Bulletin Article for the Third Sunday of Easter (April 18, 2021)

Welcome to the third week of Easter!

Things are happening. We have hired a young woman, Mairin Bierer, to eventually take over the bookkeeping. Darla is working with Mairin this month to show her the ropes. Please pray for them. Again, we thank Darla for staying on until a replacement is found and is ready to take over. 

The Easter season continues. In the Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples. He says, “Peace be with you.” At first the disciples are terrified. They think they are seeing a ghost. He reassures them that He is not a ghost, but that He has a body. He shows them His crucified hands and feet. They then respond with joy. What a joy it was to see Jesus alive again; that all of their hope in Jesus was not in vain. 

When we place our hope in Jesus, it is not in vain. Jesus died not just for our sins, but the sins of every human person. Because of this, we know that tomorrow can be even better than today. St. Luke says that Jesus opened their minds to the Scriptures. How often do you read the Bible? Yes, we hear the Bible read at Mass, but how often do you read the Bible outside of Mass? Jesus wants to open our minds. He wants to give us hope. However, for that to happen we have to hear His Word. The easiest way to do this is to read the Bible. Through Scripture, Jesus reveals the Truth to us, just as He did with the disciples 2000 years ago. Through our repentance, through Jesus’ forgiveness of our sins, we are called to be bold and proclaim Jesus’ name to all the nations. 

I pray you have a blessed week,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for Divine Mercy Sunday (April 11, 2021)

Happy Easter!!

Today is the eighth day of the Octive of Easter. This is the last day we celebrate Easter the same as Easter day itself. However, the Easter season will continue for another 42 days. As I’ve mentioned before, the Easter season (50 days) is longer than the Lenten season (40 days). Yes, we need to prepare our hearts and make special penances in anticipation of Easter. However, once we get to Easter, we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection for 50 awesome days.

As I’ve talked about in past years, today is also declared as Divine Mercy Sunday. St. Faustina, a nun in Poland in the early 20th century, was asked by Jesus to proclaim His divine mercy to the world. Here are some quotes from her diary. Usually it is Jesus speaking to St. Faustina.

“Today bring to Me THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE SEPARATED THEMSELVES FROM MY CHURCH, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church, My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion (Diary, 1218).”

“Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother. These souls have a right of priority to My compassionate Heart, they have first access to My mercy. Tell them that no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul which has placed its trust in My goodness (Diary, 1541).”

When you read the Diary of St. Faustina, it becomes very clear that God desires, even unto death, to give us the mercy He won for us on the Cross. We just need to accept it. May you have a blessed week continuing to celebrate the Easter season.

Peace of Christ,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for Easter Sunday (April 4, 2021)

Jesus has risen!! Alleluia!! Today we celebrate the center piece of history. What is time? Some say time is the measure of change. But what is the purpose of time? What is the purpose of history? As Christians, we believe that all of history has been leading up to and is centered on humanity. This means that the history of the universe has the purpose and has been leading up to creatures who can praise and worship God, to love God back. However, this purpose was thwarted at the Fall of Adam and Eve. So to restore humanity without taking away the gift of free will, Jesus entered time and space and died on a Cross for our sins, and then rose so that we may have enteral life if we choose to believe in Him, Jesus Christ, our Savior. The purpose of the universe, the purpose of time has been restored. We are once again, creatures who can love, praise, and worship God. 

God is perfectly just and God is perfectly merciful. It would seem that Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, taking on human nature so that He can suffer and die is the best way for God to remain perfectly just (There are consequences for our sins.) and perfectly merciful. All other religions ask first what we can do for God, but Christianity is the only religion that first asks (and answers) what God has done for humanity. It is an immense gift to be a Catholic Christian. This Easter season, take time to thank your parents, grandparents, friend, or whoever introduced you to Christ, for the gift of your Catholic Christian faith, your relationship with Jesus Christ.

In a world of so many things we could be sad or depressed about, it is good to remember that Jesus Christ died and rose again. Jesus died on the Cross for every messed up thing one human being has done to another, for every wrong thing we hear about in the news. Jesus died and rose again to set them free from their sins if they would but ask for forgiveness. Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, is about hope and love. In Jesus Christ, we have hope that the future can be better than today. In Jesus Christ, we know that we are radically loved. So today and for all of the Easter season, we rejoice!

Easter Blessings to You All,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for Palm Sunday (March 28, 2021)

Hello!

Today is another day of free stuff. Ash Wednesday you get ashes. Today you get palm branches. Hence, Palm Sunday. Today, Jesus rides into Jerusalem. Today Jesus rides into Jerusalem like a king. People are joyful that He has arrived. People are putting their cloaks on the road and leafy branches. This is the red carpet treatment. They are beginning to treat Jesus as the Second Person of the Trinity should be treated. And yet, this is the beginning of the end. Or maybe it is the beginning of the beginning. I don’t know. Yet, just a couple of days later, these same people, instigated by the Jewish leaders are calling for Jesus’ death.

Thus begins Holy Week. This is the most serious time of the year. I know our modern world doesn’t slow down for our Christian lives. However, I strongly encourage you to take some extra time for prayer, for ritual, for Bible reading, for remembering what an awesome gift Jesus’ passion and death is. Our lives would be so different without Jesus and the hope He gives us. We get to wake up each morning with the possibility that we are better, that God’s grace won by Jesus on the Cross, can continue to make us more holy. Pray for those who wake up each morning without hope. This week we go through the pain and suffering. But we know that joy and rejoicing is close at hand. This week we are going up the mountain. Don’t celebrate reaching the top early. It is okay to dredge through the climb. Savor the climb. It will make the top even that much more joyful.

May God bless you during this very special time,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 14, 2021)

Hello,

How are you doing? Sorry I have been so MIA this Lent. Even in my bulletin articles. I pray Lent is going well. That the Lord continues to prune and mold you into a more holy version of yourself.

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent. We are halfway to Easter already. Just as we have Gaudate Sunday at the halfway point of Advent, we have Laetare Sunday at the halfway point of Lent. Again, a priest can wear rose colored vestments if he chooses or he can continue to wear purple. Laetare means “rejoice.”

We are not perfect. We should strive for holiness. We should strive not to depend on God’s mercy. But God’s mercy is there for us when we fall. Confession is not first and foremost about confessing our sins. Yes, we do that, but Confession is first and foremost about receiving God’s mercy and love. Before I was a priest I didn’t understand this. As a priest, I know this is true. I hardly remember any of the sins people confess 10 minutes after they walk out the door of the Confessional, but I remember for a long time the special Confessions where you can see it on their face that they have had a profound encounter of God’s love and mercy during the Confession.

We will have several opportunities for Confession, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the next couple of weeks. This coming Wednesday and the following Wednesday will be opportunities for our youth to go. Then on Friday, March 26 at 6 PM, following Stations of the Cross at 5:30, we will have a Covid-conscious Communal Reconciliation service at St. Joseph’s in Good Thunder.

Today’s Gospel Jesus says that He will be raised up kind of like Moses raised up the bronze serpent in the desert. The bronze serpent healed people after they had been bitten by a poisonous snake. Jesus predicts to Nicodemus that He will be raised up will be healed of sin and given eternal life. The more we say yes to Jesus, the more He will heal us. The more He heals us, the more prepared we will be for eternal life. However, if we refuse His healing in our lives, He will not force it on us. I pray we continue to say yes to Jesus, yes to His healing, yes to His gift of holiness and eternal life.

Peace of Christ,

Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the First Sunday of Lent (February 21, 2021)

Hello,

How is everyone doing? Are you frozen yet? Pray for the people in the south who are without electricity and heat. It sounds like it is going to get better from here. It was such a blessing to see all of the people at Mass on Ash Wednesday. I know it was a little weird getting the ashes sprinkled on your head, but it’s what the Pope asked us to do. We continue to pray for those who have COVID, but we also pray for a return to normalcy. 

As you may have heard, the Diocese of Winona-Rochester has settled the lawsuits for $28 million dollars. The Diocese of Winona-Rochester will contribute $21.5 million. This will come from diocesan money and from real estate holdings. None of this money will come from your contributions to the Catholic Ministries Appeal, the CMA. Those contributions were given to the Catholic Foundation of Southern Minnesota and are not available to the lawsuits. However, at the end of the day, horrific things happened to people that should never have happened. We need to pray that this settlement helps alleviate some of the pain the survivors have experienced in the past five, six decades. We also pray that we can move on as a diocese, stronger, and more ardent about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and striving for holiness individually and as a world-wide Church. All of us must strive not to contribute to the evil in the world. 

It is the worst timing ever, but officially last week, the Diocese of Winona-Rochester started the 2021 Catholic Ministries Appeal. I believe you have received things in your mailbox at home already. Again, none of this money will go towards the lawsuits. However, it will be used to support vocations and our seminarians. It will support those preparing for marriage. It will support our Catholic schools. It will support the outreach to homebound and the homeless. The 2021 CMA will help us Catholics continue Jesus Christ’s mission here in southern Minnesota.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is given out into the desert for forty days. After forty days, Jesus was tempted by Satan. We know from the other Gospel accounts that Satan tempted Jesus to put Himself first. That is the temptation in our lives…to put ourselves first. St. Pope John Paul II said that Christ shows man to himself. Christ shows us that we are most ourselves when we give of ourselves to building up the Kingdom of God and to sacrifice for the sake of others.

I pray you are having an awesome beginning of Lent.

May God bless and keep you,

Father Vogel