Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Reformed and in Need of Reform (Catholicism 101)

 Father Tony presented the latest in his Catholicism 101 series:  Reformed and in Need of Reform.  Special "Thank YOU!" to Jon for requesting this topic!  If you would like to submit a topic for a future Catholicism 101, please let Becki know!

Before the discussion on the Reformation and Counter-Reformation began, Father Tony gave a brief explanation to help us understand the world at the time.  Church and political realms had great influence on each other.  As countries and kingdoms were establishing themselves, they also had to decide who had the same over their political and Church lives.  

In the 1500s there were many abuses occurring in the Catholic Church.  They were not abuses of theology, but they did include financial abuse, torture, imprisonment and more.  At that time, because of the money that flowed in and out of parishes and dioceses, Bishops would buy the Church (or the Diocese) so they were owners of the property, rather than custodians of the faith for the people.  Indulgences were sold.  Bishops and priests were untrained and often absent.  

Martin Luther saw real issues with corruption that were happening.  However, instead of working to resolve the issues from within, he chose to leave and start his own Church.  His true goal was not reformation of the current issue but to start over.  He promoted a re-interpretation of Sacred Scripture.  He did not believe in the apostolic line of succession.  Martin Luther also promoted two Sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist) as opposed to the seven Sacraments found in the Catholic Church.  In addition, because of the distrust he had with the Greek authors, all books of the Bible, written in Greek, were expunged from the Bible he used.  This attitude spawned more churches as more people disagreed with Luther and formed their own churches.  

The changes happening because of Luther, sparked change within the organization of the Catholic Church.  At the Council of Trent, and Pope and bishops met to define who we are as Catholics.  Liturgy was narrowed to one common celebration, which remained constant with few adaptions through the 1962 missal.  Seven Sacraments (Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, Marriage and Holy Orders) were recognized.  It was good, holy and pious to pray for the souls in purgatory.  A Bishop can only be a Bishop in one Diocese at a time and must live within the boundaries of the Diocese.  Priests were required to be educated for the first time, instead of being an apprentice system.  Women religious were to remain with their convents.

This Council took very seriously what was hurting us as Catholics and took measures to resolve the issues from within.  It was a powerful, missionary movement that brought many to a better understanding of the faith.  It is the missionary movement that we still share in as we bring the Good News of Christ to the world, especially those on our campus with us today.

Thank you to Father Tony for sharing with us.  Thank you, also, to the students who shared in the conversation.

Join us in February as we discuss the meaning of Lent and the call to repentance, we each receive during the time of preparation for Christ's Passion.

RCIA: Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church is the sponsoring parish for Catholic Campus Ministries at Southwest Minnesota State University.  Students who attend SMSU, who are seeking to join the Catholic Church, or receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, are included in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) through our parish.  Spearheaded by Deacon Ken Noyes, and his bride, Jan, catechumens will participate in ten small group sessions, as well as the rites of the Church as they prepare to become full, active members of the Catholic Church.

This year, we have one of our students participating.  Ashley was born and baptized in the Catholic faith, but hasn't been Confirmed.  We are excited to walk in faith with her as she takes these next steps in faith.  Please pray for her, and for all the students on campus who are called to deepen their relationship with the Lord through the RCIA process.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Men's Study Group: Lectio Peter

 This week, our men's study group, Lectio Peter, started.  It is a deep dive into the life of the Apostle, Peter.  It is a wonderful opportunity to see the human side of Peter, which can inspire us to live more like him, following closely in the footsteps of Jesus.

All men are welcome to participate.  The group meets on Thursdays at 6p at the Campus Religious Center.  Supper is provided.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Women's Study Group: Mary in the Scriptures

For the first time since COVID shut everything down, we have a women's study group back!  We are so excited to announce our women's group is studying "Mary in the Scriptures" on Thursdays at 8am for the semester.  All women are invited to learn more about Mary as we dive deep into our understanding of who Mary is as a person and her role in salvation history.

Breakfast is provided.  Join us each Thursday this semester, at the Campus Religious Center!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Spring Semester Is Up and Running!

 Spring semester has started.  Yesterday was our first Newman Club meeting of the semester, and it was Trivia Night!  Since our Catholicism 101 will be discussing the Counter-Reformation, our trivia also covered.  Four fast games were played, two covering the Counter-Reformation, and then the Marvel Universe topics.

Join us the first Tuesday of February for the next round of Trivia.

To learn more about the Counter-Reformation, join Father Tony for Catholicism 101 on Sunday, January 29, after the 6pm Mass.

Monday, January 9, 2023

SEEK23: The Arch

 Before we headed for home, we had one more stop to make...the Gateway Arch.  The fog had been so heavy earlier in the week that you couldn't even see the top of the Arch, so we held off for our trip to the top.  It was the perfect end to an amazing week in St. Louis!  We look forward to returning for SEEK24 next January!

SEEK23 Day 5

 Day 5 had an early start! There was a travelers' Mass at 7:30am.  Bishop Earl Fernandez joined us as the presider for the second time for the week.  His message this time was succinct.  We must have a clear mission of what we are about.  We should model ourselves after John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was the friend of the bridegroom, but he was not the bridegroom.

John the Baptist was the voice in the darkness pointing to the Messiah.

John the Baptist went to the desert to get focused, like the prophets of old.

John the Baptist was a spiritual entrepreneur.  He called people to return to the fork of the road to choose the correct path.

This was what John the Baptist gave to the people.  He pointed to the Lord.  He was willing to sacrifice himself for others.  He brought many to conversion.  We have all been called to be members of the Body of Christ.  We are to witness that God came from heaven and took on human flesh, suffered and died and rose to know that in Him there is life.  

We are sent to proclaim the Gospel of Life.

This Mass was also the only Mass we were able to see Father Shawn.  While he had vested for each of the Masses, we were only able to catch one previous glimpse of him.  It was good to see him!

Our final set of keynote speakers began with a special guest:  Jonathan Roumie.  For those who are not familiar with him, he plays the role of Jesus on The Chosen.  Jonathan Roumie shared his personal walk with the Lord.  Several years ago, he was out of money, out of food and out of luck.  He fell to his knees in his apartment and poured out his heart to Jesus, completely and totally surrendering himself to the Lord.  Shortly after, he was offered his current role on The Chosen.  There are a few things he realized. 

1.  You cannot do anything without God.

2.  Any forward movement in your life has to be propelled by God.

3.  If something is holding you back, you have to consider, "have you completely surrendered?"

4.  How are *you* called to engage with other souls on your campus?

Curtis Martin was the first of the final two keynote speakers.  He began with a challenge:  "What's really at stake right now?"  He reminded us that everyone who has ever lived still does...somewhere.  The reality of what we are dealing with is nothing else matters.  You can have everything in the world, but if you don't have Christ, you lose.  If you have nothing on earth, but you have Christ, you win.

The Lord is calling you to walk into other people's lives so they can be transformed.  The Lord does not care about your "ability", he cares about your "availability."  If you seek first the kingdom of God, then everything else will be added.  In a very real way, each of us is writing our autobiography with the choices we make. 

He next reminded us of the Pope Benedict XVI's great quote, "The world offers you comfort, but you are not made for comfort.  you are made for greatness."  There are many things you will never be able to do on your own, but you don't have to.  The Lord can, and will, and He wants to work through you.

Jesus gave us an infinite gift of himself.  We cannot give an infinite gift back.  But we can give him everything of ourselves.  We need to embrace His mercy, embrace Him and embrace His mission.

If you become who you are meat to be, you will set the world on fire.  St. Catherine of Sienna.

He ended with a final challenge:  Who do you think needs to hear what you have heard?  and what is holding you back from reaching out to them?

The final speaker of the conference was Jason Evert.  Most of the conference focused on the exterior work that needs to be done to share the Gospel on campus.  This talk was different.  Jason Evert reminded us that the heavy lifting of the spiritual life is done interiorly.  Saint Pope John Paul II lived such a deep interior life, he radiated it.  It drew others to him.  He had a primacy of listening over speaking, which reminds us we don't always have to be the mouth of Christ.  Sometimes we have to be the ears.

If, as you prepare to leave this conference, you realize you can not live as you are any more, if something broke in you, John Paul II invites you to come back again.  We don't just need to go out, we need to go in.  We need to fortify ourselves to prepare for our eternal life.  The Church does not need more stuff, the Church needs more saints.

Five days of daily Mass, fantastic speakers, community building and working on our interior prayer life came to an end far faster than we had expected when the week started.  As we prepared to leave, Levi made sure to include our logo on the school logo board.  Then, it was time to load up and head for home.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

SEEK23 Day 4

 Thursday, January 5 is the day Pope Emeritus Benedict the XVI 's funeral was celebrated in Rome.  All around the world, parishes and Dioceses, individuals and groups, joined in the mourning.  Our Day 4 began with a rosary for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict the XVI's.

Today's Mass was offered for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  More than 600 seminarians, priests and Bishops were vested for the Mass today.  The first Bishops were on the podium before the last of the priests had even entered the arena.

The presider was Archbishop Timothy Broglio, of the Archdiocese of the Military.  The homily was a mix of personal memories of when Joseph Ratzinger was created, and proclaimed, Cardinal by Pope Paul VI and the beautiful legacy Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI left for the faithful.  

Christ insured we could enjoy the fullness of life by giving His life for us.  Because of this, we must give our life for our brothers and sisters.  Our response to divine love is to give it back by sharing it with others.  We do this by proclaiming the Word of God, the Eucharist and acts of charity.  These three things presuppose each other and are inseparable.

Charity is sharing the Gospel without shame with a world that doesn't always want to hear it.  We must be attentive to the Truth, and its Author.  Great minds and great communicators invite us to a deeper relationship with Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI taught us not to fear the end of our earthly pilgrimage.  We, as humans, are in transition.  Humans must die to rise, like a gran of wheat to be able to stand in the fullness of life.  We are but useless servants, and we have only done our duty, but Archbishop Broglio reminded us of the magnificent example we found in Pope Benedict XVI.

He also challenged the attendees to remember we have all been blessed by rebirth in the waters of baptism.  As such, we should not leave SEEK without recognizing the almighty love of God for each of us and our opportunity to show that love through the living out of our lives.

The excitement was building for the evening for more than one reason!  First, Dr. Ted Sri and Hilary Draftz were on deck as speakers.  Second, there was an introduction of the first ever Fun Run tomorrow morning.  Finally, the location for SEEK24 was slated to be revealed at the end of the evening!  The hosts again did a great job of engaging the crowd and preparing them for what was to come.

Dr. Ted Sri was the first speaker of the evening.  His energy on stage is absolutely contagious.  He is all over the stage, his voice raising and lowering in the passion he has for bringing others to Christ.  His initial question to the audience was "Do you ever feel intimidated by the saints?"  He went on to talk about some of the behaviors and habits they seem so unattainable:  ones who didn't need much sleep and prayed all night, others who were able to fast for a week at a time, those levitate and those who could bilocate.  But, the reality is, they were men and women, just like us.  They struggled in prayer and didn't always get it right.  What they did, though, was every time they fell, they got back up and relied on God's grace.  What God did in those saints, He wants to do in each and every one of us.  

Jesus doesn't want to pardon us like a judge.  He wants to heal us like a physician, and He does that through the Church.  As the Holy Spirit is in us, we become like the iron rod in the fire.  We take on the properties of the Holy Spirit.  We can forgive like Him, love like Him, give like Him. The Church is not a way of life, it is life.  It is the life of Christ in us, changing us to become more like Him.

We need the Church, we can't just be spiritual entities.  We need to have the structure of the Sacraments of the Church to affect true healing.  As St. Augustine said, it wasn't that he didn't still suffer wounds after his conversion, but the Lord was able to keep healing them once he had converted.

Why would we want to give ourselves to a church that was not perfect?  Throughout salvation history, imperfect human instruments were always used in the Lord's work.  Moses led the Israelites from Egypt.  Peter was the rock on which the Church was built.  Imperfect people can be perfect for the task at hand when they are executing the Lord's will.  This shows God's majesty all the more by being able to work through our imperfections.

We have to be careful of choosing the spiritual, but not religious, life.  In general, our spiritual nature would be very comfortable for us.  Essentially, when we choose spirituality instead of the Church, we become a "Church of me".  However, we should all know ourselves well enough to understand that we need to be called out of ourselves or we will not truly be able to love like Jesus did and does.

The saints are our brothers and sisters who went before us.  They are praying for us and encouraging us.  This is how we are changed.  Jesus does not want to pardon you like a judge.  He wants to heal us like a physician and does that through the Church and Her Sacraments.

Hilary Draftz was the final speaker of the evening.  Her focus was on Acts 2:42. "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/acts/2) First, she wanted to make sure we understood the title of that book in Bible was "Acts" and not "Intentions."  The Apostles specifically had actions they need to take as they made the transition to communal living after the Lord's resurrection and Acts 2:42 was the blueprint to execute the plan.  She broke this done by the four areas covered in this scripture.


The Disciples had the Gospel to share with the apostles, and the other truths that flowed from the trust of the Gospel.  Many of those topics are unpopular today.  They were not popular in the early Church either.


Friendship with other believers is important.  Technology has become a superficial substitute.  What we need are authentic friendships, filled with good meals, long laughter and true sharing. The timelessness of authentic sharing allows us to gift our real selves and to receive that gift from others.  Those great friendships are the foretaste of what heaven will be like.

Breaking of the Bread:

Early Christians practiced the breaking of the bread as the Eucharist.  That is when Christ is revealed, like he was to Cleopas and the other on the road to Emmaus.  We don't just believe Christ humbled himself to be born as an infant or to die on a Cross.  We believe He continues to humble Himself each time he comes to us as bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Christ.  The breaking of the bread also refers to the entire sacramental life of the Church including Reconciliation.  


Prayer needs to be a regular part of our lives, not just when we are on a retreat high.  If we coast from one retreat experience to the next, and we expect the retreat to take care of the work, we will never grow in faith.  We need to commit to praying, even if just a little each day.  The most important part is that we are doing it.  

Every day is a new opportunity to encounter Christ.  Jesus wants you to radiate with His glory.  He is making us into the saints He has called us to be.  We need to continue to act as apostles, not just have good intentions.

At the end of the evening, the location for SEEK24 was announced...returning to St. Louis!  The first 500 people to sign up will receive some special swag items, and everyone in our group is anxiously waiting to hear if we won since everyone was registered to attend next year before we even left the arena.  Please pray for us as we move forward in faith to live out the Gospel message, we heard in a new way this week.