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 

Bulletin Article for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 14, 2021)

Hello,

Hopefully you are warm and safe from this arctic blast. Things are going well here at the parish office. Kelsie Bias has been our administrator for just over a month. We are grateful to have her on board.

Today we see Jesus healing a man with leprosy. In the age of Covid, we are hyper aware that that coming close to someone who is infected with a disease could be detrimental to our own health. When a healthy person and sick person come in contact, there is no possibility that the sick person is going to “catch” being healthy. No, it’s always the other way around. There is a chance the healthy person could become sick. We know from other instances where Jesus heals that Jesus can heal from afar. Here, though, Jesus reaches out and touches the man with leprosy. Leprosy was highly contagious, but Jesus touches him and he is made clean.

Jesus may not be physically here (except in the Eucharist), but He still desires to heal us. He wants to heal us physically, emotionally, and psychologically, and spiritually. And if He doesn’t, it is because He has a greater good planned to come out of our “sickness.” I pray we open our hearts to Him, to His healing touch.

Peace of Christ,

Father Vogel