Category Archives: News

Lift Up Your Hearts: Fruit That Will Last

Having grown up on a farm, I am familiar with gardening.

We always planted a huge garden. I remember all that went into preparing the soil, then the watering and the weeding, picking off all the bugs that were eating the plants, picking the produce and of course eating it.

Just a quick side note; if you haven’t eaten a carrot right out of the garden with a little dirt on it, you haven’t really lived. Many of the years that we gardened, while a lot of work still went into it, we wouldn’t take care of it very well once it was planted. We would weed once a summer, my dad and older brothers would rototill every now and again, but usually by the end of the summer the whole garden would be filled with weeds.

It seems to me that had we been more diligent we could have had a more plentiful garden. There was one year when my oldest brother planted about 15 zucchini plants. By the end of the summer we were doing everything we could to stop those plants from producing. There was so much zucchini. My mom had to get very creative with her recipes. I specifically remember one evening having “apple pie.” It was actually pretty good, but those were not apples. I’m told that people at church began locking their cars so they wouldn’t have a random bag of zucchini show up. I thought it would never end.

I’m sure that we had other bumper crops now and again, but mostly I think we had the opposite problem because we did not do enough in the garden. There were still expectations that the plants would put forth fruit and usually there was a decent amount, but I’m sure nothing like it could have been if we had given it all the love and attention it needed.

The Lord God tells of his own experience about planting his vineyard. He described in detail all that he did for it and how He seemed to do everything right, yet things did not turn out the way He had hoped.

He tells us “My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard: What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:1-4).

Unlike my own experience, this vineyard owner did everything that he was supposed to, but instead of receiving what he planted, the crop was wild grapes. Of course, what the Lord is saying through this story is that He cared for His people of Israel perfectly and gave them everything that they needed, yet the fruits of all His labor did not come out as it should have. The people turned from Him and after a while began worshipping other gods.

He describes it further when He says “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress” (Isaiah 5:7). He therefore describes what he is going to do with the vineyard. He says “Now, I will let you know what I mean to do with my vineyard: take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled! Yes, I will make it a ruin: it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers; I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it” (Isaiah 5:5-6). Since the grapes it produces are wild and in a certain sense, the people of Israel were acting as if they did not belong to the Lord He let them reap what they sowed.

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us a very similar parable. He says “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way.

Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes? They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” (Matthew 21:33-41). The Lord uses this story to explain that, although He gave His people everything they needed, they did not receive Him when He came, nor did they bear the fruit He was looking for.

The Lord is looking for people who will allow Him to be Lord and Savior. He is looking for people who will produce the fruit that He desires. We have discussed before how we need to embrace the life of the Spirit and to live the commandments that God has given us in order that we become what the Lord has made us to be. He reminds us that “I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, to go and bear fruit that will remain” (John 15:16). The Lord has chosen us as His people and given us all the graces and the care that we need to flourish and produce His fruits. Let us ask Him to strengthen our response to His love and grace so as to bear fruit for His kingdom, fruit that will last.

Good Morning!

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Saturday morning! Lots of “newsy” things to share this morning:  

  • The readings this Sunday help us to see the importance of being of one heart and mind as a community and embracing God’s will even if we have been negligent in the past. God will grant us mercy and forgiveness if we are humble and willing to turn and live the way He desires us to live. The readings can be found here on the USCCB website. 
  • The weather is looking like it will be cloudy but dry for tomorrow’s outside Mass at 11am so please join us in the parking lot if you can! 
  • Elizabeth Gengle, our Faith Formation and Sacramental Prep leader, will be holding a parent meeting for Sacramental Preparation and Faith Formation this Sunday, September 27 from 10:15-10:45 near the Sacred Heart Statue in the Rectory lawn area. If you are unable to attend, please call Liz 231-547-6652×13 to register your children.
  • Ken Plude will be in the gathering space after all Masses this weekend to distribute raffle tickets to Knights of Columbus members for this year’s Hunter’s Banquet Raffle. There is no banquet due to COVID-19, but the raffle drawing will take place on Sunday, October 25, 2020.
  • Also this weekend we will take up the Special Emergency Disaster Collection to help our brothers and sisters who have been affected by the recent wildfires in the Northwest and hurricanes in the Southeast parts of the United States. We will have a 3rd, designated “Disaster Relief” basket in the Parish entryway for this collection. If you are able to contribute to this cause, please do so that we can help those families who have been affected by these natural catastrophes. 
  • We continue to pray the 40 Days for Life Devotional. Please join us on this 40-day prayer campaign to battle against abortion. More information can be found on the website: 40DaysForLife.com.
  • A reminder that during the month of September the Sacrament of Reconciliation is being offered on Wednesdays from 5-7 pm outside near the Sacred Heart statue (weather permitting) and on Fridays from 12-1 pm and again from 4-6 pm. An examine of conscience can be found here and the prayer for repentance and conversion is attached below.  
  • Rebecca Berg is holding prayer time in the park “Gathering our community together in prayer for our nation.” The prayer time will begin at noon today.
  • If you can help clean after Masses this weekend please sign up here
  • The USCCB has published it’s guidelines on Faithful Citizenship to provide guidance for Catholics in the upcoming elections.
  • Finally, the bulletin for this weekend can be found here.

Have a wonderful weekend! 

“Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.” — St. Therese of Lisieux

Happy Wednesday!

Just a few things as we hit the middle of the week:  

  • Bishop Hurley, Apostolic Administrator, has asked that we take up a Special Emergency Disaster Collection this weekend to help our brothers and sisters who have been affected by the recent wildfires in the Northwest and hurricanes in the Southeast parts of the United States. If you are able to contribute to this cause, please do so that we can help those families who have been affected by these natural catastrophes. 
  • Today, September 23 is the beginning of the 40 Days for Life Devotional. Please join us on this 40-day prayer campaign to battle against abortion. More information can be found on the website: 40DaysForLife.com.
  • Reconciliation will be offered this afternoon from 5-7 pm outside near the Sacred Heart statue (weather permitting) and on Friday from 12-1 pm and again from 4-6 pm in the church. An examine of conscience can be found here and the prayer for repentance and conversion is attached below.  
  • Tomorrow, Thursday, September 24 is the National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the conversion of hearts as well as for mercy and healing for our country. More information can be found on the Georgia bulletin website.
  • On Saturday, September 26, Rebecca Berg is holding prayer time in the park “Gathering our community together in prayer for our nation.” The prayer time will begin at noon.
  • Finally, the Funeral arrangements have been set for Father Robert H. Bissot:
    • On Tuesday, September 29, 2020 there will be visitation starting at 5:00 pm followed by a service at 7:00 pm at St. Anne Church in Harrisville, MI.
    • On Wednesday, September 30, 2020 there will be visitation starting at 10:00 am at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Gaylord followed by a Funeral Mass at 11:00 am. The Funeral Mass will also be available by livestream on the Diocese website: dioceseofgaylord.org.

Enjoy the rest of the week! 

“Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.”
— St. Thomas Aquinas

Good Morning!

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Saturday morning! Just a few things for this weekend: 

  • In the readings for this weekend, the Lord reminds us to fill our mind with the thoughts of God and to strive to follow his ways so that we can be beautiful witnesses to the wisdom of God. The readings can be found here on the USCCB website
  • The weather is looking like it will be sunny and cool for tomorrow’s outside Mass at 11:00 am. Bring a chair and an extra layer to stay warm! 
  • Please keep Stella Alexander and her family in your prayers. Her son Moss passed away earlier this week. His obituary can be found here. Stella is a long time summer parishioner at St. Mary’s.
  • A reminder that during the month of September the Sacrament of Reconciliation is being offered  on Wednesdays from 5-7 pm outside near the Sacred Heart statue (weather permitting) and on Fridays from 12-1 pm and again from 4-6 pm. An examine of conscience can be found here and the prayer for repentance and conversion is attached below.  
  • On Saturday, September 26, Rebecca Berg is holding prayer time in the park “Gathering our community together in prayer for our nation.” The prayer time will begin at noon.
  • If you can help clean after Masses this weekend please sign up here
  • Father Peter’s article for the week, “I Did it God’s Way,” is now online – click here to read
  • Finally, the bulletin for this weekend can be found here.

Have a wonderful weekend! 

“The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.” — St. Teresa of Avila

Lift Up Your Hearts: I Did it God’s Way

I Did It My Way is a very familiar song that many of us have heard Frank Sinatra sing many times.

Reading through the lyrics you get the sense that the person speaking is reflecting on their legacy now that time is running out. Of course, the main point is that through it all, he did it his way.

In a certain sense it seems to glorify independence and the individual, which are values that our culture certainly upholds. Many of us have had many beautiful experiences in life and have been blessed to travel and to see the world. These days I am counting those blessings more and more, especially now that travel is so much more difficult, even non-existent.

While personal freedom and flavor is part of every experience and story, I think there is just something that tells us inside “there is more.” There is more to life than living for myself. I think we know that doing this – living for ourselves – to an extreme degree does not actually lead to happiness, but to isolation. How many people are going to want to be around someone who is all about themselves?

There are those relationships where two people who are all about themselves mutually use each other for personal gain, but there is no real intimacy there. I propose that doing things my way, while it might be tempting and fun for a time, will not bring me the ultimate peace that I am seeking, nor will it allow me to flourish into the being that I sense I am drawn to be, and that God wants me to be.

In the first reading from this weekend, the Lord reminds us very beautifully that He doesn’t think like we think, nor does He do things the way we do them. He states “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:6-9).

I know that we have discussed taking on the mind of Christ before, as well as about being transformed by the renewal of our minds (See Romans 12:1-2). I think that often we fall into the trap of believing that God thinks exactly how we think, or that we always think the way that God thinks. At least many of us would never want to admit that we do not think exactly like God, because that would be admitting that we are wrong. Instead of that, we simply replace God with our own way of thinking. It’s a lot easier that way, we get to do things our way, and basically become God. We get to make God in our own image, instead of the other way around.

Yet how many of us, placing ourselves in God’s place would choose to do what God did for our sake? How many of us would have come up with sacrificing ourselves out of love on a cross, or how many of us would be willing to forgive like Christ forgave us? How many of us can say that we would do things better that the way God has done it? God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. And you know, I thank God for that, because without Him teaching me His ways and without Him showing me the way He thinks, I know I would be a much bigger mess.

In the Gospel this weekend the Lord gives us an example of His generosity that goes so far beyond what we would expect. To some His generosity seems a bit unfair, but just listen to what He says. He tells His disciples a parable about a landowner who goes out to hire workers for His land. “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off.  And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard’” (Matthew 20:1-7). Stopping here for just a moment, what the Lord shows in this portion of the parable is that it is never too late to begin doing things His way.

He seeks after workers for the vineyard of His kingdom even up to the very end of a person’s life. Some would not even try to hire those that were standing idly all day, which represents someone who has perhaps wasted most of their life doing things their own way. But the story continues; “When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go.

What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:8-16). Those who have been working for the Lord for their whole lives receive the same reward as those who squeak in at the very end. How many of us would do that? God’s ways are not our ways. Honestly, I am so thankful for that because I know that there is so much more room for the kingdom of God to grow. We need a lot more people to start working for this good and generous God. In God’s eyes it does not matter how much time has been wasted. He is merciful and good and can make of us what He intended us to be. We have meditated a lot on what He intends for us. We have spoken a lot about the reward of heaven; a share in God’s own divine life. When we get there, we are not going to care how long we worked for God verses another.

We will be happy and thankful to God for His mercy that brought us there. We will see how much more we could have become, and how much more we could have been fulfilled if we had given Him everything. What I have personally noticed is that by choosing to do things God’s way, I am not stifling myself, my independence and my individuality, but rather watching God give me a freedom I never thought possible. He has been helping me along the way to become even more who I have been made to be, and the more I grow the more I know it is true. I would much rather do things God’s way, and leave behind me, not so much a legacy for people to glorify, but rather a kingdom; God’s kingdom for people to flourish in. Let’s do it God’s way.

Good Afternoon!

Just a few things before the weekend:

  • Adoration runs from 9am – 9pm every Thursday. Please stop by and spend a few moments with Jesus if you are able to.
  • A reminder that there will be no confessions and no adoration this Friday. There will be Mass at 8:30 on Friday morning and the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 pm.
  • Click here for part one of the Faithful Citizenship document Father Peter mentioned in last weekend’s homily. More to come on this.
  • We are still looking for someone to fill the janitorial/maintenance position for the Parish and School. This is a part time position, about 3-4 hours per day Monday-Friday. If you (or someone you know) are interested, please contact Kendall Hayes – 231-547-6652 or email: khayes@stmaryschoolchx.com
  • Finally, St. Mary School is hosting a “bulb” sale now through September 28. If interested, please reach out to your favorite St. Mary student, call the school office to place an order – 547-9441 – or you can order online (remember to put St. Mary School in the online order form). Get a head start your spring garden before that pesky white stuff arrives! Thank you for supporting St. Mary School!

Enjoy the sunshine!


“Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two comes a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love.” — St. Juliana of Norwich

Good Evening!

Sorry about getting this out so late! Just a few things for tomorrow and the week ahead:

  • The gospel for this weekend encourages us to follow Christ in the practice of forgiveness and compassion in our daily lives. The readings can be found here on the USCCB website.
  • The weather is looking a little dreary for tomorrow’s 11:00 am Mass. If it blows over earlier than predicted and we think we can stay dry we will keep the Mass outdoors. If not, we will move it inside.
  • A reminder that during the month of September the Sacrament of Reconciliation is being offered  on Wednesdays from 5-7 pm outside near the Sacred Heart statue (weather permitting) and on Fridays from 12-1 pm and again from 4-6 pm. An examine of conscience can be found here and the prayer for repentance and conversion is attached below.
  • If you can help clean after Masses this weekend please sign up here
  • Father Peter’s article for the week, “Just Let Go,” is now online – click here to read
  • On Monday, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we will celebrate Mass at 12 pm instead of 7 pm.
  • On Tuesday, the final day of our Novena, we will celebrate the Memorial of our Lady of Sorrows with a consecration to our Lady at the 8:30 am Mass.
  • A reminder that Adoration on Thursday runs from 9 am to 9 pm. Please stop by the church to share a few moments in prayer with our Lord.
  • This week, Fr. Peter will be away Thursday afternoon through Friday so there will be no adoration or confessions this Friday. Pat Antaya has offered to lead the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 pm on Friday. Fr. Jim Hayden will be here to celebrate 8:30 am Mass on Friday morning.
  • The bulletin for this weekend can be found here.

Have a blessed and restful Sunday!

“Make friends with the angels, who though invisible are always with you. Often invoke them, constantly praise them, and make good use of their help and assistance in all your temporal and spiritual affairs.”
— St. Francis de Sales

Lift Up Your Hearts – Just Let Go

Did you know that forgiveness is mostly for you?

At first when we think of forgiveness, we think about the other person who hurt us and try to determine whether or not they have shown themselves worthy of our forgiveness.

Once they do that, then we can forgive. We often times do not consider that forgiveness is actually more for us than it is for the person we are forgiving. If you think about it, whose heart is being controlled more, the one who offended, or the one who was hurt?

Often times the people who have been hurt cannot let go of what happened, and begin to carry the wound around with them. They may not think about it all the time, but it constricts their heart and does not allow them to love fully. There can be a loss of freedom, heightened fears and anxieties, as well as anger. It’s just not worth it. There is a reason why Jesus emphasizes forgiveness in the Gospels.

This weekend the theme of reconciliation is extremely poignant beginning with the first reading from the book of Sirach. The Lord reminds us “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD?

Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins?” (Sirach 27:30-28:4). The Lord continues to make this point very forcefully in the Gospel. Peter comes to him asking “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21) To us seven times sounds extremely generous. How many of us would forgive the same offense more than once? Jesus’ response is quite shocking. He says, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). The use of this number basically means there should be no end to your forgiveness and you should always forgive. To explain this, He tells a parable saying “That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan” (Matthew 18:24-27). Let’s stop here for just a second. In other translations, and in the original Greek, the amount that this servant owed the master was 10,000 talents. One talent would be worth about $457,600. So almost half a million dollars. Multiply that by 10,000 and you get $4.5 billion. This is an astronomical amount that this servant has not even the slightest chance of repaying with the wages he makes. What Jesus is likening this to is the forgiveness of God, and the forgiveness that He offers us.

The amount that we all owe due to sin is unsurpassable, insurmountable by any of us. We cannot in any way pay the price to clear it up. The story continues: “When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt” (Matthew 18:28-30). Here again the Greek specifies the amount. It says that the fellow servant owed him “100 silver coins,” or “100 Denarii,” which is about 100 days wages at minimum wage.

So in Michigan that would be $9.45 an hour today. Multiply that by 8 hours and then by 100 to get $7,560. This is no small amount for a day laborer. It is equivalent to about 1/3 of a years salary. But in comparison to what this servant was forgiven by the master, it is absolutely nothing. It would have taken him about 20 years to pay back 1 talent. Multiply that by 10,000 and he would have taken 200,000 years to pay back the debt. It is no wonder that the man’s fellow servants ran to tell the master what they had just seen. The story continues: “His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:32-35).

The reality of unforgiveness leads us to a hard heart unable to receive forgiveness. It is not that God the Father wants to send us to prison until we pay back the debt. In all honesty we send ourselves there because of our hardness of heart which makes us unable to receive His forgiveness. Who, having received forgiveness of a $4.5 billion loan, would go out that same day and choke someone else for $7,560? It sounds absurd. But that is what we often do. In comparison to what we have been forgiven — an infinite amount — how is it that we cling to insignificant grievances from our neighbors, our brothers and sisters? Just let it go! It is not worth handing your soul over to anger, fear, anxiety, pain, hurt, hardness, sadness, and separation from God’s forgiveness. Forgiving does not mean that the other person goes off scott free, but rather means that I forgo justice for myself and leave God to be the judge.

I let go of my control of the situation, or the lie that I can even take real control by clinging to unforgiveness. What really happens happens is that it begins to control me. It’s better for me, it’s better for everyone if I just let go.

Good Thursday Morning!

Just a few things for this morning before tomorrow’s newsletter: 

  • Thank you to everyone who came to the Liturgical Minister training on Tuesday night. If you missed it but are still interested in becoming a reader for daily or weekend Masses, please call the Parish office and we will get you the information. 
  • Tomorrow, Friday, September 11, we will celebrate the life of Thomas J. Brandel with a funeral Mass at 10:00 am. Tom’s obituary can be found here on the Mortensen Funeral Home website.  
  • A reminder that during the month of September the Sacrament of Reconciliation is being offered  on Wednesdays from 5-7 pm and on Fridays from 12-1 pm and 4-6 pm. An examine of conscience can be found here and the prayer for repentance and conversion is attached below.  

Have a blessed day! 

“Heaven could not span its Creator, but the faithful soul, and only it, becomes its dwelling place and seat, and it becomes so in virtue of charity of which the impious lack.” — St. Clare of Assisi