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

March 2015 Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

It’s almost March. It’s hard to believe. The year is going quickly. I hope you are having a blessed Lent. What a great time. There is a lull between winter activities and spring activities. Even so, our lives remain busy. I cannot encourage you enough to take some extra time for prayer during this Lenten season.

I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about the good of doing something for Lent. Now those of you who gave something up for Lent, keep it up. Disciplining ourselves is good, especially for us Americans. We are so used to getting what we want when we want. Just like an athlete it is good to start small and work ourselves up to bigger weights, longer runs, or other such things. In the spiritual life we start small with maybe giving up a snack or giving up certain deserts. This trains our desires to be in submission to our will instead of will being in submission to our desires. Now not all desires are bad. Some are good, but because of the Fall, some of our desires aren’t in our best interest. Eating a whole box of chocolates may be desirable, but it is not good for us. Watching TV all day may be relaxing, but it is probably not good for us. So in giving things up for Lent, we train our wills to become stronger so that we are free to become the best version of ourselves and we become less controlled by our bad desires.

However, my friend from Facebook asked if it was OK to do something in the positive. I said yes. That’s how we grew up. Pope Francis seems to be saying this too. He is arguing not just to give something up, but to do something positive for others. So take some time during Lent to do something special. Maybe help out at a food kitchen. Help out at the Food Shelf in Fulda. Or at Ester’s Kitchen in Marshall. Or sit with someone new at lunch time, maybe someone who doesn’t seem to have a lot of people to talk to.

The end goal is to become less selfish and more focused on others and God. The end goal is to grow in holiness, to prepare ourselves for eternal life in Heaven. To do this, we need to realize our weaknesses. In humility, we then realize how much we need Christ and His forgiveness and mercy that He extends to us from the Cross, from Good Friday.

Please pray for me that this Lenten season is a one of growth in holiness. I will pray the same for you.

God bless,
Father Vogel

February 2015 Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

Christmas season just got over. This year we only get five and half weeks of Ordinary Time in. We don’t get back to Ordinary Time until Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day. In between we have the seasons of Lent and Easter. As always, we’ll begin the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on February 18th.

Ash Wednesday Schedule:
Mass at St. Anthony – 7 AM
Service at Maple Lawn – 4 PM
Mass at St. Gabriel – 5:30 PM
Mass at IHM – 7:15 PM

On Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes on our foreheads with the words, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Both of these statements are good reminders of our fallen human nature. We don’t dwell on this to cause that classic Catholic guilt. Rather we dwell on this to remind ourselves just how hopeless we are without Jesus. It prevents us from taking our getting to heaven for granted. Yes, the Fall did not completely remove our ability to do good, but in order to be saved, in order to get to heaven, we have zero chance without Christ.

As I’m writing this, I am still working on the schedule, but this year, I’m hoping to lead more of the Stations of the Cross. I invite you to come weekly and participate in this wonderful devotion. If you have ever seen the movie The Passion of the Christ, you have an inkling of just how much pain and suffering Jesus went through for our salvation. Praying the Stations of the Cross is a great way of reminding of us how great Jesus gift of forgiveness truly is. It is also a reminder of how should more readily offer forgiveness and mercy to others who have wronged us. Unless, we understand the gravity of our sin, we will never know the greatness of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.

The ashes we receive on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday are made from the burning of blessed palms left over from Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem as King. He rides into town to much fanfare and support. However, less than a week later, the dark fallen side of human nature manifests itself. They end up crucifying the very one they hailed as king. Ashes remind us then of our fallenness, but they also remind us that Jesus should be King of our lives. We may fail to make Jesus King of our lives and make ashes of God’s love and mercy, but we shouldn’t give up. We ask for forgiveness, we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation if we need to, and then we start again.

I cannot encourage you enough to give God a chance. If you have felt burdened by anything, I dare you to try the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometime during Lent. (Times and places will be announced later.) I promise, God’s love and mercy is great enough to set you free.

May you have a blessed February and start to Lent.

Peace out,
Father Vogel

January 2015 Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

Happy New Year! Actually, when you receive this, it will still be the old year. However, this is the January 2015 Trumpet so we might as well go for it. It is good to have goals. My two personal goals for 2015 is to pay off my car loan and to learn Spanish well enough to say have a simple conversation and to pray the Mass in Spanish.

My goals for the parishes are to increase the opportunities for learning more about our Catholic faith and the truths she teaches. I am hoping to start some faith sharing groups to view and discuss the Symbolon DVD series from the Augustine Institute. Look for this to start sometime early in the year. My greatest desire though if for people to fall in love with Jesus, especially the youth. So if you have suggestions on how to make this happen, I’m listening.

Speaking of teachings of the Church. One teaching is the inherent dignity of each and every human person. Every human soul has the potential for love, reason, and free will. Sometimes, maybe due to an accident, maybe due to genetics (down syndrome), maybe by old age, a particular human person are not able to actualize these potentials. Although I would argue that some people with down syndrome love better than we who aren’t mentally challenged. This is also true of those that don’t even look human; those in the very earliest stages of life. They may not look like a human person and they may not be able to reason and exercise their free will; but they are a human person because their soul is human and thus contains the potential of a human body and the potential to love, reason, and use their free will. It’s not like the human fetus has any chance of becoming a giraffe. So from the moment of conception, there is a human soul defining the baby as a human person. While in the womb, this dignity as a human person is not determined by whether or not the human person is wanted by his or her mother and/or father. It is inherent because of the human soul that God gave the baby at the moment of conception. And no the mother does not have a right to do with the baby whatever she wants. She has a right to her body, yes. But the baby is not part of her body. The baby has a different DNA code than the mother. Thus the fetus, the baby, is not part of her body. That is simple logic. Now if you have had an abortion or if you have encouraged someone to get an abortion, God loves you and wants to forgive you. If this is you, come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and let God’s love and mercy heal you. I bring this up because this month, specifically January 22, is the 41st anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court decision to make abortion legal in the United States. It has been estimated that over 50 million babies have lost their lives during this time. On January 22nd, some of youth are traveling to the Minnesota state capital to rally and support the dignity of every single human life, especially those still in the womb. You can support them with your prayers, especially that they learn how precious every single life is and how dire this issue is for the moral and civic (and I would argue financial) well-being of our nation and world. If you would like to support them financially, to help defray the cost of the trip, just let Lisa Kremer know.

As for the restoration of St. Gabriel’s, we had a wonderful Mass last Sunday, Sunday, December 14th. The Bishop said a beautiful Mass. The church was full. The soup afterwards was delicious. Thank you to all of you who worked so hard to make the day special. Thanks you so much. Again, the two big items left are to put in the remaining stain-glass windows and to reinstall the pipe organ. Both of these things should happen the first full week of January. There are a million small things still left to be done, but the end is in sight. Thank you again for all of your support and prayers since April 9, when the fire changed all of our lives.

Take care and Happy New Year,

Father Vogel

December Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

Hello,

Advent is just around the corner. What a great time of the year. Actually Advent begins the year for the Church. So even though New Years hasn’t come yet, it is a new year in the life of the Church. So welcome to 2015…a little early. During Advent, the liturgical color changes from green (Ordinary Time) to purple. Purple has several meanings. One, is it is the color of penance. This is especially true during the season of Lent, the season leading up to Easter. However, it is true to a lesser extent during the season of Advent. This is why some of you may remember from growing up that weddings were not allowed during Advent or Lent. Now, the Church leaves it up to the bishop. Weddings are allowed in our diocese, but the Rite of Marriage does say, “When marriage is celebrated during Advent or Lent or other days of penance, the parish priest should advise the couple to take into consideration the special nature of these times.” So it allowed, but even though Holy Matrimony is a moment of great celebration, because of the season, the celebrating should be moderated.

However, this also points to the fact that even outside the celebrating of weddings, this is a penitential time. It is a time of reflection. It is a time of doing extra acts of penance as reparation for the times we have failed to love God and our neighbor. It is a time of saying sorry. It is a great time to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This year I have decided to continue what I did for Lent last year. I will be in the Confessional at different times throughout the day, each parish getting on day. Then on Saturday, December 20th, I will be spending an hour at each parish in case you can’t make it during the week. Check elsewhere in the bulletin for the complete schedule. Also, the surrounding clusters are having Reconciliation services. Either look in the Trumpet, bulletin, or call the Fulda office for the times and places. I cannot encourage you enough to take this opportunity to receive God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.

This is all to lead up to celebrating that God, the Creator of the universe, became one of us, took on human nature. God, the Creator, becomes part of His own creation. And even then, He didn’t come as a powerful wealthy person. Rather He came as a helpless baby, born of two insignificant humble people, Mary and Joseph. Jesus is King of the Universe, but He comes to us in a barn, being laid in an animal trough. He who is to feed the nations (in the Eucharist) is laid in an animal feeding trough. As we get closer and closer to Christmas, remember the humility in which the King of Universe came among us. Remember also that there are twelve days of Christmas. This doesn’t mean we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then we’re done. No, this is such a momentous event in the salvation of humanity, we rightfully celebrate for a couple of weeks. Remember to take time to continue celebrating Christmas in your families and in your heart for the full duration of the Christmas season.

Speaking of moderated celebrating, Bishop John Quinn is coming to Fulda, Sunday, December 14th. He is going to help celebrate the blessing of being back in the renovated church. Because he can’t get here earlier, on that Sunday, St. Gabriel and St. Anthony are going to switch Mass times. So on Sunday, December 14th, St. Anthony will have Mass at 8:30 AM and St. Gabriel will have Mass at 10:30 AM. After the celebration Mass in Fulda, we are having a soup meal downstairs. There will be other activities celebrating the gift God has given us of being back in the church. People from the IHM and St. Anthony, even others, are obviously welcome to join us and the bishop in celebrating and giving thanks for St. Gabriel’s.

Things are going well. The stain glass windows are scheduled to be put in the first couple of weeks of December and the pipe organ is still scheduled for January.

Thank you for the blessings of the past year. It has been a great gift serving you. May God continue to bless us and do great things with and in us.

Thanks and blessings,

Father Vogel

November Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

This is again a special time of year. The trees are amazing with bright colors. Harvest is in full swing. So we continue to pray for the farmers, for their safety and for an abundant harvest. As we get closer to the end of the growing season, we take time to give thanks to God for all of our blessings, both spiritual and material. We thank God for all of the special occasions that have happened this year: weddings, First Communions, Baptisms, Confirmations, and others. All tremendous gifts from God. All signs of new life, life in Christ.

St. Gabriel’s is coming along. We will be back in the church in November. However, the renovation will continue into the next year as at least the pipe organ will not be reinstalled until January. So continue to pray for the workers. Pray for their safety and hard work. Remember that Bishop Quinn is coming to celebrate our restored church with us on Sunday, December 14th at 10:30 AM. (So that Sunday, Mass will be at St. Anthony’s at 8:30 AM.)

Also please keep Levi Zins and Tori Jeffers in your prayers as they prepare for Holy Matrimony on Saturday, November 29th.

Also, during November we remember those who have passed, especially those in the past year. Their souls may be in Heaven or Purgatory (or Hell). If a soul is in hell, prayers can’t help them. If a soul is in heaven, they don’t need our prayers. (Our prayers for them are then used for another soul in Purgatory.) If a soul in Purgatory, our prayers can help their purification, their preparation for entrance into heaven. We pray for the souls in Purgatory at every Mass.

In this week’s Gospel we hear Jesus tell the Pharisees the two greatest commandments. One, to love God and the second, to love our neighbor. Love means to make of a gift of oneself to another. This is choice more than it is a feeling. Love means putting the good of the other ahead of yourself. Sometimes this involves tough love because they may not want to hear or do what is best for them, but we have to love them enough to get them to try. Love really does make the world go round. God is love. (1 John 4:8) God, love, created the universe, created us. Love, God’s love, is the purpose of our existence.

Peace and love of Christ,

Father Vogel

August Trumpet Letter to Parishioners

Hello. August is a great month, one of endings and beginnings. As summer comes to a close we go on last minute vacations. We make some great memories. Maybe even lament what could have been. In the midst of all the flourish of activity it is good to take some time to not only thank God for keeping us safe, but for our Blessed Mother for being with us. On Friday, August 15th, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a solemnity and a Holy Day of Opportunity (Obligation). We believe that at the end of her life Mary was assumed into heaven. The Catholic Church has never said whether she died or not before this happened, but either way her body was assumed into heaven uncorrupted and undecayed. Even though this event is not recorded in the Bible, we know from the Tradition passed on down that this happened. We know from the Bible that others were assumed into heaven. For instance, the prophet Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind of chariots and horses into heaven. If this important prophet from the Old Testament was taken body and soul directly into heaven, how much more would God do the same for the very body and soul that carried the very person of God, Jesus, inside their body. This is one of the many reasons Mary is held up as the greatest human person to have ever lived. She was and is greatly blessed by God.

We are blessed this year, because the Harvest Mass, the diocesan Mass that celebrates the rural roots of diocese in connection with the fruitfulness of Mary’s womb in our salvation is being celebrated in our back yard. It is at the Knuth’s Sudden Creek Shire Horse Farm (1014  140th  Ave., Slayton, MN 56172), just west of Slayton. Mass starts at 11 AM with dinner afterwards. I strongly encourage you to go. I realize it is during work hours, but if you can get it off, it is a great celebration of Mary, our connection to God’s creation, and all the work our farmers do to feed the world.

I am gone as of the writing of this article. (I will be back this weekend.) So the last I heard, St. Gabriel’s is still on schedule to be done by mid October. So continue to pray for the safety and efficiency of all involved.

Many blessings and grace,

Father Vogel