Age caught up with me. Over last summer I joined parish youth for an excursion to the doorway to the Land of the Lost, aka, Natural Bridge State Park. We had been here before three years earlier on a similar excursion. To my surprise, the same obstacles I encounter back then were, no doubt, harder to overcome this time. Apparently, the cave formations didn't grow as much as I did. Biblical wisdom is there to remind me of these things: Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day (2 Cor. 4:16). St. John Paul II was always refreshed by the company of younger souls and who were able to express themselves more freely in his company whereas, it was harder to do so by the sacred surroundings of parish life. I have also found that to be true. By the way, I've never known Carl to be grumpy. So I guess, he just likes the hat.
Over the summer I revisited Sequoia National Park because of the impression it left on me during a prior visit. These monsters have stood for several thousand years. They're older than the Church itself and they speak to me of God's persistent providence throughout the ages. The park ranger noted that they are the only trees on earth that are impervious to forest fires—just like the Church as a whole will be impervious to the fires of Hell. On a humorous note, I don't think the Tree of Good and Evil at the Center of the Eden was a Sequoia. Our first parents would have had to invent the ladder.
Este verano volví a visitar el Parque Nacional Sequoia por la impresión que me dejó en mi primera visita. Esos monstruos han estado allí por varios miles de años. Son más antiguos que la misma Iglesia y me hablan a mí de la providencia persistente de Dios a través de los tiempos. El guardaparque mencionó que esos son los únicos árboles en la tierra que no son afectados por los incendios forestales--igual que la Iglesia como un todo que es inmune a los fuegos del Infierno. Para agregar un poco de humor, no creo que el Árbol del Bien y el Mal al centro del Paraíso era una sequoia. De lo contrario, nuestros primeros padres hubierantenido que inventar la escalera.
Over the summer I received an invitation to join Dominic Pinti, Pastor of St. George in Apache Junction, for a simple ceremony of his appointment as Monsignor. The honorific title 'Monsignor' denotes a papal recognition for faithful service to the Church, always imparted by the reigning pontiff, usually through the recommendation of the local bishop. Msgr. Pinti confided to me that he neither looked for this honor and was surprised to even receive it. Pope Francis at the outset of his Pontificate discouraged these recognitions to priests under the age of 65.READ MORE
Today we celebrate three of God's Archangels, angelic persons who exist to support and defend God's people. We depict them in human form. Good angels come with bird wings. The bad ones sport bat wings. Medieval Christian art depicted the angelic being with wings to convey the presence of natural perfections above our own as humans--namely their purely spiritual existence. Our depictions of them in winged flight speak of our need for some sort of artful embodiment to help us grasp better their excellence. The last local Renaissance Festival provided me the opportunity where popular culture tried to capture something of this.READ MORE
If you've ever traveled the plains of Nevada, there are plenty of burros on the loose, descendants of the beasts of burden that were once upon a time owned by conquistadors and settlers. And the rather obvious traditional image came to mind: Our Blessed Mother carried God's Child on one of these.
These animals were grazing on the outskirts of Beatty, NV. Just a few miles from the place of this photo shoot is the now infamous nuclear test site that saw over 900 detonations above and below ground. As I understand it, Beatty won't have to worry for another 9000 years when, at that time, the toxic remnants of the testing finally seep their way into the aquafers of the local population.READ MORE
Today is the Feast day of our Lady of Sorrows which holds another opportunity for families of Holy Cross to consecrate their home and family life to the maternal protection of our Lady through this wonderful devotion, 33 days to Morning Glory. Remember that this push for consecration among our families came at the invitation of our Bishop, Thomas Olmsted, who has led our diocese to the 50th Anniversary Celebrations.
Consecrate means to set apart, set apart from all that is worldly, mundane. To that point, we all have our experiences of living among those who are not of a religious mindset, who do not speak of God in a respectful way or address him as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At the Steubenville Youth Conference I visited over the summer, I met a priest from Oregon who share this statistic: sixty percent of the population in his state is unchurched, uncatechized, or has fallen into some form of religiosity other than Christian. Sixty percent!READ MORE
Here's another image from the Steubenville Youth Conference mentioned in last week's bulletin. Laser shows with thumping bass rhythms have their place as a way to captivate youth, but then comes the time to deliver. Youth want to be challenged with the truth. They know, just as Jesus' followers knew, that the Truth will set you free. Jesus did not shy away from the hard truth of letting go of all possessions in order to follow Him closely. This was not a poetic saying. It's all or nothing with Jesus.
The religious life of the Church has been set up to help those live out the radical teaching of Christ to forsake the world and its ways. Professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience help ensure fidelity to the radical option. That's fine and dandy for a professed religious, but for the rest of us who are neither nun or hermit, how are we to take Jesus' saying about giving up possessions? We do well to live by the virtue (not the vow) of poverty. That is, we are to avoid, as best we can, ostentation and consumer culture. Live more simply. Chastity, guarding our eyes and ears from the hedonistic lifestyle, especially as it comes by way our on-line entertainment industry. Obedience, observing the commandments and precepts of the Church, conceding in things non-essential to our supernatural survival.READ MORE
I was able to make the schedule work out so that I could attend the Steubenville, San Diego, CA, Youth Conference this past July where about 20 of our youthful parishioners decided to attend. My desire to hear the presentations was rooted in seeing what relevance the themes had on our youth, and secondarily, to understand a little more, what is it, according to the mindset of Steubenville Conference Ministry, that youth should know. And yes, from what I could witness, this Conference seemed to accomplish the work of sowing good seed in these young minds and hearts.
Fr. Mike Schmitz, the keynote speaker, connected very well with the youth. He has that gift. You, as a parent, who trusted Holy Cross and the Steubenville Conferences with the formation of your children, are entitle to hear Fr. Mike's message, and you can get a feel for those gifts by visiting his YouTube Channel "Ascension Presents".READ MORE