florence attempted to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Exhausted she kept swimming, but finally she told her mother who was in a boat next to her that she couldn’t go any further. When they brought her aboard she realized she was just one mile from her destination. Two months later she tried again. The same fog set in but this time she kept swimming. All the while she had been training she kept an image of the California shoreline in her mind. Although equally exhausted she kept going and to great cheering she reached her goal. What a difference it makes if we have an image of our destination in mind!
Does this story explain the mystery of the Triune God. No. We will never understand how three divine persons, unique and distinct, can share being the one and only God. Even in heaven we will only be able to stand in wonder of this truth. But the story of Florence Chadwick can remind us that our destination, the purpose for which we were created is to enjoy complete happiness in heaven in the embrace of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
You and I sometimes get weary and want to stop. The future sometimes seems unsure at best. But our Faith tells us that just beyond the fog of this world’s uncertainties is the shoreline of heaven. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are waiting there with the arms of God outstretched to receive us. We need to keep that image in mind as Florence did. But that’s not all. The Blessed Trinity is with us even now, strengthening us as we swim against the tide; as we battle the fatigue of trying to do good and avoid evil. I invite you to make today’s feast your own taking this image to prayer this week: imagine yourself wading up to the beach of heaven, tired but victorious. Imagine your loved ones there on the shore cheering for you. And imagine God there coming down to the sea’s edge to welcome you home. May the Father’s strength sustain us; may the Son’s love cheer us; may the Holy Spirit’s power encourage us.