Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, "Why do you have that palm branch, dad?" "You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him; so we got palm branches today." "Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. "The one Sunday I can't go to church, and Jesus shows up!"
The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday as we enter into Holy Week, and welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death, and resurrection. In order to receive new life, death must happen. Death and resurrection happen in our day-to-day lives.
On Holy Thursday there is a Chrism Mass in Cathedral Churches because it is a solemn observance of Christ's institution of the Eucharist and priesthood. In order to make the opportunity for most priests and laity to attend this Mass, the Bishop may celebrate prior to Holy Week, as we celebrated in our diocese. At this 'Chrism Mass' the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation.
The Holy Thursday liturgy in parish communities is celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown. After the Holy Thursday evening Mass, the Blessed Sacrament is carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. Finally, there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.
Holy Week can become "holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. During Holy Thursday’s institution of Eucharist Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my body broken for you; this is my blood, and shed for you” and we see on Good Friday that this sacrifice is completed on the cross. He broke himself for us and fed us. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the needy people through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy; break and share.
On Good Friday we start the nine days of the novena for Divine Mercy Sunday. On Good Friday we see Jesus open his heart on the Cross and pour his love and mercy for each one of us. Let us look at the cross and prepare during this week for Easter!
Please welcome our new Janitor Gary Eitrem, born and brought up in Park Falls. I am sure you all know him. He will do great job. Also join me to thank Jim Jirschele for his years of commitment. He had back surgery and is recuperating, please keep him in your prayers. Thank you Jim Jirschele and welcome Gary Eitrem.
New Life: A True Gift!
A man was surprised to read the announcement of his own death in the obituary column of the local newspaper. Ringing up his close friend, he enquired, “Did you see the announcement of my death in the paper this morning?” ”Yes,” was the frightened answer in a shivering voice. “But where are you speaking from? Heaven or Hell?”
We are a week away from the start of the Holy Week. In the next two weeks, we will live the Gospel passage of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus asks us to have faith in him. During the fifth Sunday of Lent Year A, the prophet Ezekiel reminds the Israelites during their Babylonian captivity of the Lord’s promise to not only bring us back to life, but to bring us back to home. St. Paul, in the second reading, assures us that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and who dwells within us, will give life to our mortal bodies. In the Gospel, the revival of Lazarus is the foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus cries at the tomb of Lazarus. When confronted with death, Jesus reacted the same way you and I react. He cried. But then Jesus did something: he called Lazarus out of the grave. He did this not just because he wanted his friend to live, but because he wanted us to know that he was the Lord of Life.
Believing in Jesus is not just a life and death issue. it is also a death and life issue. Believing in Jesus gives us the ability to enjoy his life even after our death. Believing in Jesus helps us make some sense of the mystery of death in the world. Our loved ones die to this world, but live in the Lord.
In living our faith, in practicing Christian morality, we are often confronted with life and death issues, but this does represent a complete view of Christianity. The martyrs knew this. And they refused to deny Christ but not because they wanted to die. They chose Christ because they wanted to live. As Christians, we have to have a profound faith, a fundamental belief, in death and life.
How can we understand death? We can only understand death as a transition from this life to the next. It can happen two ways, one way is die to this world physically, or another is to die to this world spiritually. When we leave this world we have eternal life; when we leave the selfish man, we are resurrected, and we are in spirit and new life.
The Sacraments are special ways we meet Jesus and receive grace of life. This reading is also relevant for our RCIA candidate, Michael, as he prepares for the Sacraments. It is relevant for all of as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection. He comes and touches us with new life.
We are in the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally this Sunday is known as “Laetare Sunday,” from the Latin word for “Rejoice!” It sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery. The theme of the reading is sight.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went camping. They pitched their tent under the stars and went to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes awoke and exclaimed, “Watson, look up; tell me what you see?” Watson opened his eyes and said, “I see billions of stars. It’s likely that some of these have planetary systems. Furthermore, it’s possible that life has developed in a few.” “Is that what you see?” Holmes replied, “No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent!”
Most of us have good eye sight. Some of us have to wear glasses to have good vision. Today’s readings remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in the physical as well as in spiritual sense and instructs us to be vigilant and not to fall into spiritual blindness. The fourth Sunday of Lent connects with the Candidate who are preparing to receive the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil.
In today’s First Reading the prophet Samuel has been sent to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king of Israel. When Samuel was sent out, in his mind was the figure of Saul, the present king. Samuel thought Jesse’s son Eliab would be a good replacement, because he was tall and handsome, much like Saul. The Lord said to him, “Not as man sees does God see.” Jesse presented seven of his sons, but not David. Even Jesse didn’t think God would chose David. When David came the LORD said to Samuel, "There—anoint him, for this is the one!" Samuel tried to make decision based on appearance, in another word, based on his sight. God direct him to see beyond physical sight.
In today’s Second Reading, Paul reminds us that the Lord has brought us from darkness to light. Sin not only disfigures us, but it also blinds us. So Paul encourages us to live as children of light, which gives us true sight.
The Gospel story tells us how a blind man received sight. The man, who was born blind, not only received the gift of sight, but he also received an opportunity to see that Jesus was the one who healed him. The man who received sight could not deny what was right in front of his face. He gave witness for the gift he received and what he experienced. The Pharisees were kept asking how Jesus opened his eyes. They couldn’t praise God or recognize Jesus for what he did, but the blind man was able to do so. He received sight and insight. Others could see, but they couldn’t recognize.
Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should help us receive true sight so that we can see the great things God has done in our lives and in the lives of the people around us.
We all experience two kinds of thirst in life. The first kind of thirst is horizontal, our desire for things on earth: food, drink, companionship, fun, entertainment, a nice house, a good income, success at work or school and many more.
The second kind of thirst vertical, a deeper desire built into our nature: a desire for meaning and purpose. But unlike horizontal thirst, our vertical thirst cannot be satisfied by our own efforts. Only God himself can satisfy it.
On the third Sunday of lent, we see in first reading and the Gospel is about thirst. In the first reading Moses was leading people out of Egypt from slavery. People were thirsty in the dessert and their question whether God is even there. God asks Moses to strike the rock and he provided water and satisfies the thirst of the complainers. In the Gospel Jesus thirst for soul of Samaritan woman. On the other hand the Samaritan woman’s thirst was for real love.
Jews and Samaritans were not on good terms, so the Samaritan woman was surprised to see Jesus, a Jew, is asking her water. Normally women used to go to fetch water in the morning or in the evening when it was not too hot. But she came to fetch water at noon. She may have been trying to avoid the crowd. Jesus came to her level to reach out and walk with her and leads her to faith. Jesus reveals himself as the source of Living Water.
The liturgy makes use of the symbol of water to refer to our relationship with God. It represents God’s Spirit which comes to us in Baptism. The water that Jesus promises is closely linked to conversion and the forgiveness of sin. In the second reading, Saint Paul asserts that, as the savior of mankind, Jesus poured the living water of the gift of his Holy Spirit into our hearts. Samaritan woman, in the Gospel, once embraced the faith, Jesus, the living water, becomes a missionary who brings others to Jesus. Once she had life changing experience, she couldn’t hold it for herself.
Jesus THIRSTS for our faith. Do we thirst for him? Yes, we do. The question is, do we recognize it? Lent invites us renew our faith and receive the spirit. This week and the next two weeks we take reading from the Year A, because we have RCIA candidates. Please pray for Michael Zilinger who is preparing to receive Sacraments during Easter Vigil.
This weekend’s first reading and Gospel take us to the mountain top. Two different atmospheres with basically same theme. Abraham took his beloved son Isaac to the land of Moriah to sacrifice him according to the command of God. We know the rest of the story: God was testing Abraham’s faithfulness. In the Gospel Jesus reveals his glory at the transfiguration. It is a message of hope and encouragement. What a grace for Peter and James and John to see Jesus transfigured. They got a preview of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead and his glory in heaven. We, as Christians, have promise of God, glory in Jesus, sharing in his risen life.
Just before receiving this special grace of seeing Jesus transfigured, Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer greatly, be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, be killed, and rise after three days (Mark 8:31). How did they react? Peter rebuked Jesus for saying this, and Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan. After the mountain top experience Peter said, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Does this tell us something about ourselves? I think we all like mountain top experiences, and we want to stay there.
During the transfiguration heaven opened and there was voice that said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." During the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah were conversing with Jesus. They were talking about Jesus: his passion, death, and resurrection. What we see in common in the first reading and the Gospel is this: Abraham takes only his beloved son to Sacrifice. God the Father sends his only son to sacrifice. These readings prepare us for the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Please meet and welcome our new St. Anthony Daycare director…
It is my pleasure to introduce myself as the new Daycare Director of St. Anthony’s parishioners and community members. My experience working with young children began in Park Falls, to which I have extensively added multiple schools and learning centers throughout the greater Milwaukee area, both public and private. I bring back to my hometown courage, knowledge, and humble wisdom. I grew up in Fifield, spending my free time in the summers swimming at Movrich Park. In the winter, I enjoyed sledding, skating, and reading. My daughter is eleven and attending Chequamegon School, enjoying music as she learns to play percussion. We are relishing the peace and tranquility of the abundant rivers and forests.
During my eighteen years in Milwaukee, I had the privilege to study from various teachers associated with the University Arts Department of Milwaukee and in the Educational Field both as a student and teacher while attaining my Bachelor of Arts in Dance degree and Bachelor of Early Childhood Education degree. One of the most memorable and relatable experiences I bring to St. Anthony’s Daycare is a story about my time at a Milwaukee Public U.S. Grant School as a student teacher in Kindergarten for five-year-olds. The class had twenty-five children ranging in age and development and most had not received any schooling before this time. Many spoke other languages with English as primary and came from various types of households ranging in religious and economic backgrounds. As I learned from each of their growing personalities, and they learned a little bit of phonological awareness from me, it became apparent that I was going to change from this experience.
After months of growing pains, I became a beloved school teacher, adoring the children in all of their uniqueness. They became the highlight of my day, and as the days came to an end, I also grew as a teacher, learning that I had to let them go and grow onto the next grade. This shared experience of letting go is the one I will bring to every family here at St. Anthony’s as we will watch the children go and grow.
I am opening a new chapter in my life as your Daycare Director. I will also cherish the shared joys and struggles with you as your families will go and grow. I look forward to spending time making sure every detail is attended to, and I welcome fresh ideas as we add to the current program here at St. Anthony’s Daycare. Please contact me if you wish to share your thoughts. St. Anthony Daycare needs your support as we will be looking for donations in the future.
~Thank you, Melissa Eitrem
Piri Thomas wrote a book called “Down These Mean Streets”. It describes his conversion from being a convict, a drug addict, and an attempted killer to becoming an exemplary Christian.
One night Piri was lying on his cell bunk in prison. Suddenly it occurred to him what a mess he had made of his life. He felt an overwhelming desire to pray. But he was sharing the cell with another prisoner called “the thin kid”. So he waited.
After he thought “the thin kid” was asleep, he climbed out of his bunk, knelt down on the cold concrete, and prayed. He said: “I told God what was in my heart… I talked to him plain… no big words… I talked to him of my wants and lacks, of my hopes and disappointment… I felt like I could even cry… something I hadn’t been able to do for years.” After Piri finished his prayer, a small voice said, “Amen.” It was “the thin kid.” “There we were”, Piri said, “he lying down, head on bended elbows, and I still on my knees. No one spoke for a long while. Then the kid whispered, ‘I believe in Dios also.”
The two young men talked for a long time. Then Piri climbed back into his bunk. “Good night, Chico,” he said. “I’m thinking that God is always with us-it is just that we aren’t with him.”
We see in the Gospel that Jesus spent forty days in the desert, and Satan tempted him. The number forty is a very significant number in the Bible. It took 40 days for sinfulness to drown in the flood before a new creation could inherit the earth. It took 40 years for the generation of slaves to die before the freeborn could enter the Promised Land. For 40 days Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted and prayed to prepare themselves for their life's work. We read in the Gospel for this weekend that Jesus fasted and prayed for forty nights and days in the desert before his public ministry.
Then Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee, inviting people to repentance: repent and believe in the Gospel. Repentance leads us to reorder our priorities and change our values, ideals, and ambitions, with the help of fasting, prayer, and mortification. In the first reading the merciful God selected Noah and his family to renew the covenant. Noah’s rescue from the flood symbolizes how we are saved through the water of Baptism which cleanses us of sin and makes us one with Christ. God signs the new covenant with Noah with a beautiful rainbow.
During Lent, it is a good idea to pay more attention than usual to the crucifix. Christ's wounds show us images of sin, tell us what sin does to ourselves, the world, and our relationship with God. The cross also shows us the intensity of his love for us. Let his love purify us in this season of Lent.
Pope Francis writes about Dante Alighieri’s description of hell in his Lenten message. He says, “Dante pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice, in a frozen and loveless isolation.” Pope Francis continues, “We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love beginning to cool? …Love can also grow in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.”
Then the Pope tries to answer a question: “What are we to do?” He says, “Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”
The readings for Ash Wednesday resound with the Pope’s message. In the first reading, the prophet Joel insists that we should experience a complete conversion of heart and not simply sorrow for our sins. Saint Paul, in the second reading, advises us “to become reconciled to God.” Today’s Gospel instructs us to assimilate the true spirit of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
St. Augustine of Hippo tells us that there are two kinds of people and two kinds of love: “One is holy, the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him.” Every day we are challenged about what we love and how we love.
Ash Wednesday is the Church’s ‘Day of Atonement’. It is not only the first of the forty days of Lent, but along with Good Friday, the Church describes it as a day of full fast and abstinence. Fasting is prescribed to reinforce our penitential prayer during this season. We are called to journey with the Lord in this special season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover, we too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ's death and resurrection.
What do we do in this Lent?
Prayer: We devote ourselves in prayer: in personal prayer, participating weekend Mass, and if our schedules allow, attend weekday Mass.
Fasting: Fast from anything that harms ourselves and others. It could be food or other things, habits, or situations.
Almsgiving: Freeing ourselves from greed and helping others. It can be through prayers, inviting others to pray at Mass, spending time with others, and/or giving financial help.
Does Jesus sound funny in the gospel today? We all love to have joy-filled lives, but Jesus says that anyone who wants to be his follower must take up his cross. ‘Really?’ you may ask, ‘why do we have to take up a cross to follow Jesus as he asked in the Gospel today?’ Always suffering is matter of study or discussion. Why do we suffer? Why does God allow suffering? Why does God allow good people to suffer? Every world religion and philosophy tries to find the answer to these questions.
As we saw in last weekend’s reading, Peter proclaims the faith, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In this weekend’s reading, we see that Peter objected to Jesus’ prediction of his sufferings. When Peter proclaimed his faith he was in the high moment in his life. But when he heard about suffering, he couldn’t accept it. does this sound familiar in our lives? In the first reading, Jeremiah was send by God, and he was regarded as a traitor by his own people because, as God's spokesperson, he had to foretell the dire results that would follow from their plan of revolt against the mighty power of Babylon. So he became depressed and complained bitterly to God. Jeremiah said, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped”
Suffering comes in two different ways to our lives. One, we don’t have much choice, it grabs us. The second one, we make a choice to sacrifice for others. Either way, if we face the suffering with a grateful heart and join with Jesus’s suffering, it has redemptive power. Can we accept suffering with a grateful heart? Yes, but it not easy. It is a process. Normally at the initial stage we would like to deny or avoid suffering. We can move from this stage with God’s grace to receive healing by sharing our pain with the Lord when we pray. We don’t have to be perfect when we pray. We can tell the Lord everything. Another help in moving through these stages to arrive at acceptance and grace, would be to tell a trustworthy friend. There is a saying “A trouble shared is half a trouble.” If we are a caring Christian community, we should be helping each other carry our crosses. If we’re not helping each other carry our crosses, we’re not a caring Christian community.
You may know the thrilling story of Glen Cunningham, a young man whose legs were so badly burned when he was a boy that doctors said he would never walk again. However, this determined champion went on to win an Olympic gold medal as a miler. Even more importantly, Glen Cunningham devoted his life to helping troubled young people. Once, his wife asked, "Glen, why do we have to give so much more than others? No one else is doing what we are." Glen answered, "That's the reason, Ruth. No one else is doing it."
Do we know how many people sacrifice time, talent, and treasure to protect our lives, communities, nation, and world? Are you and me part of it? If yes, are we doing with gratitude? Please pray the words of consecration during Mass with special attention.
On the night he was betrayed, he himself took bread and giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave to his disciples, saying: “take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.” Jesus took bread and gave thanks just before his crucifixion and death. Jesus took the cross with a grateful heart, because he was carrying it for us, to give us life. Can we do this? “No.” But we can do this with the help God’s grace and with the help of fellow disciples.
A Sunday school teacher asked Charlie, “do you remember your memory verse?” Then Charlie, “I sure do. I even remember the zip code…Matthew 16:16.”
One of the social phenomena in the modern world is opinion polls. These are conducted everywhere, especially in the political and commercial spheres. One day Jesus also wanted to do an opinion poll, but for a different purpose. He was not looking for approval ratings, but he was looking for relationship ratings. Jesus used every opportunity to teach his disciples and the common people. Jesus asked them, “Who do people say that the son of man is?” They answered: "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus was preparing them to answer a bigger or personal question. So he immediately followed his first question with a second: “Who do you say that I am?"
It is not an easy question. There was a silence. Then Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” How we answer this will determine how we relate to Jesus. Is He someone I can trust? Is He someone who loves, forgives, wants the best of us? Is He someone worth our time on Sundays? When we recite the Creed at Mass we give the Church our answer. "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father…." Do we recite this with awareness?
If Jesus comes to this modern world and does an opinion poll on this question, “Who do you say that I am?” What will be our answer? We need to reflect on this question as an individual, as a parish or cluster, as a universal Church. Let us memorize Charlie’s zip code, Matthew 16:16, which is Peter answering to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
We have an opportunity to reflect collectively on our relationship with Jesus. We will have a dynamic speaker, Rich Curran, on Sunday, November 5. After the 9:30 am Mass, please plan to stay up to 1:30 pm. Parish council members will be making phone calls to every parishioner to invite everyone for this event. We will have Daycare for younger families, 4th through 8th graders will have a youth minister to engage them. 9th grade through confirmation will be joining with adults. Kountry Kafe will be catering lunch. Please respond to the phone call from our parishes and reserve that day to pray together and reflect on evangelization. The theme for the day is “Moving Northwoods Catholic Communities from Maintenance to Mission.”
Let us find Him in our life…Let us do Him homage…
If you want to get into Olympic competition, you'd better be a pretty good athlete. If you want to get into the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, you need some musical ability. If you want to get into the Miss America Pageant, you'll be greatly helped if you are good-looking and somewhat talented. But to get into the Kingdom of God, all you need is Faith - to say, "Lord, I believe," and to say this, not in words alone, but also in action, expressing Faith through life.
God wants all people to know and love him, because God desires to share His love with the whole world. The first believers were Jews. Matthew writes to Jewish community the story of Canaanite woman whose faith was admired by Jesus. In last weekend's gospel reading, Peter's prayer was condensed into three words, "Lord, save me!" In this weekend’s reading, the Canaanite woman's prayer is exactly the same. Peter was the Lord's chief disciple, the Canaanite woman was a pagan, but their prayer was the same. The question is, how could a pagan express faith when so many others were suspicious about Jesus? Faith must mean more than words and rituals. We saw Peter last week; he doubted and started to sink. It is an invitation for everyone to come to faith. Matthew was talking about the universality of faith. Isaiah, in the first reading said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” God reveals the truth that He loves and cares for everyone. In other words, we all belong to God and we all belong to one another.
In today's Gospel reading, however, Jesus appears rather reluctant to help the woman. "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" meant "I was sent to help Jews, not Canaanites." And he adds "It is not fair to throw the children's food to dogs." I don’t think Jesus was insulting the Canaanite woman, rather, he was using colloquial language to teach something new. Jews considered others lower than themselves. They called gentiles “dogs.” Jesus was telling Jews, you are the privileged people, but it not just for you. Jesus saw the faith of the Canaanite woman.
Jesus sees all that is good within the human heart. He saw the faith of the Canaanite woman. He sees your faith and my faith. He knows how we are trying our best to serve Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us more than we love ourselves. On the other hand we come to worship as a community. When we worship, we are exposed to each other’s faith. We are inspired by each other’s faith. When we bring up the gifts of bread and wine in the offertory procession, it represents all that we have and all that we are. We offer these gifts to God, and He transforms them into the Body and Blood of Jesus. At the Mass we all unite in our faith. We go out from the Mass like the Canaanite woman, with gratitude and love of sharing the faith with others.