Sunday, January 24, 2010

We are many parts, but all one body.

But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weakerare all the more necessary,

That the parts may have the same concern for one another.If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

We are all one body. There is a part of our body that is suffering greatly now. In Haiti the death toll is over 111,000. Today they buried their archbishop who was killed in the earthquake when the earthquake rocked the country on January 12, 2010 at 4:53 p.m. The 7.0 magnitude quake's epicenter hit just 10 miles west of Porte-au-Prince and its 2 million inhabitants. 3 million people in need of emergency aid after major earthquake.

Hollywood has helped with “Hope for Haiti" one of the most widely distributed prime-time televised benefits in history. Actors staff the phones, musicians play the songs on telethon. Telethon broadcast on more than 25 networks including CNN, MTV and Planet Green and CNN's Anderson Cooper reports live from Haiti during the event. The concert raised over 9.4 million with highlight videos including Beyonce, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, and Madonna.

Locally donations for Haiti relief efforts are overwhelming local charities. However sufficient funding isn’t available to process and send the supplies. People from all over Northeast Ohio are volunteering to leave their jobs, to spend weeks away from home, to collect bandages, gather up clothing, do whatever they can to help the people of Haiti. But they want every kind-hearted donor to know this: some kinds of help are needed more than others.

What is the Catholic Church doing?

What is amazing about the Catholic Church is that we are truly universal. We have this whole network all over the world that is connected. St. Paul proclaims: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”

What’s most needed is money to support the agencies that are working there right now who are capable of providing food, shelter, water for immediate relief as well as rebuilding the structure so that they can rise from this.

This is where Catholic Relief Service excels. They were formed by our United States Bishops to provide relief from disasters and have evolved to not only helping in times of disaster but also rebuilding cultures and helping them to prevent disasters in the future. What CRS is very good at doing is knowing that there are many parts to the body and they find and use the best parts to provide for the weakest.

CRS has worked in Haiti, whose population is 80 percent Catholic, for more than 50 years. The 313 staff of CRS in Haiti started helping people within hours of the earthquake. CRS has committed $25 million to the emergency response and rebuilding of Haiti. Food is moving to people in need. CRS is arranging the distribution of 2,100 metric tons of vegetable oil and grains from the USAID for Food for Peace program.
The CRS/Caritas team helped the St. Francois de Sales Hospital open three operating rooms which are now up and running.

Working with the parishes of Port-au-Prince, CRS is also identifying up to 50 points throughout the city that will be used for food distribution that could reach as many as 150,000. Parish personnel will organize the distributions, registering recipients, as CRS provides food and logistical support. This comes as flights head to Haiti, filled with those who will tend to its sick and injured and those who will mourn its dead.
CRS President Ken Hackett is in Haiti with Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, the CRS board chairman; and Msgr. David Malloy, the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They will attend the Saturday funeral of Joseph Serge Miot, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince who died in the January 12 earthquake. The funeral and burial will be held on the grounds of the city's cathedral, which lies in ruins.
The generous outpouring of support continues as CRS has raised more than $19 million for Haiti relief, with many donations still to be tallied.
The food comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Food for Peace program—supplies that were either already in Haiti or on the way when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck. Initial relief and recovery efforts focused on Port-au-Prince, where at least a third of the city's 3 million people were affected.
Now CRS has been asked to take on large-scale food distributions in Leogane and is organizing the delivery and security needed to get help to 50,000 people there.

"We have been in Haiti for a long time and we will be here for a long time to come," said CRS Country Representative Karel Zelenka. "The work in recovering from this disaster has just begun."

CRS is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support we have received in response to this terrible crisis. Because of logistical difficulties in shipping US-based items to Haiti quickly, monetary donations to CRS will help quake survivors more effectively than in-kind donations

CRS has committed $25 million to the Haiti response. To date, we have already raised $16.5 million in cash and commitments, including a $1 million disaster response donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $225,000 from the New York Yankees baseball team.

CRS is known for it’s efficiency and good use of money. 96% of everything they bring in goes directly to the source less than 4% is for administration. They do this by finding resources that are working and supporting them and enabling them.

“Our teams on the ground say the needs are beyond belief. This money will help us go even further to reach people who are suffering.” Ken Hackett, President of CRS

But God has so constructed the bodyas to give greater honor to a part that is without it,so that there may be no division in the body,but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Immaculee

I had a truly beautiful dinner with Immaculee last night and she told me I have to look on her blog because my picture is on there. I had met her very briefly at Walsh University and given her a prayer medal that I had made and told her she would be in my prayers. I’d also spent a good deal of time talking to her assistant Kathy and when they decided to do this first retreat they invited me to be a part of it. So next thing I know were all at dinner together to Celebrate Immaculee’s birthday and the retreat is this weekend.

It was an enjoyable evening there was laughter and tears. I was so glad to be there and get to spend some time with her. I was going to take the furthest seat away and Walsh’s President Richard Jusseaume insisted that I take the seat next to her. I was grateful to spend time with Richard and his wife as well as Immaculee and her assistant Kathy and a handful of people that flew in from around the country. I also got to finally spend some time speaking with Immaculee about some of her deep experiences of prayer, her time at the missionaries of charity orphanage (which was a highlight of my trip to Rwanda) and her thoughts on the Abortion Holocaust that we face here in America. She truly is a beautiful and inspiring lady. If you have not read her books yet I encourage you to. There is no doubt in my mind that you will be filled with gratitude and thankful to have read it.

I’m excited because they have also invited me to say mass for her retreat at Walsh University this weekend. If you weren’t able to make it to the retreat she will be coming to Cleveland for a speaking conference thanks to Dr. Trew. I’ll keep you posted when I get more information about that.

God Bless,

Fr. Michael J. Denk

Friday, January 8, 2010

An Evening with Mom

Dear Friends,

One of the blessings of being a Diocesan Priest (which means that I will always be assigned to serve the people of the Diocese of Cleveland) is that I’m not too far from home. I still get to be a part of my family. My parents along with some of my brothers and sisters came to mass on Christmas Eve and I surprised my mother by wearing the Vestment that her and her sisters and brother gave me in honor of their mother and father. Mary plays such a big part on our faith journey and she is in a special way a mother to priests. I got to spend a great evening with my mother last Sunday. She was going to Sears to return something of my dad’s and they gave her a gift card. I found this sweater I really liked for like ten bucks and an ipod jack for my truck, and when I went to buy it she handed me the gift card and jokingly said “his loss, your gain.” After that we went to Kohls and I picked out a couple things on sale and we both laughed as I tried on all these different old man hats and skaters hats and ear flap hats. And then when I went to check out and pay, she put her stuff with mine and picked it all up. I told her “mom, this is like the good old days.” We walked out and the snow was so beautiful and sparkling it almost looked fake. We had a great evening just catching up and laughing. There’s nothing like a mother’s love. I’ll have to share with you another time a funny story about one of my favorite Christmas memories of my dad under the tree. A priest friend once said to me “spend as much time with your parents while you still have them.” And I guess I write this to all of you just to remind you and encourage you to take that quality time with your parents. And know that if you are missing your mother or father that “the ties which knit us together in this life do not unravel even in death.” Every time we come to celebrate the Eucharist we are surrounded by the community of angels and saints and they are here with us.

God Bless, Fr. Michael

Upcoming events:
-“Solemn Mass for Life” for those who can’t make it to Washington DC for the March for life is January 22, 2010 at 7pm at the Cathedral with Bishop Lennon (I’ll be concelebrating)
-My presentation on “Lessons from Rwanda for America’s Abortion Holocaust” at Holy Family Stow. Mass at 7pm followed by talk at 8pm. Friday January 15
-Immaculee will be doing a retreat at Walsh University Friday, January 15-17, 2010. see for more info.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

They Were Overjoyed at Seeing the Star.

Can the stars really tell us where to go?

THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM FASCINATES. For millennia, believers, scoffers and the curious have wondered at the Biblical account of the Star. The Bible recounts unusual, or even impossible astronomical events at Christ's birth. For many doubters, the account of the Star is easily dismissed as myth. For many believers, it's a mystery accepted on faith. But what happens if we combine current historical scholarship, astronomical fact and an open mind? Judge for yourself...

Overjoyed at seeing the Star.

Watch this video clip from 3 minutes until the end (or if you want to do it really quick watch the last minute starting at 8 minutes). You’ll be watching the section entitled “Stars and the Bible.” This will give an overview of how we are to understand the meaning of the stars in scripture and better understand the Star of Bethlehem.

So the question is “how do we interpret signs in our life?” Well the important thing is to realize that signs don’t make things happen, but they do indicate something to us, and they do help us to pay attention and to draw near. We can be overjoyed by signs, like the magi, but we must ultimately bring these signs to the house of God and interpret them within the wisdom of the Church and in the light of revelation.

Ultimately we too must lay it all down before Jesus. We must prostrate ourselves before him like the magi did. He is the way and the truth and the life. He is the one who created all of this wonder and awe. And ultimately science, must bow before God, and humbly admit its limitations. Science is only an indicator to the deeper mystery of our God. And so like the magi we must present our gifts to God. We must use science in service to the God who created it all. Too often science is separated from religion and it was never meant to be. Science should lead us deeper into the mystery of God. The magi were scientists who prostrated before the child and offered their gifts to him. We too must be humble before our God and offer our gifts to him. So no matter what your area of expertise is God can be found in it. We can seek him in everything that we do and in everywhere that we go.

We can be overjoyed at seeing the signs in our life, because God does speak to us through all of His Creation. But we do need to make sure to remember that the signs themselves are not God, they have no power. They are merely indicators that help us to draw close to the mystery. Ultimately an authentic sign will lead us to the child and humble us so that we may prostrate before him and offer him everything that we have. And just as the magi departed for their country by another way, authentic signs will cause conversion in us. Our lives will be forever changed because of them.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the housethey saw the child with Mary his mother.They prostrated themselves and did him homage.Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What are the signs in your life right now of God’s presence? Who or what is he working through to bring you to him? Let them lead you to him, and when you discover him don’t worship the signs, or the stars, but worship the child. Worship the Kings of Kings who has come in our midst. This is why we bow our heads before receiving the Eucharist. It is really and truly him. There may have been many different people and signs that lead you here today, but bow before him, worship him and give all of your gifts to him, give your whole life to him today and go another way when you leave here.

For more information about the video go to