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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

Tuesday, July 7th Email

I hope that you are all enjoying the sunny weather and managing to stay cool.

The St. Mary parking lot will be closed on Wednesday after 8:30 Mass so that John Martin’s crew can start working on re-doing the asphalt. Please keep this in mind if you need to come in to the Parish office tomorrow. If all goes well, they hope to have everything completed by the end of the day so we will have a nice, clean parking lot again! Special thanks to the Knights of Columbus for helping to make this happen.

Also, (speaking of the Knights!) Ken Plude has requested that this week’s meeting be moved to next week, Thursday July 16th. Rosary will begin at 6:30 and the meeting will start at 7pm.

A reminder that Adoration is back on Thursdays from 9am-9pm. If you would like to come and spend some time with Jesus, please do.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

Lift up your Hearts: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Happy 4th to all! I pray you all have a safe and blessed holiday weekend.

The year 2020 has been full of seemingly unwanted surprises. Life has suddenly become much more dangerous. Or maybe before we just never took the time to reflect on how fragile the balance of life really is.

Even five months ago we would have never thought life could change this much for the entire world. Of course we also add in rioting and social unrest, catastrophic flooding in Midland, a murder hornet invasion, recent spikes in new coronavirus cases, etc. What’s next? Can it get any worse? I think history has shown us that yes, it can get worse. But that is not what I want to focus on. I think all of these major changes that we are experiencing can bring into focus what life is all about, what true liberty is and what our goals should be.

We celebrate the Declaration of Independence in which it is stated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It seems that, even though self-evident, many choose not to live according to these words of wisdom. Let us reflect therefore on the “unalienable rights” endowed upon us by our Creator; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

First of all life. As we know well now, life is very fragile and can be changed, altered or ended in the matter of seconds, and yet, when our way of life is forcibly changed by things that we cannot control, we experience the anger, the frustration, the annoyance or the inconvenience very much. This conflict makes me think about my life and how it should be lived. It has made me want to be more thankful for the blessings I do have, and makes me want to stop taking my own life, or anyone else’s for granted. It reminds me that not only is life fragile, but also that life is precious.

But is it meant to be lived for my own self-gratification? Is my right to seek and preserve my life to be asserted even when it means stifling out or harming another’s? I think we would all say absolutely not!

There is a saying that a wise priest once shared with me that perhaps you have heard before that states, “My freedom to swing my arm stops where your nose begins.” What I think we can realize then is that this life cannot be everyone for him or herself. In order for me to have to freedom to seek life and to pursue happiness I necessarily have to respect the life and freedoms of others. It makes sense that if all of us do the same, my own pursuit will actually hastened and not frustrated.

All of this continuously proves to me the truth and the relevance of Christ and the Christian message to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), or “do unto others what you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12). We can see how bad things get when we don’t live up to that Golden Rule. What I think the Lord Jesus demonstrates in His own version of this, is that He makes Himself a total gift for us. He gives up His life freely so that we might flourish unto eternal life and happiness.

If we are to be like Him, and if He is the one who teaches us the truth of how to arrive at life, then our life is to be a loving self-gift for others. When we do that to the best of our ability, we begin to experience an inner coherence and peace, because, wouldn’t you know it, we are living how we have been made to live.

Now liberty. Since we all have free will, we know that what we have been made to live is not always what people choose to live. In fact, all of us choose very often to live for ourselves and not for others. So, what is freedom for, if it’s not to do whatever suits me? Well, what Christ shows us, is a freedom for the sake of the good. He always chose what was good even when it meant suffering and death for Himself. He freely chose that.

He told His disciples “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17-18). Jesus did this for us, and freely chose to do so, that we might be set free. St. Paul says “For freedom that Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). The slavery He talks about is the slavery to sin, or the slavery to the flesh. Freedom is given then, and is meant for us to be able to choose the good. If we are slaves to our fleshy passions and to sin, we do not choose wisely or lovingly for the good of others, or even for ourselves.

Lastly, pursuit of happiness. I think with the previous reflection on life and liberty that we can understand that our happiness is best discovered in God. We often pursue worldly happiness to the detriment of eternal happiness. This is because we often choose to use our liberty selfishly and try sustain our own lives as if we are the measure of our own existence. When we treat ourselves like that, basically as gods in place of our Creator, we lose sight of what is truly good for us and for our neighbor. This often means that we focus only on ourselves and forget that by looking out for the good of our neighbor is also going to affect our own good as well.

So, if it is our Creator who has endowed us with the rights of life, liberty and to pursue happiness, I would wager that He has given us instructions on how to do that. While there is much more that we could reflect on, I think that some very valuable questions for us all would be, how have my life, my use of freedom and my pursuit of happiness affected others? Do I see that the best way to fulfill all the longings of my heart is to see myself as a gift meant to be given away in love? What changes can I make in my life so that I can live more freely with the goal of eternal happiness in mind? Here’s to an Independence Day filled with peace and joy that comes from true life, liberty and happiness found in Christ.

Sunday Mass at 11 o’clock update

All 3 Masses saw higher attendance this past weekend.  We were able to seat the 74 people on Saturday in the church.  We were overflowed into the parish center at 9am with about 136 people total and then at least that, if not more at 11am for the outdoor Mass.  Please remember to arrive on time if not 5 minutes before so we can seat everyone before the Masses begin. Even the outdoor Mass.  With livestream at 9am; and cars coming into the parking lot after the 11am start it can be a distraction to the Mass.  Thank you all for understanding as we continue to work through the different Mass environments.  It was so beautiful to see so many people coming and participating at public Mass again.  What a witness at the outdoor Mass to see so many able to kneel on the concrete parking lot.  I was brought to tears.  How much we all love the Lord with our little sacrifices!

We are also hoping that more people will be able to bring their own chairs.  We went through 3 full racks of chairs yesterday and have only 1 more to offer before heading into metal folding chairs. (not ideal because of the folding aspect!)  We will also be creating more space with cones for seating, so that will mean parking will be pulled back further.  Please keep the hedgerow next to the rectory garden open for handicap parking since the handicap spaces are taken up with chairs.  We could also use a few more ushers at the 11am Mass to help with set up, take down and also assisting visitors with where the Mass location is and finding seating.  Men, women and our young adults are all welcome to volunteer.  Let Kendall Hayes know if you can help ahead of time or come early for 11am Mass or stay after the 9am and volunteer.  Thank you for all those who really stepped it up for us this past weekend!  We are so grateful for all our volunteers who are helping us in so many ways.

Lift up your Hearts: Who is Your #1

Fr. Peter Wigton, Pastor St. Mary of Assumption, Charlevoix
June 24, 2020

After just celebrating Father’s Day, we realize how beautiful it is to take time out of our busy schedules to appreciate those who have had major influence in our lives.

I have been very blessed with a large and loving family that I love to spend time with. The holidays are usually full of traveling back down to Leelanau County to meet up with siblings and relatives, and of course, all the nieces and nephews! I just love it. This past Sunday afternoon my brother and I went out golfing with our Dad. We all could have played a better round of course, but It was a great blessing just to be with them.

For many of us family is so important. We may have even said, or had it said to us by our parents that “family comes first.” Jesus, however, gives us a huge challenge this weekend with a few lines from Matthew chapter 10.

He states that “whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). St. Luke has a similar passage in his gospel that states, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Thankfully the use of the term “hate” is idiomatic and comes across a little stronger in english than its meaning. Its sense is “to love less.” Even though that is the case, it does not make things easier.

It is a challenge because it means making uncomfortable decisions sometimes. We will have to choose between doing what God would want us to do and the pressure that we have from family. Often times they will want us to do something contrary to God’s commands to make them happy.

I have had to council many people in various circumstances with very hard decisions. It is never easy, nor is every difficult situation black and white. I think the mode of operating for most of these situations these days though has become “keep the peace at all costs.” I agree with this on the condition that we are keeping the peace with the right person at all costs. These scripture passages remind us that our number one priority needs to be God and following after Christ. In order to be his disciple, we need to put Him and our relationship with Him above all other relationships. The reason for this, as Christ states in the above passages, is so that we might be worthy of Him and worthy of being called His disciple.

If you are anything like me, you have probably made decisions to cave to the familial pressures instead of following your conscience. Often we justify it because we do love them and want to make them happy. Yet, if we truly love them and want to make them happy, we need to help them to see that the decision we are making for God is also best for them and therefore loving. I think that we realize this with children, that not everything that they want is actually good for them and therefore, it makes sense that not everything they want is actually the loving thing for us to do.

There is a difficult balance to strike between living and sharing the truth with our families and loving them at the same time. There are many who want to staunchly uphold the truth, yet often do not present it with love. While we want to live in the truth, we cannot have truth without love, nor love without truth. Pope Benedict XVI states in his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (Charity in the Truth) that “without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to the contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word ‘love’ is abused and distorted to the point where it means the opposite” (CV para. 3). An Evangelical Pastor Warren Wiersbe once said that “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

We know from Scripture that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8) and that Jesus calls himself “the way the truth and life” (Jn. 14:6). God wants to help us to live the truth in love. The Spirit who “will guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13) is given that we might know what God is asking of us and inspires us to act upon the truth with love. Taking up our cross and following after Christ is the daily struggle that we take up with God’s help. By it we arrive at God’s ultimate goal for us, which is eternal life with Him.

Along the way, by following his commands we live a much more fulfilled life, because we are living the truth as He created it to be lived. So let us place God first above all our other relationships and ask the Lord to lead us in all our discernment and decision making so as to be witnesses even in our families of living love in the truth.