Bulletin Article for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 11, 2018)

Hello,

It looks like the Belize mission trip had an amazing time. The last I talked to them, they were doing well if not still a little tired. It sounds like they made a great impact not just on the living conditions of some of the people, but also in the friendships they have have made.

The junior high lock-in last weekend went well. There were about 14 kids, including some for the parishes to the south. Jonah Lippert even came back and hung out with the kids devising crazy fun games for the kids. We also had some time for prayer and Eucharistic Adoration.

I usually give very similar homilies to you and the students at the Newman Center each weekend. A while back, I was discussing some of the things they were learning in their business ethics class. I gave them a little taste of Catholics ethics. They were blown away by some of the ideas and principles. So this got me thinking that I should do a series of homilies on Catholic moral principles. Often, and usually from outside sources, we hear what the Catholic Church believes on one issue or another. But have often have we stopped and asked, “why?” What ideas or principles are behind that position? These are some of the things I hope to look at in the following weeks. I realize it is Lent and we only have a couple of more weeks. However, I figure what better time to talk about ethics and morals than Lent. If Lent is about striving to become more holy, then it would be good to learn more about ethics and morals. If I don’t finish before Palm Sunday, we’ll just continue after Easter.

As we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Jesus invites us to believe in Him. Today we hear probably the most famous verse of Scripture: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” St. John goes on to say that Jesus is the light that has come into the world. Usually we think of the darkness as being frightening, but as St. John says, sometimes we can find the light to be frightening. Those who have something to hide want to keep it hidden in the darkness, in the unknown parts of their lives. But Jesus invites us to expose our lives, good and bad to His light so that He can forgives us our sins and no longer live in fear of our sins. If there are dark secrets in the crevices of your soul, I invite you to expose them to the Light of Christ, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

May God bless and keep you,

Father Vogel

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Bulletin Article for the Third Sunday of Lent (March 4, 2018)

Hello,

I’m finally back and plan on being around until this summer. I had a great retreat. I feel closer to Jesus, but especially closer to Mary. I prayed for you and for me while I was on retreat. It looks like things went well while I was gone. It looks like the parishioners in Belize had a successful trip.

This weekend Jesus is pretty hard on the money changers and the people who sold oxen, sheep, and doves. Jesus desires the Jewish temple to be a place of worship. John, the Gospel writer, recalls the words of Scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Do we have zeal for God’s house? Do we have zeal for bringing about the Kingdom of God in the world?

We are the Body of Christ. Thus we die with Christ, but more importantly, we rise with Christ. When Jesus says He is going to raise up the temple in three days, He is talking about His Body at the Resurrection. Jesus lived that He might take on our humanity. Jesus died that we might take on His divinity.

In preparation of this great celebration, we continue to hunker down in our fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. How are your Lenten penances going? Have you already given up? Don’t. Start over. Try, try again. God understands. We must continue to grow our will so that we are in charge of bodies instead of our bodies in charge of us. Do not lose heart.

Take care and God bless,

Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Second Sunday of Lent (February 25, 2018)

Hello,

How is it going? May you count God’s blessings today. We continue to pray for those who are on mission in Belize. We pray for their safety, but even more so, that they are able to give inspiration and show others the gift of God’s love.

Not much is going on in the coming week. I’ll be back on Friday. Maybe a little tanner. This week we hear about another covenant. Again, rather than an exchange of goods, God enters into a covenant with Abraham. God is willing to give Himself to Abraham. Is Abraham willing to give himself (or his son) back to God? Abraham does prove to be willing. This is obviously a foreshadowing of God the Father’s willingness to sacrifice His only Son, Jesus, for our good. Because Abraham is willing, God enters into a covenant promising that Abraham’s descendants will be as numerous as the star in the sky or the sands on the seashore. Again, what is holding us back from giving ourselves completely over to God? Do we lack trust? Do we lack knowledge of God’s love for us? What is holding us back? God is God. He is love. He is truth. Jesus shows His disciples who He really is in the Transfiguration. Do we see Jesus for who He truly is?

May God bless and keep you,

Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the First Sunday of Lent (February 18, 2018)

Hello,

We had a great start to Lent. Thank you everyone who made it to Ash Wednesday services. It was great to celebrate with you.

Starting the afternoon of Monday, February 19, I will be on silent retreat. I will not have access to my email, phone, or texts until the following Monday, February 26. I will get home Friday, March 2. The weekend (February 24-25) I will be gone, the IVE’s will have the Confessions and Mass at St. Matthew on Saturday and then on Sunday, Father Fogal will have the Confessions Mass at St. Teresa’s. Please pray for me that I have a fruitful retreat.

This weekend we hear from Mark how Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days, at the end of which, He was tempted by Satan. Maybe that would be an apt description of our prayer life, our relationship with Christ. We are in a desert. God feels far away. What can we do about this? First of all, we have to put in the time. If you want a real friendship with another human being, you have to put in the time. Jesus is the same way. If we want a relationship with Jesus, and we should, then we have to put in the time. Start with just 5 minutes in the morning of sitting still and asking Jesus what He wants you to focus on or do that day. Maybe it’s patience. Maybe it is humility. Maybe it is to work on your anger. Two, we have to listen. If we ask God a question in prayer, then we need to sit in silence for a bit so that we can listen and hear His response in our hearts and minds. Three, we need to do what He asks us to do. Sometimes it is not easy to do what we know God wants us to do. That is why He tells us that the Kingdom of God is at hand. There is hope. There is help. We need to repent of our sins and believe in the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. He will give us the grace to do His will in our lives.

May God bless you and keep you during this start to Lent.

See you in two weeks,

Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (February 11, 2018)

Hello All,

When I was in high school, someone was “smart” enough to organize a mistletoe dance. Let’s just say in the days/weeks following, there were times when only a third of the students were in class. Everyone else was home sick.

I keep hearing scary stuff on the news about the flu this year. Someone has said that attendance in our own school is way down. So stay safe and healthy.

The readings today are also about health. The laws that God laid out for the Israelites in the Old Testament, in Leviticus, sometimes seem odd when you look through the lens of trying to raise up a holy nation. However, through the lens of practical hygiene and what we now know about bacteria and viruses, some of the laws don’t seem so strange. In today’s first reading, God tells Moses and Aaron what to do if someone has a blotch or a pustule related to leprosy. Since they didn’t have doctors per se, if someone was suspected of having leprosy, they were to show themselves to the priest, who would make the determination. If determined to be leprosy, the person had to go around crying, “Unclean, unclean!” to let those around them know to stay away. They were also to reside outside the camp, away from everyone else, even family and friends. The reason for this was quite practical. In Biblical time and for many centuries after Jesus’ time on earth, leprosy was a very deadly and painful disease. So if you were healthy and you wanted to stay that way, you stayed away from lepers and definitely didn’t touch them. The way disease usually works is, if you are healthy and you touch someone who is sick, you might become sick. However, you touching them, definitely isn’t going to make them healthy. However, this is what Jesus does in the Gospel. He, a healthy person, touches a sick person, and instead of Him becoming sick, the sick person becomes healthy.

The same is true for us. When we touch God, especially in the Eucharist, we become more like Jesus. Jesus, God, doesn’t become more like us. (He has already taken on our human nature fully.) Instead, we become more like Him. We become more divine. We become more like what we will be (if we choose Christ) when we get to heaven, when we exist in the heart of the love of the Trinity.

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday (and Valentine’s Day). So remember to abstain from meat on Wednesday if you are 14 years old or older. Also, if you are between the ages of 18 and 59, remember you are to only eat one full meal and two small meals, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. And no snacking. Obviously, if there are health reasons, you are not obligated to fast. Remember, we do this in solidarity of the poor, but even more so, the poor in spirit. In Biblical times people would fast in order to say sorry to God. We give up the comforts in life in reparation, in making amends, for sins we done. God doesn’t need our fasting or reparation, but we do. We need to acknowledge that we aren’t perfect, that sometimes we are wrong and that their are and should be consequences to our sinful actions, both corporal and spiritual. Sometimes we float through life thinking we’re not too bad, that we are pretty decent people. God didn’t create us to be okay. He created us to be awesome. “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) We probably won’t achieve it in this lifetime. (That’s what Purgatory is for.) But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start striving for it now.

So I’ll see you Wednesday. God bless,

Father Vogel