JMJ The Holy Family

12-28-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Some of you may be familiar with a great Catholic school tradition and that is to put the letters "JMJ" on the top of all your papers, tests, homework and anything else you may be writing on at the time. This was to remind us as Catholic students to do our best work in honor of the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph whom we celebrate today.

It's amazing how little we know of the inner life of the Holy Family. The Gospels speak of the events around Jesus' birth in Bethlehem and his presentation in the temple, the flight into Egypt and the finding of Jesus in the temple. Then, outside of the fact that Jesus grew in wisdom and was obedient to his parents; there is a huge pause in information. They're known as the "hidden years."


The Final Sunday of Advent

12-21-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we begin this last Sunday of Advent, let us remember that this time before Christmas is to help us find intimacy with God in the midst of our everyday lives.  This year the Fourth Week of Advent is only four days long! As we all know, Wednesday evening is Christmas Eve and Thursday, Christmas.

For many, Christmas is a wonderful time of the year—food, presents, children, decorations, cookies, and family traditions. It is a time for parties and remembering, as well as creating, fond memories!

But sometimes, it's the opposite. For those who mourn, it heightens a sense of grief, for example. Some of us are lonely. For some, the Christmas we will celebrate this year pales in comparison to past Christmases, perhaps because we've gotten older… or maybe we are away from loved ones. Others struggle getting along with the family they are with! Perhaps daily struggles, financial or world problems have robbed us of joy this Christmas.


Gaudete Sunday

12-14-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We light the rose colored candle on Gaudete Sunday. On this Sunday of rejoicing, the Church has arrived at the mid-point of Advent. Preparations are half over, Christmas is nearer and we are also closer to what the church calls, the "O Antiphons" of the Advent Season.

We make a transition during the weekdays from December 17 to December 24. In the first days of Advent we focus on the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. Now, we focus on preparing more directly for the remembrance of the Lord's birth.

During these days, both the Liturgy of the Hours and during Mass, we include the traditional "O Antiphons" which express the meaning and spirit of the season.


What is the meaning of the Advent Wreath?

12-05-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Since circles have no beginning and no end, the circular shape of the Advent Wreath is used to symbolize God the Father and eternal life. The wreath holds four candles which are lit over the four weeks of Advent.  The light of the flame is a visual reminder that Christ is "The Light of the World" (John 8:12). There are three violet (purple) candles and one rose candle, each representing 1,000 years. Added together, the four candles symbolize the 4,000 years that humanity waited for the Savior.

Violet is a liturgical color that is used to signify a time of penance, sacrifice, and prayer. During the first two and the last weeks of Advent we light violet candles.  The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. On this day we celebrate that our waiting for Christmas is almost over. Rose is a liturgical color that is used to signify joy, so we light the rose candle on the third Sunday of Advent.


Advent 2014

11-28-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are entering a new liturgical year as well as a new liturgical season this weekend. Advent is perhaps the most countercultural of all the seasons of the Church year, especially when we consider events like "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday."

The Catholic Church explains the season this way: "Advent has a two-fold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's !irst coming is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation."

Hmmm…. a period for "devout and joyful expectation" and a season to prepare ourselves to Christ's Second Coming…Is that what Advent is for you? Devout? Joyful? Preparing for Christ's Second Coming? It is so easy for the noisy expectations of the world to be in con!lict with the beauty and serenity of our faith. It can be so difficult for faith to win out and to let the celebration of Christmas inspire us to become saints!


Deacon's Corner

11-21-2014Pastor's LetterDeacon Peter Auriemma

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I was born in Chicago into a very Catholic family, and my parents were my first teachers of the Faith. Growing up I wanted to serve God as a priest, and I attended Quigley South High School, the Preparatory Seminary for the Archdiocese of Chicago. After graduation, however, I felt that God was calling me to a different vocation than the priesthood. I studied at John Carroll University, and I spent my junior year of college at Loyola University of Chicago's Rome Center. Throughout college, my love for God and my relationship with Him matured, and I loved His Church in a whole new way after living in Rome.

While I enjoyed majoring in Comparative Literature, I felt that God wanted me to serve Him and His people as a physician. I studied medicine and specialized in Urologic Oncology. I have been married to Dr. Nanette Tibbitts, a specialist in Internal Medicine, for 33 years, and we have one son, Anthony James, an aspiring lawyer. I have always actively participated in the life of the Church, but when I began to feel that God was calling me to serve Him as a deacon, I managed to "avoid" responding to His call, despite the encouragement from a very special deacon. When God's call became impossible to ignore, I opened myself to Him, and He sent a very wise and holy priest into my life, who started me on the incredible spiritual journey of Diaconate Formation.


Forming Intentional Disciples (part V of V)

11-07-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The fifth step of conversion is INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP.

You cannot seek forever. Eventually you have to "drop your nets". Our Lord invites us to let go of those things that weigh us down. Jesus invites each one of us to make a conscious commitment to follow Him. This is a deliberate act of the will. An INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP is not passive. An INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP is active and engaged in the relationship that Our Lord is calling them to. As an INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP in the Church, the obedient disciple desires to re-order their life for Our Lord. This is the final step of conversion.

The INTENTIONAL DISCIPLE has moved beyond the phase of the "exploration of Jesus and His Church" to full and complete commitment. This is what Weddell calls the "dropping the net" moment. We are all familiar with the moment Our Lord called Peter to come and follow him – to drop his nets. This moment meant the Peter was to leave behind his former life and livelihood. Dropping his net meant that Peter left behind his friends, his home and even his family. Dropping his nets and following Our Lord wherever He went no matter what the cost(cf. Lk 5:4-10).


Forming Intentional Disciples (part IV of V)

10-31-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The fourth step of conversion involves having SPIRITUAL SEEKING.

A person who is SPIRITUALLY SEEKING Our Lord moves from being passive to being one who actively seeks to know God. A typical question for one who is seeking God will ask: "Are you the one to whom I will give myself?" At this stage, the person who is seeking Our Lord is more engaged in the relationship. There is a deeper desire for spiritual things – things that relate to God. The person seeking God also wants to know if he or she is able to commit their lives to Our Lord and to His Church. Seekers seek Christ.

After a person is open to a relationship with Our Lord, they move to a more direct way of living. People who are SPIRITUALLY SEEKING do not sit idle simply waiting for things to happen. They become ACTIVE SPIRITUAL SEEKERS.


Mercy Killing is Murder

10-24-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With its usual heaping dose of secular manipulation, there was a story that spread through the secular press this past week about a 29-year old California native named Brittany Maynard. Tragically, Maynard was diagnosed last January with terminal brain tumors.

The article, complete with a softly lit photograph of a smiling Maynard with a puppy in her hands laying a hammock, is about her "heroic" decision to move to Oregon so that she can euthanize (kill) herself this Saturday. Of course, according to multiple new sources, it will be a "beautiful" event. She will be surrounded by her family and friends and her decision will help her avoid the "indignity of suffering." The article sickened and saddened me.

Interestingly, one of my closest priest friends had a dear friend who suffered from the same cancer, glioblastoma, just a few years ago. He shared with me that he knows full well the hardships that this woman and her family are enduring. This family needs lots of prayers.


Forming Intentional Disciples (part III of V)

10-17-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The third step of conversion involves having SPIRITUAL OPENNESS.

SPIRITUAL OPENNESS enables a person to acknowledge to himself or herself and to God that he or she is open to the possibility of a personal and spiritual change.

As Weddell admits, this is one of the most difficult transitions for a postmodern nonbeliever simply because it can take a person out of their comfort zone even though they do not have to change right now… they may realize that change is on the horizon. At this stage, a person who is open to God is simply admitting they are open to the possibility of change. A person who has SPIRITUAL OPENNESS may have experienced a struggle or difficulty and so they are now ready to give God a trial run so to speak.


Forming Intentional Disciples (part II of V)

10-12-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The second step of conversion involves having SPIRITUAL CURIOSITY.

“We must be able to talk about Jesus because we can no longer pre- sume solid knowledge of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection” (Weddell, 143). Did you know that only 65% of all Catholics know that Easter is religious holiday and only 37% of Catholics even know that the Resurrection is the meaning of Easter!?!? Protestants were asked the same question about Easter and they were more likely to connect Easter with a religious holiday (78%) and the Resurrection (51%).

When a person is intrigued by or desiring to know more about Jesus or some aspect of the Christian faith they be categorized as having SPIRITUAL CURIOSITY. This could mean that they simply have some new awareness of Our Lord or SPIRITUAL CURIOSITY could mean something life changing. A person at the doorstep of curiosity is not yet open to personal change. Curiosity is still essentially passive, but that person has more than simple trust. A person at this stage is comfortable just knowing about Our Lord rather than being in a rela- tionship with Our Lord.


Forming Intentional Disciples (part I of V)

10-05-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The first step of conversion involves having INITIAL TRUST.

Hopefully, everyone understands what it means to have a friendship with someone else… what it means to have a really good friend. How about having a friendship with Our Lord? As a Catholic, do you have a positive relationship with Jesus Christ, the Church, and other Christian believers? IF you want to move closer to Our Lord then you MUST have INITIAL TRUST. Do you trust that Our Lord loves you and desires to be in a holy relationship with YOU?!?!

An example of INITIAL TRUST is shown in the experience of a young man who was considering the priesthood in the early 80's. He had some understanding of the most basic aspects of the Gospel and teachings of Christ. He was a life-long Catholic from a good Catholic family. He also found that he lived in a culture that was not always supportive of the Church and certainly not receptive to the idea of becoming a priest. He had heard all the rhetoric about how the Church needed to get with the times and allow priests to get married and have a family. He felt the pressure from his classmates to get a "real job" and make lots of money. Then there was the larger culture that made fun of priests and religious often depicting them as backward and out of touch with society.