Bulletin Article for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 24, 2022)

Maybe I don’t, but I want to apologize for being gone this summer. These next two weeks I’ll be gone during the week to help out with Camp Summit. Our parish is going week 2 (August 1-4), but I will also being helping out with week 1 (July 25-28). I wish more of our kids would go to Camp Summit. It is a great way for our junior high kids to experience some time away from home in an environment that encourages the beauty of the Mass, the connection one can feel with Jesus during Eucharistic Adoration, the power of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation all while having fun, full packed days of climbing walls, doing archery, high ropes courses, and other great activities.

I was at a convent and during the Mass where we usually say, “May Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church,” they replaced all the “his” with “God.” Theologically, this is not wrong. However, it does beg the question, “Why do we usually refer to God in the masculine?” The short answer is because Jesus told us to. In the Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus how to pray. Jesus responds by saying, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name…” You could also talk about this from the point of view of the Theology of the Body. In the marital act, life literally goes out from the potential father and received by potential mother. In this moment, it is the potential father that gives and the potential mother that receives. We know from the Bible that God first loved us. God is first giver of love and we are first receivers of love. In this way God is more like a father than a mother.

Before all this, we need to ask, “Is God male or female?” The answer is “neither.” We are made in God’s image; not God in our image. God is neither male or female. In the Theology of the Body, Saint Pope John Paul proposes that we are made in the image and likeness of God as male and female because God is a Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As I have mentioned in homilies before, God the Father perfectly loves God the Son. God the Son perfectly receives that love and then perfectly loves God the Father back. This exchange of love is so perfect It is the third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Just as husband gives love in the martial act and the wife receives love in the marital act and loves her husband back and he receives her love, nine months later they may have to give their love a name.

The Church is always referred to in the feminine. God first loves us. We first receive God’s love as His followers.

Being male and female is not something that can change based on how we feel. It is something stamped not just into our bodies, but into our souls. Being male and female is not something arbitrary, but a gift from God so that we can better understand who we are (as male and female), but in light of who God is as Trinity. We need holy masculinity and holy femininity in the world today in a desperate way. We need both. I pray we live this out.

Peace,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 17, 2022)

This week I’ll be gone from Sunday evening until Thursday. I will be meeting up with my family in Kansas City. Remember, I have a sister that lives in Berlin and a sister that lives in Palestine. So it will great to spend a couple of days with my parents, my four siblings, and my ten nieces and nephews. So pray for us.

Today we hear about Jesus, Martha, and Mary. Jesus tells Martha that she is worried and anxious about many things. This means that Martha was not just anxious and worried about the serving. Jesus seems to indicate that Martha is a worrier. As I have said before, it is good to be concerned about the things we can control, but worrying about things we can’t control is where we can go wrong. It these things that we need to place in God’s hands and trust Him. When we worry about things that we can’t control, then we are not allowing God to be Lord of our lives. How is your trust in God these days? There is a lot of things we could be anxious and worried about. Inflation was up over 9% for June. There is the deep political divide in our country. There is the war in the Ukraine. There is just a lot going on. If you want to develop an ulcer, just watch the news. Now we can’t be ignorant of the things going on in the world, but a lot of it is beyond our control. That is where prayer and trust must take over. So take time today to pray for our nation and our world. Pray that people turn to God and His teachings found in the Catholic Church.

Have a blessed week,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 10, 2022)

Today is the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Today we hear about a scholar of the law ask Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds to the scholar’s question with a question: “What is written in the law?” The scholar responds, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” In the parable that follows, Jesus explains who our neighbor is. However, we cannot skip over the first part. Do we love God with all our heart, with all our bing, with all our strength, and all our mind? That is a really tall ask. This is all in. But this is how God first loves us. He gave Himself on the Cross. He held nothing back. And He holds nothing back now. He loves you infinitely. We do not have the capacity to received the fullness of God’s love for us. This does not mean we should give up on trying to love God back. No, it means that we should try all the more because we are assured that our love for God can never be outdone by God’s love for us. As we strive and grow in our ability to love God, God will grow our ability to receive His love. And as we grow in ability to receive God’s love and to love Him back, we will grow in our ability to love our neighbor.

Please pray for Judy Bach as recovers from surgery. Please pray for Jim and Gloria Langworthy as they celebrate 60 years of marriage. Also, pray for our youth who will be attending the Steubenville Rochester youth conference next weekend. We pray that they have a life-changing event and come to realize Jesus’ love for them.

We all have good neighbors and bad neighbors. In Christ, we need to learn how to love them all.

Peace of Christ,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (June 26, 2022)

Hello,

I will finally be around for awhile. I get to come back for an exciting week. This week we have Totus Tuus here in our tri-parish. Totus Tuus is Latin for “Totally Yours.” This was Saint Pope John Paul II’s motto. John Paul consecrated himself completely to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Totus Tuus program is a program for youth that emphasizes learning our Catholic faith, praying the Rosary, going to Mass, and going to Reconciliation. Those of you who have kids in school, I encourage you to sign up your kids. You won’t regret it. The daytime program is for the elementary school kids and the evening program is for the junior high and high school kids. The evening program starts tonight and the daytime program starts tomorrow. The evening program ends Thursday and the daytime program ends Friday.

We have an interesting Gospel reading today. Jesus is starting to make His final journey to Jerusalem. However, He is up north in Galilee. Between Galilee and Jerusalem is an area called Samaria. To condense hundreds of years into a few sentences, when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was defeated in 722 BC by Assyria, the Assyrians exiled the Israelites, but left behind those they deemed “weak” and “unimportant.” The Assyrians also brought Assyrians in to live in the area. These “weak” and “unimportant” Israelites and Assyrians intermixed. This mixed race of Israelites and Assyrians became known as Samaritans. Thus, when we get to the time of Jesus, the “pure” Israelites looked down on the Samaritans because they were not “pure” Israelites. This was so true that when Israelites traveled between Judah in the south (the area in which the city of Jerusalem was located) and Galilee in the north, they would travel around Samaria (even though obviously traveling through Samaria is a much shorter route).

So Jesus being Jesus, doesn’t care about stupid racist social norms. He does the bold thing and proposes to His disciples to travel straight through Samaria. This is a highly unusual thing to do, to travel straight through Samaria. Jesus sends some messengers ahead. The first town they come to the people are unwilling to welcome Jesus because He is a Jew traveling through Samaria just to get to Jerusalem. Typical for the “Sons of Thunder,” James and John, they ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy them. Jesus rebukes them and they go a different way.

How do we react when people do not react to our presence the way that they should? Do we desire revenge? Do we run over them? Or do we what Jesus did, and find another way, another village that would accept Him and let Him and His disciples pass through? There are some people we aren’t going to change. That’s when we need to pray for them (for God’s grace is more powerful than anything we can say or do in the moment) and find another way around them.

I pray you have a blessed week. Remember, God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness are bigger than our sins and failures.

Peace of Christ,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for Solemnity of the Holy Trinity (June 12, 2022)

Hello again from afar.

This week I’m in Bismarck, ND. I’m here on the campus of University of Mary. So my month and half of travel continues. This week I’ll be in Winona for Ministry days and Lincoln, NE for a development conference.

I wish you could all be here. The reason I’m here in Bismarck is because FOCUS training is taking place. FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students. This summer hundreds of young people in their 20’s are being trained so that they can go out and share the love and mercy of Christ with students on college campuses across the nation. These young men and women promise to put their careers on hold for at least two years. This is how much they love Jesus and want others to know Him. I am constantly blown away by their love, fidelity to the Catholic faith and teachings, and their great desire for holiness. Yes, the Catholic Church may be reduced in numbers in the years to come, but those who remain will be every so for fervent for Christ and His Church. Despite what we hear and see, the future of the Catholic Church is so very bright. Yes, Jesus promised that the Church would survive until He comes back again, but I get to see this enacted every day that I’m here and when I’m at the Newman Center in Mankato. So continue to pray for the Church. Continue to pray for our young people. Yes, statistically, we are losing this generation, but the ones who get it, really get it. They are so on fire!

This week we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity. Thousands of years ago God revealed to Abraham that there is only one God. Almost every religion before that had believed that there were many gods. Therefore, Judaism, Muslim, and Christians trace their faith back to Abraham. Thus these are the three monotheistic religions in the world. Then 2000 years ago, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, revealed that there are three Persons in the one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God is a community of Persons in and of Himself. He is a community of Persons loving each other. Thus, God is LOVE. All authentic love has God, as Trinity, as Its source. God, our Creator, is infinitely a community of Love. This has radical implications for who we are as human beings since we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are created for love. We are created for community. We are created for eternity. These are our deepest desires. This is why we are never completely satisfied in this life. It does not matter if one believes in God or not. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Until we get to heaven and spend eternity with Love Himself, we will never be completely satisfied. Our human heart was created for God and Him alone. Only God can satisfy our desire for love and eternity. I pray you turn to God to satisfy your deepest longings.

Peace and joy,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for Pentecost (June 5, 2022)

Hello My People, 

Do you even remember who I am? The crazy month and half continues. This past week I have been enjoying God’s beauty here in the hills of Acadia National Park in Maine. This next week I will be in Bismarck, ND for FOCUS chaplain days. I will get to meet the new FOCUS missionaries while I’m there. Thank you for you understanding as serve the larger Church community. And thank you to Steve Breiter for holding everything together while I’m gone all these weeks.

This weekend we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. For the Vigil Masses, the first option for the first reading is from Genesis, chapter 11. Here, the world spoke one language and they, in their pride, decide to build a tower with its top in the sky. So to curb their pride, God confused their speech and had them speaking different languages. This is called to the Tower of Babel. It is also where we get the term babel, to speak incoherently. Why is this the first reading for the vigil Masses? Because, in Pentecost, even though the Apostles were Jewish and only spoke Hebrew and Greek, people from all over the (known) world heard the Apostles speaking in their own language. Pentecost is the undoing of the Tower of Babel. God calls all of humanity to Himself. God calls people of every nation to be His disciples. This is what the Holy Spirit does. It takes a group of timid men and makes them bold and on fire for sharing the Gospel.

We too have received this same Holy Spirit. We too are called to make disciples of all nations starting with ourselves. That being said, not really, but in some ways we are all hypocrites. I say this not condemn ourselves, but to realize we do not have to be perfect before we share the Gospel with others. Jesus is not come for the healthy. Jesus came for all of us who are a mess. It is okay to be a mess. We should be saving to be less of a mess with the help of Christ. But do not let your imperfections prevent you from sharing the perfect love of Christ with others. I know and believe that people’s lives are better when they have a relationship with Christ. Hopefully you know that too. If you know this, then let Pentecost inspire you to share this love, this hope with others.

May we Christians be bearers of hope in Christ in this time that seems to be so short on hope.

Peace and love,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (May 8, 2022)

Hello.

Summer has arrived at Minnesota State University. It has not arrived in the weather. Actually, that’s not quite true. This past week was quite pleasant. I am beginning a very busy time. I will be gone this week at a spiritual direction training workshop at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, IL. I will be there Sunday through Friday. Then Friday, May 13, I will fly directly from Chicago to Lima, Peru. I will be spending a week in Peru on a mission trip with the college students. Please pray for me and the students. I think the Lord is going to change a lot of hearts in Peru. We have about 30 students going!

This week we hear Jesus talk about us, the sheep. He says that His sheep know His voice. He says that His sheep follow Him. It is not enough to just to think about what Jesus thinks. We need to dive into the teachings of the Catholic Church and into personal prayer. The world has a lot of ideas about what Christians should do and how to act. They tell us that the loving thing to do is to accept people just the way they are. And yes, we should accept people just the way they are, but we cannot accept the sin that some people are deeply attached to. At every turn we need to ask is this the will of God or is this me desiring God and the Church to affirm me in my sin and sinful desires? Being a Christian was not suppose to be easy. Sometimes God asks us to make great sacrifices and to experience great suffering for the objective Truth because true Love (God) wants us to live in the Truth.

In the last week the abortion issue has been thrust into the forefront. I know this is not a simple issue. This issue touches on so many other things: family support, welfare, maternity leave, other pro or anti-family policies in our insurance and business practices, and many other things. Then there is the right that women have to equal rights. There are so many other aspects that I cannot do it justice in a bulletin article. The bottom line is human life begins at conception. This is logical and back up by science. The “what-ness” does not change over time. The “what-ness” of a human being is that of human being from the very beginning. The “what-ness” does not change from embryo or clump of cells to human being at viability or the moment the child comes out of the womb. The “what-ness” never changes from the moment of conception. If a human being is a human being from the moment of conception and it is always wrong to kill an innocent human being, then killing a human being in the womb is wrong. Yes, children die in the womb via miscarriages and this is a sad event, but it is natural. Outside of rape, there is a way to ensure not getting pregnant and that is not to engage in sex. This is why the Church has said that children deserve to be conceived, born, and raised within a marriage of one man and one woman. That any sex outside of marriage is a sin. This is what often happens: evil begets more evil. This is why it is good for not just the persons, but for society at large, to live God’s plan for sex and marriage and not seek out sexual pleasure outside of marriage. I know these words are not going to change anyone’s mind. However, this is why the Catholic Church can never accept abortion as okay under any circumstances.

Please continue to pray for our nation in these polarizing times,

Father Vogel