Is Pope Francis Confused?

09-29-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have been asked on a number of occasions about the recent interviews with Pope Francis. There has been a bit of confusion both in the media and in the minds of those who may have read part of his recent article. Misinformation and half-truths can go a long way to confuse well-intentioned Catholics. Sadly, many in the media have settled on reporting misinformation and half-truths.

I was reminded of my seminary days when my professor would assign us term papers in which we had to use primary sources--in others words, the historical figures own thoughts and words. It was hard work because we could not just use another's opinion in the paper. Why is it important to go directly to the source? Because you tend to lose something when you hear it second hand. It's kind of like knowing about Jesus instead of knowing Jesus.

With this in mind, I challenge you to read Pope Francis' interview: I think you'll be shocked, even angered by what the press has done to misrepresent Pope Francis. I read the 18-page article a few weeks ago after hearing dozens of press reports that the pope is "lightening up" about the issues of gay marriage, contraception and abortion and charting a vastly different approach than his predecessors.


Sharing Your Gifts

09-22-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In today's Gospel Our Lord speaks about "mammon". Mammon in this instance can mean money. Our Lord has often reminded us that our money (and possessions) can quickly posses us. We can become slaves to money. Now money is not evil or good. As a matter of fact, Bible does not say "money is the root of all evil," but the bible does say that the "love of money is the root of all evil."

Sadly, many people are very attached to money and to making more of it. Please don't misunderstand me. Making more money is not necessarily wrong. The notion of using your gifts, your intelligence and your energy to provide and income for yourself and your family is a good thing. It is the desire to have more and more money/possessions that can quickly leads to spending more and more money. Spending more money, having more things means having more responsibility. Our Lord reminds us that "much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more" (Luke 12:48). Our Lord refers to this notion of using our resources responsibly as "good stewardship".


Altar Server – "Light of the World"

09-15-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I give thanks to God for our altar servers. Week after week, year after year, many of these servants of God have been a beautiful witness to Christ – The Light of the World! The altar server often has a candlestick in his or her hand reminding us of Christ - the One, True, Light. Their service is often times not limited to the inside of a church. Many of our altar servers let the light of Christ shine in their everyday life: in school, in the family, and in our world. Those who desire to serve Jesus Christ inside a church must be His witness everywhere. Many of people live in darkness. They do not know Christ. Let us pray for our altar servers. May they continue to be the light of the Gospel to all those who are in darkness and are living through a difficult time in their life. Blessed Pope John Paul II once said: "Altar servers are much more than simple "helpers of the parish priest." Above all, you are servers of Jesus Christ, of the eternal High Priest. Thus, you, altar servers, are called in particular to be young friends of Jesus. Be determined to go deeper and to cultivate this friendship with him. You will discover that in Jesus you have found a true friend for life.


Back to School

09-08-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I always liked this time of year. Going back to school was sort of exciting – call me weird. I liked seeing my classmates and hanging out with friends. I even looked forward to my first day of Kindergarten – just ask my mom. Recently, I have been thinking about education and religious education in particular. Today, I want to reflect on our role as parents/catechists. Our Lord wants us to take our responsibility in handing on the faith very seriously. A reminder of our role is part the baptismal rite of children in the Catholic Church where parents commit before God to the Christian education of their children. The rite reminds parents (and godparents) of their duty to bring their children up by teaching them the law of Christ and His Church. This is a very serious obligation that parents have promised to Our Lord.

As we begin this school year, I have been praying for parents of students of all ages — from preschool to post graduate — that for the sake of our culture, they will take their education seriously but most importantly, they would seek to learn and to live the Catholic faith. Teaching and living the faith is in fact, the most important thing that parents for their children. For above all else, parents must prepare their children for the journey and the road to heaven, by word and example.


Respect Life = Respect Marriage

09-01-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Marriage is a precious gift from God and a dramatic way for one to live life. For those who are called to marriage and live it according to God's plan, eternal joy in heaven awaits you. Sadly, our very confused government who are called to defend marriage as God's gift is seeking to redefine marriage in a way that is contrary to God.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has said:

"Our nation and government have the duty to recognize and protect marriage, not tamper with and redefine it, nor to caricature the deeply held beliefs of so many citizens as 'discrimination,'" His statement followed the February 23 announcement that President Obama has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a move Archbishop Dolan called an "alarming and grave injustice."


Strive to enter by the narrow gate.

08-25-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A man asks Jesus, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" His question is not something new. Many people wonder if only a few people get to heaven or will almost everyone make it? Our Lord answers this question of our salvation. Today Our Lord speaks about people coming "from east and west, north and south" to "recline at the table in the kingdom of God." Some people hear verses like that and conclude that it is fairly easy to get into heaven, that a person would have to sin "big time" in order to wind up in hell. That is a comforting view.

Before we get too comfortable with this conclusion, listen to what else Jesus says to us. He says, "Strive to enter by the narrow gate." And he speaks about people who thought they had it made are actually locked out. Our Lord wants you and me to consider the possibility that we might not be saved. Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar - who was one of the gentlest of all theologians - put it this way: "It is indispensable that every individual Christian be confronted, in the greatest seriousness, with the possibility of his becoming lost."


Light a Fire

08-18-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our Lord says, "I did not come to establish peace, but I have come to establish division." What? Did the Prince of Peace just say that? Did Jesus really come to establish division? Many people wrongly believe that Our Lord came or peace for good reason. The Sacred Scripture refer to Jesus and peace often. How can we make sense of this apparent contradiction?

Our Lord is speaking about what can cause division in people's lives. Our Lord is telling us that Truth can cause division in families' lives. For example, a member of a family may have discovered the truth about the Catholic Church. Most of his life, he has been told lies about the Church. Now, he comes to realize the truth. So he enters the Church. The problem is that the rest of the family doesn't see the truth as he sees it. They think he's out of his mind. The result is that the family is divided because of his decision to follow Our Lord. Truth causes division!

Another example would be a daughter who is pregnant wants to have an abortion. But her mother knows the truth. Her mother knows that this is another human being in the womb. So the mother does her best to save the child and the daughter does her best to get an abortion. In the process the two are divided which brings the entire family to be divided as well. Truth causes division!


Be prepared. Be vigilant.

08-11-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today Our Lord reminds us to be vigilant, watchful, and on your guard. Sadly, many people are vigilant and watchful and on guard about things that in the end really don't matter. Our Lord invites us to watch for Him and the things of Heaven and to avoid sin and the devil.

Maybe you have heard the story about a demon assigned to tempt a young man. It was his first assignment so the "junior devil" discussed his strategy with a senior devil. "I know how to bring this young man down," he said, "I will convince him there is no God." The senior devil said, "That's fine for some, but it will not work for this young man. All he has to do is look at the night sky and he will realize that God exists." The junior tempter said, "Well, then I will convince him there is no devil." The senior tempter said, "That approach has more promise, but if he looks around his neighborhood, he will realize the devil exists." Then the senior tempter said, "Here's the best plan. Don't try to convince him that there is no God or that there is no devil. Just tell him there is no hurry."


Catholic Academy for Life Leadership (C.A.L.L.)

08-04-2013Pastor's LetterBishop Thomas J. Olmsted

Dear Parents and Teens,

How blessed we are to be Catholic! With the constant assault on our youth from the current culture, it is difficult to hear the consistent and positive message of our Catholic faith when it teaches about life, love, and the value and dignity of each person. We need only look at the confusion regarding sexual behavior and its devastating effects on our teens, on marriages, on families, and on society to know we are in a battle. We want our teens to make it through their youth without stepping on a mine in this cultural minefield and especially to make it through their college years and into their future vocations with a thriving and growing faith.

Parents, as the first teachers of their children, now have the Catholic Academy for Life Leadership to help them in guiding their teens through these years and into a happy, healthy, and holy future. The Catholic Academy for Life Leadership (C.A.L.L.) is a three-year program that will meet just four times a year to offer high school students service and leadership opportunities, as well as formation in topics of life and love such as the Theology of the Body, relationships, marriage, the beauty of human biology, and bioethics. When they get these topics of life and love right, our youth will be better prepared for marriage, or the call to the priesthood or religious life. They will be presented with a Catholic worldview and furthered in their journey of understanding our faith, which is based on the knowledge that we are made to love and be loved in the image and likeness of God.


True Freedom

07-28-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Greg Menegay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Forty-five years ago, in July of 1968, the late Pope Paul VI released the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," (Of Human Life). This encyclical upheld the Church's traditional teaching prohibiting the use of artificial contraception and emphasizing that human life is sacred from the very moment of conception. This encyclical also predicted that widespread use of contraception would lead to an increase in marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. How true this prediction has become as we now live in a society plagued with adultery, abortion, pornography and a growing lack of respect for the sacred institution of marriage.

However, in spite of the moral decline that has taken place, or perhaps because of it, many people are turning to the wisdom of the Church and discovering that there is a better way. By familiarizing themselves with the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body," and "Natural Family Planning," Catholics are discovering the "gift" of human sexuality, and how by following God's plan in this area one can experience tremendous peace and joy. Consider the following quote from Humanae Vitae; "Conjugal love reveals its true nature and nobility when it is considered in its supreme origin, God, who is love, the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on earth is named."


That Man is You

07-21-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Greg Menegay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

While Fr. Kline is away on some well deserved R&R he asked me to cover his column, so the Pastor's column will be the Parochial Vicar's column for the next couple of weeks.

This past winter we successfully launched a Catholic Men's Fellowship group here at the parish. We met on Saturday mornings from 7:00am until 8:30am and the morning consisted of an instructional DVD, small group discussion, and, of course, bagels, donuts, and coffee. It was a good opportunity for men in the parish to get to know each other; learn about the faith; and support each other in living their faith. All in all it was a good beginning.

Beginning Saturday, September14, we're going to begin our second season of Catholic Men's Fellowship. The core team and I are very excited because we will be using a program that is spreading rapidly in parishes throughout the U.S. entitled "That Man is You!" The following is an excerpt from one of the promotional brochures; "That Man is You! Is an interactive men's program focused on the development of men in the modern world. It combines the best research from science with the teachings of the Catholic faith and the wisdom of the saints to develop the vision of authentic men capable of transforming themselves, their families and greater society." The program is divided into two 13 week sessions, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. All men 18 and above are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Stewardship & Gratitude

07-14-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sister in Christ,

As I begin my fifth year as pastor of St. Joan of Arc, I have been reflecting on the question: Why am I here? The obvious reason I am here at St. Joan of Arc: Bishop Olmsted sent me to this parish. Bishop sent me here. I suppose I have had any number of responses to being sent here, but I would say that my daily response to God is one of gratitude.

Some of things I am grateful for would include the incredible campus… it is incredible because of the many people involved in making it so. I am grateful for the faith and sacrifice of those who entrusted this holy place to us. When I came in 2008, I was impressed by the Stewardship of many parishioners who sacrificed their time, their treasure and their talent to build the beautiful campus and church we now enjoy. There wasn't a police officer to arrest you if you didn't contribute every week to the collection. Nobody asked you how much you make every year or told you what to do with your hard earned money. No one made you become volunteer or how you must help to keep St. Joan of Arc in operation. Everything you give… your time, your abilities and your financial resources, these things are a free gift… and many of you gave with a grateful heart.



07-07-2013Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we observe Independence Day celebrations every year, we hear the word freedom being bantered around a lot. But the problem is, in our country today, our understanding of what freedom is and what it is supposed to be used for is dramatically disordered. That is, we see freedom primarily, often only, as "freedom from." Ask many Americans today and they will most likely tell you that freedom means freedom from something or someone. Men and women have come to the United States for over 230 years to escape from tyranny and oppression—all good things.

Instead of only thinking about "freedom from" we, as Catholics, need to be thinking of, "freedom for what?" Moving away from the pitfalls of the "freedom from" mentality, we need to reflect this Independence Day on what freedom is ultimately for.

So what do we use freedom for? St. Paul reminds us, "For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters, but do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love."