The Mark

08-31-2014Pastor's LetterSeminarian Jonathan Matthes

The Mark

A note from Seminarian Jonathan Matthes

To say the setting for our story is the Middle East is not specific enough. No we must narrow it down. More specific than a country like Syria or Iraq, more specific even than a city like Raqqa or Mosel. To tell this tale properly we must focus past the neighborhood, past the street, past the house all the way down to the door.

But why the door? It looks just like any door that could be found on any house throughout the Arab world.

Wait, what's that?

There's a mark in the corner. What is that? When scribbled hastily it looks like a "u" maybe even a smile. When stenciled properly it resembles an upside-down question mark or maybe even the soviet sickle. Of course it is none of those things.

What it is, is the Arabic letter "n" (pronounced "noon"), it is short for the world "Nasara" or in English "Nazarene". It is a slur directed at the home's inhabitants: Christians.


Back to School

08-24-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It has been an interesting August. Many families and students have kept me apprised of their return to school on all levels—grade school, high school and college. Some students asked for special blessings for safe travels and a good year. Let us pray for all our students, in school and in religious education. May they make holy decisions that will help them grow closer to Jesus.

As we begin this new school year, I have been thinking about education and catholic education in particular. In general, my thoughts return that baptismal rite of children in the Catholic Church when parents commit to the Christian education of their children. The rite reminds parents of their duty to bring their children up by teaching them the law of Christ and His Church.

At St. Joan of Arc, over the next few weeks, our school will open and our religious education programs will begin another year. Parents, please remember that the work of these important apostolates are supplemental to your efforts on the home front. In other words, the bl essi ngs of my reli gi ous education only assisted my parents in their work at home. My parents taught me to pray. My parents taught me to live a moral life. My parents instilled in me the need to serve others in Christ's name. My parents taught me how to repent from my sins. My parents opened my eyes to the vocation of priesthood that, in the end, has made me the most happy. I pray that this parental call for your children is one of your top priorities during this academic year!



08-17-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

You have probably heard the expression: "Catholic guilt." Some may wonder if there are different kinds of guilt. The answer is yes. Guilt usually has a negative connotation because the "guilt" causes heartache and suffering. Certain kinds of guilt are inappropriate and should be avoided when possible. However, all guilt isn't always bad.

A priest friend of mine told me about a book he is reading called, The Devil You Don't Know by a priest named Fr. Louis Cameli. He begins the book by talking about guilt and makes three helpful distinctions. He begins by saying that guilt is a feeling with limited staying power. That is, most times, we only carry it for a little while before it leads to other feelings, good and bad.

At times, guilt is an appropriate and helpful feeling! Guilt often spurs us to make things right. It sparks conversion and repentance as well as interior honestly. If we didn't have feelings of guilt, the confessional would be a lonely place for a priest! Healthy guilt, when dealt with honestly can lead to true repentance. If there is no repentance then there is no healing from the pain of our sinful choices.

By contrast, sometimes the feeling of guilt is unhelpful and unhealthy. That is, sometimes, as Cameli puts it, "the guilt we carry doesn't match the reality and is therefore inappropriate." For example, I challenge many parents to stop feeling guilty when, despite their best efforts, their grown son or daughter has made poor choices. I tell such parents that, "It is not your problem! They're adults! They need to be responsible for their choices!"


Handing on the Faith (part II of II)

08-10-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Parents and grandparents are irreplaceable apostles. This is a concise way of saying that adults have a vital role in preserving the faith and handing it on to future generations. I found a few tips to help Catholic parents and grandparents pass on the faith and I added a few from my own experience.

Hearing you pray out loud for them will move your children and grandchildren. Pray specifically about their future, their education and their faith. Pray about your desire to see them someday in heaven. Also, read stories to them about the saints and tailor those stories to match their interests (There is a saint for everything!)

A pilgrimage. I have fond memories of mini-pilgrimages to Catholic places—cathedrals, shrines, Catholic colleges, a convent or a seminary. Some families who are financially blessed might consider a trip to Rome or the Holy Land (when bombs aren't falling). These experiences will help shape young hearts and minds for a lifetime. Grandparents, a Catholic bookstore is also a wonderful place to spend your children's inheritance with your grandchildren! Buying sacramentals like prayer books, statues, rosaries and the like will keep a pilgrimage alive for years to come!


Handing on the Faith (part I of II)

08-03-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The most highly blessed grandparents of human history were Sts. Anne and Joachim. Their grandson was Jesus and we celebrated their feast day on July 26. Their influence on Mary enabled her to say "Yes" to Our Lord. Her openness to God's plan was because her parents taught her about God and the things of God.
The Gospels do not have too much to say about Mary's parents. What we do know is that parents do have a vital role to play in forming their children in the faith.
Research shows that many young people do not know much about the faith. Tragically, some adults aren't much better! That is why we are offering classes for parents in the Religious Education program. We cannot give what we don't have. To share the faith, you need to know the faith. Teaching your children the faith is primarily the work of the parent. If parents are unable to do their job in teaching children the faith, then grandparents must step in to help. The Church is here to support you, not to do your job.

To help our children, the Bishops have suggested that parents and grandparents can be amazing in helping young people understand the faith. Parents and grandparents are irreplaceable apostles. This is a concise way of saying that adults have a vital role in preserving the faith and handing it on to future generations. I found a few tips to help Catholic parents and grandparents pass on the faith and I added a few from my own experience.