Bulletin Article for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (June 16, 2019)

Dear People of the Tri-Parish,

I am typing this Wednesday evening. Things seem to be going well here in New Orleans. The kids are meeting Catholic youth from all over the United States. There are a couple of groups from Texas, but there is even a group from California. There are a couple of work sites that need the campers there early so our morning schedule has been earlier than usual. They have been waking up the kids at 5:15 AM, giving them breakfast, and then Mass is at 6:30 AM. Parents, teachers, and coaches, if they ever complain about having to get up early, remind them that they can do it because they have done it before. But seriously, they have met old people in their homes, they have met black kids in the inner city, they have fed the homeless. Their understanding of the face of Christ is being broadened in a way that could never happen in southern Minnesota. What a great blessing for our kids. Thank you to all who worked hard and/or donated to make these experiences possible. Thank you so much.

This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Jesus revealed that God was not just one Being, but that there are three Persons in the one Being of God. In all of human history, in the history of religions, this had never been revealed before. When God revealed that God was one God and not many gods, this is was a watershed moment in the revelation of God in human history. Now in Jesus, God was doing it again. Now that some people rightfully understood that God was one and not many gods, God further reveals that there are three Persons in the one God. Philosophers and theologians have pondered the logic and inner workings of a God that is one and three. At the end of the day, it is a mystery. 

Our understanding of God as Trinity has a profound implications for our understanding of ourselves (who are made in God’s image and likeness), why God created us, what the purpose of human life is, and our final density (Refer the movie, “Back to the Future.”). I don’t have space here to lay all this out, but needless to say, God is Love, He created us out of love and desires us to be in a loving relationship with Him forever.

May the Love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain with you forever,

Father Vogel

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Bulletin Article for Ascension of Our Lord (June 2, 2019)

Hello,

The graduation season has begun. I have been to a couple of great graduation parties so far. The food has been excellent. Please continue to invite me via Facebook or the old fashioned way. We thank our seniors for the impact they have had on our church community and also the community at large. We send them with our prayers. We pray that the lessons they have learned in our community give them a solid foundation for becoming great citizens of the world, but even more so, the Kingdom of God. 

Betsy has some cool things planned for the summer so look for the bulletin for details. Thank you for your support in prayers and finances for the youth trips this summer. I know the events will be blessed times for our youth. 

This Sunday we celebrate Jesus ascension into heaven. Traditionally this has been celebrated on the Thursday between the sixth and seventh Sundays of Easter, but now many dioceses (along with ours) celebrates the Ascension on the seventh Sunday of Easter. The Thursday between the sixth and seventh Sunday of Easter is exactly 40 days after Easter. The Bible tells us that Jesus ascended 40 days after His resurrection. Hence the tradition. However, to make it easier (and so people don’t incur a mortal sin), many bishops have moved the Holy Day of Obligation of the Ascension to the following Sunday.

It is in some ways sad I suppose that Jesus ascends into heaven. He is no longer with us in His human body and form. However, He told His disciples this was a good thing. Jesus was going to go to the Father in heaven, but He will send us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to take care of us, unify us, and to guide us to all Truth. Again, in some ways, we have the opportunity to be more intimate with Jesus than the people did 2000 years ago. In the Eucharist we take Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Himself, into our bodies and the consecrated host (as all food does) becomes a part of our bodies. Jesus’ body becomes a part of our bodies. This is all part of the grand plan of the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus; that through Jesus becoming like us, we have the opportunity to become like Him. The Eucharist is a big part of this grand plan of God. This is how much He loves us and wants to be intimately close with us. What a great and loving God we have!

Take care and God bless (and don’t get sunburned),

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 19, 2019)

Hello,

Our Easter celebration continues. We continue to celebrate the gift of our salvation. God loves so much that He took on human nature and died, rose from the dead, and ascended back to heaven. It is because of this Resurrection that we too have the hope of rising to eternal life.

In the first reading we hear about Paul and Barnabas proclaim the Gospel in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. It says they went there to strengthen the spirits of the disciples, the believers. They told the people, “It was necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” How hard is your life? Not that we should be masochists and seek out pain and suffering, but at the same time, being a Christian, we should expect there to be some pain and suffering as we try to live differently than how the world is telling us to live. True love alters the way we live. I remember being in 4th or 5th grade. I had a crush on a girl and she invited me to go to the pool with her. I think that is the fastest I ever did my paper route. When we realize that we are loved by God and love Him back, it should alter the way we live. Is being a Christian just a label we give ourselves or does our relationship with Jesus alter the way we live? In the Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples to love one another. Love does not require that we be nice to each other. Love does not ask us to agree to disagree. Love asks us to seek truth, good, and beauty together. True love has the flexibility to be challenged to change for the good, for the better. True love desires the good of the other, the ultimate good (God) for the other. 

I pray that this week you are loved and challenged to become a better person today than you were yesterday.

Peace of Christ,

Father Vogel

Bulletin Article for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (May 12, 2019)

Dear Easter People,

Things are winding down for me. MSU had finals this past week so we are starting the summer Mass schedule at the Newman Center this week. We are on our usual schedule here until the first weekend in June. If you haven’t heard, starting June 1, we will have a 6 PM Mass in Mapleton. Then on Sunday, June 2, we will have a 7:30 AM Mass at Good Thunder and a 9:30 AM Mass at Vernon Center.

Do you know the voice of the Good Shepherd? Do you know the voice of the Jesus Christ? In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that His sheep know His voice. It is true we can be inspired by something we see on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, but I believe it is necessary for any Christian serious about becoming a saint, needs to spend time in quiet prayer each day. Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 19, finally hears God’s voice in a still small voice. This is how God often talks to us…in the silence. Thus, to hear Jesus’ voice, we need to spend part of our day in silence. This is the “secret” that all of the saints talk about in growing closer to Christ. Daily silent prayer is part of becoming a saint. Jesus says those who hear His voice and follow Him, will have eternal life. Again, sainthood isn’t for a few, spiritual superheroes. Sainthood is for everyone. We are all called to be saints. We are all called to eternal life in heaven.

I pray you are having and continue to have a blessed Easter season.

God bless,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for the Third Sunday of Easter (May 5, 2019)

Hello,

The Church is still celebrating Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus. May we continue to praise God for His divine mercy and love.

This weekend we have First Communion at St. Joseph’s and St. Teresa’s. Next Saturday will be First Communion at St. Matthew’s. Please pray for these young people that they may welcome Jesus Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity into their bodies and hearts in a radical transformative way. We all need to pray, including me, for the grace never to take for granted the Eucharist. We receive it so often – a lot of us every week; some of us every day – so it is easy to take for granted that the Creator of the Universe comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine. Sometimes we think it would be cool to be a disciple of Jesus 2000 years ago. It must have been amazing to see Jesus, to hear Him speak, to interact with Him. And yet before the Resurrection, only the Apostles at the Last Supper were able to take Jesus into their own bodies. In receiving the Eucharist into our bodies, we are closer to Christ, we are more intimate, than the disciples were 2000 years ago. What a great gift the Eucharist is!!

This weekend, we hear Jesus give Peter the chance to redeem himself. After being a coward and denying Jesus three times, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. St. John records that Peter got distressed that Jesus would ask him a third time if he loves Him, but Jesus knew that Peter needed to make up for the three times he denied Jesus. Jesus also knew that Peter needed to say and hear himself say that he loved Him. Jesus is so good to us. He gives us not just what we want, but what we need. Maybe you have been distressed or exasperated with God. St. Teresa of Avila said to God after falling into the mud during a fierce rainstorm, “If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder why You have so few of them!” I’m sure we can relate to this sentiment. In all things, trust God. We know and believe that He loves us more than we love ourselves. He knew that Peter needed to be reassured of their relationship because of the hardships that were to come for Peter, especially in his martyrdom. So pray for the grace to trust and love God in all times and places.

Peace of Christ,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for Divine Mercy Sunday (the Second Sunday of Easter) (April 28, 2019)

Happy Easter!

We are still in the Octive of Easter. For eight days the Catholic Church celebrates every day as if it were Easter. So today is still a high feast day. So go out to eat. Get some extra ice cream. Go a little crazy. Jesus has risen from the dead!! Alleluia! 

I probably told this to you last year, but in 2000, Saint Pope John Paul II declared the Sunday after Easter to be Divine Mercy Sunday. The Divine Mercy devotion was originated with Saint Faustina Kowalska of Poland in the early 20th century. In her diary (which you can buy and read – and I encourage you to do so – it is good spiritual reading), she describes Jesus’ great desire for us to know and to be open to receiving His great mercy. The devotion states that the Hour of Mercy is 3 PM, the time that Jesus died on the Cross. A common way to live out the devotion is to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It is super easy. I do it every day. You just need a Rosary. It usually takes me 6-7 minutes to pray the whole Divine Mercy Chaplet. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has great mercy on the Apostles, disciples, and especially the Apostle Thomas. Jesus appears to the Apostles and breathes on them. He again gives them the power to forgive sins. However, Thomas was not with them. Thus, He did not believe the other Apostles when they told Him they had seen Jesus. Thomas was not with them. He had given up. He had gone back to his former way of life. But finally they were able to talk Thomas into joining them. And when He did, Jesus appeared again and invited Thomas to believe. 

We are all believers. But we are all believers at different point of the journey. So no matter where you are on the journey, pray for and believe in God’s infinite mercy and believe in Jesus Christ more and more with each passing day.

May Easter Celebrations continue,

Father Vogel 

Bulletin Article for Palm Sunday (April 14, 2019)

The end is near!…of Lent that is. Today we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus is treated like the King He is. People gather along the streets and lay palm branches and cloaks along the road. Luke records that the people shouted with great joy praising God saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” They could not get enough of Jesus. They had seen all of the great miracles Jesus had done. He had won over the people even if the leaders still resisted Him. 

Today kicks off the holiest week of the year. Again, we kick the week off with Palm Sunday. We move through the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and finally end with the Resurrection. Sometimes people ask me why crosses in the Catholic Church have a body on them. Most of our Protestant brothers and sisters do not have a body on their crosses. Jesus has risen so why do we bodies on our crosses? Yes, Jesus has risen, but rising was the easy part. It was the sweating of blood, the arrest, betrayal of friends, the scrounging, the humiliation of the crown of thorns, the weariness of carrying the cross, and finally the excruciating pain of dying on the cross that was the hard part. But Jesus did this because He has an eternal loving thirst for the salvation of each one of us. Not to be a party-pooper, but if we are honest about our lives, hopefully we have lots of times of joy, but even in the joy, most often life a struggle…a struggle to become better today than we were yesterday. A struggle to overcome the evil that drags us down. When we are struggling, we can join our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ and not rely on our own strength. Colossians 1:24 says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” In some ways there is nothing lacking in Christ’s afflictions on the Cross. His sufferings and death on the Cross covers anyone’s sins who avail themselves to the forgiveness and mercy of God. However, our lives often contain suffering. We can join our sufferings to Christ’s on the Cross for the redemption of humanity. Jesus allows us to participate in the redemption of humanity through our own suffering. Suffering does not need to be wasted. It can be, when joined to Christ on the Cross, because the means of some of the most powerful prayer there is. If you are suffering, know that you are not alone. Look at a crucifix and know that you are not suffering alone. Christ is suffering with you and you with Christ on His Cross. Give Him your emptiness and loneliness. He is strong enough to bear it. He did so just for you on the Cross.

This is a glorious week. Good triumphs over evil. The victory is secured. Allow yourself to enter deeply into the mystery of each day of the Triduum. I hope to see you.

God bless,

Father Vogel