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.