Bulletin Article for Palm Sunday (March 29, 2015)

The end is near!!! Of Lent that is. This is the most important time of the year as a Christian. That’s hard to believe and feel. As a society, Christmas or Thanksgiving feels like a bigger deal. We get days off of work and school. Most of us don’t get any extra time to celebrate Easter. I know some Catholic schools might get Monday off, but most of us don’t. However, as a Christian we are entering into the most solemn time of the year: Holy Week.

Holy Week starts today with Palm Sunday. Thursday is Holy Thursday, the day we remember that Jesus took the Jewish feast of Passover and transformed it into the Last Supper. At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. He told His disciples to eat His body and drink His blood as a remembrance of what He did for us. On Good Friday, we remember Jesus’ passion, His dying on the Cross for our sins. Then at the Easter Vigil, the highest Mass of the year, and Easter morning, we remember Jesus’ resurrection, Him giving us the grace to rise from our sins, live a life of grace, and eventually, if we choose Christ, to enter into Heaven, to enter into the very life of the Trinity, God Himself.

But we start with Palm Sunday. At the beginning of the week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as a king. People laid palm branches on the path he was to trod as a sign of respect and reverence. What can we do to show Christ more respect in our lives? Is He king and ruler of our lives or do we do our own thing?

The ashes that are used on Ash Wednesday are made from burning the blessed palms from the year before. That is why we ask for any blessed palms you may have. So today, celebrate Jesus. Allow Him to be king of your life. I promise you Jesus is not a tyrannical king, but a loving king. He wants to be ruler of your life so that He can give you what He knows is best for you.

Have a blessed Holy Week,
Father Vogel

April 2015 Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

What a great month we have coming up. April is all about new life. We have showers that will bring new life to our yards, gardens, and fields. We will have wonderful Minnesota weather. Which means it will be 35 degrees in the morning and 75 in the afternoon. It also is the time for the last push towards the end of the school year. We have spring sports. We have concerts and other such things. We have several baptisms, the re-celebration of human life. But the biggest reason to celebrate is the remembering of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We will celebrate Holy Week and Easter at the very beginning of April. Holy Thursday Mass will be at IHM at 7 PM. Good Friday services will happen at IHM at 3 PM, St. Gabriel at 5:30 PM, and St. Anthony at 7:30 PM. The Easter Vigil is in Fulda this year. We will begin at 8:30 PM. I will try and be done sometime before midnight. Just kidding. Then Easter morning we will have Mass at IHM at 8:30 AM and at St. Anthony at 10:30 AM. Come and join us as we walk through, remember, and celebrate the most important week in the history of the universe. Jesus did so much for us. Yes, He gave us an example of how we should live; that we should live in sacrifice and service for others. But He did so much more. He died to repay a debt that we couldn’t pay for our sins to God the Father. He was fully man so He could stand in our place and He was fully God so He could offer to the Father the infinite gift we could never give.

I still don’t know where I’m going July 1st and I still don’t know who is coming here. As soon as I know, I’ll let you know. I had a great retreat. We had Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn as our retreat master. Thank you for letting me disappear for a couple of days.

I hope you have a blessed month celebrating the great gift of Christ’s resurrection. Remember we prepare for Easter for six weeks through penances and other such things, but we celebrate Easter for seven weeks. So don’t just celebrate Easter on April 5, but once we start, keep celebrating for the next two months.

Take care and God bless,
Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Third Sunday of Lent (March 8, 2015)

We are deep into Lent now. Lent is a time of looking within and seeing, with the gaze of God’s love and mercy, what parts of ourselves we need to change. Our goal is not just to get to heaven, but to live life to the full, to live life to the full potential that God created us for. This requires us leave behind the sinful habits that hold us back for the greatness and holiness God created us for. Part of leaving them behind is asking for forgiveness. We may need to ask for forgiveness from someone who have hurt. We also need to ask for God’s forgiveness. In 1 John 5:16, the Apostle John says that there is some sin that is deadly. Of these sins, we should not pray. In other words, for some sins (mortal sins or sins that are deadly to our souls) something more is required than just praying to God and asking for forgiveness. That something more is to go see a priest in the Sacrament of Confession. In Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23, Jesus gives the Apostles the authority to bind and loose (retain or forgive) not just on earth, but in heaven as well. James 5:16 says to confess your sins to one another. The bishops are the successors of the Apostles. The bishops give permission to their validly ordained priests to forgive sins, to bind and loose. In order for this to happen, the priest or bishop needs to know what the sins are, what he is binding or loosing. Thus as James 5:16 says, the priest or bishop needs to hear the sins confessed to him in order to be able to forgive them or loose them.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also therapeutic. Telling someone else is good for the soul. Some people pay lots of money to tell someone their problems and to get advice on what to do to change. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is free. Besides you are not just telling a priest, but Christ for whom the priest is representing. The priest has taken a promise never to reveal what you said in Confession. He promised to seal it up. What is said in the Confessional stays in the Confessional.

So I cannot urge enough. Go to Confession. Receive God’s love and mercy. Hear with your ears, not just your soul, that your sins are forgiven. Bath in the rebirth God wants to give you this Lent. How many of us spend time each day taking care of our body? How much more should we spend time taking care of our eternal soul? So go to Confession.

This week there are Confessions in Westbrook and Fulda.
St. Anthony                                                  St. Gabriel
Tuesday                                                        Thursday
6:30-8:30 AM                                             6:30-8:00 AM
11:30-2:00 PM                                            11:30-12:45 PM
4:30-6:30 PM                                              4:30-6:30 PM
7:00-8:00 PM                                              7:00-8:00 PM

IHM will have their day on Thursday, March 26th. Hope to see you there.

God bless,
Father Vogel