Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Music

I highly recommend this music to get you into the Spirit of Advent!    You can download it now and listen or you can order one of those old fashioned CDs:)

To Download the CD Click Here

To order the CD Version Click here:

Here's some good YouTube videos too for your enjoyment:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Saint Andrew Novena... from Advent until Christmas

What do you really want for Christmas?  

 Can it really come in a box?  Is there something more that you want?  Maybe it is for healing in your marriage... for a closeness to God... for a son or daughter who has lost their way... for a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol to find freedom... for inner peace... for freedom from a particular sin or temptation... for Christ to come into your heart... to really believe in God.. these are real Christmas Miracles. 

You can ask God for any of these!

One popular Advent devotion always begins on November 30, the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle. On this day, we begin the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, also known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer or simply the Christmas Novena. While a novena is technically a nine-day prayer (the word comes from the Latin word for nine, novem), the name is sometimes applied to any prayer that we say repeatedly over a series of days.

In this case, Catholics pray the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena prayer 15 times each day from the Feast of Saint Andrew until Christmas. The prayer is addressed to God the Father and asks Him to grant us our request in honor of the birth of His Son on Christmas. It's an excellent prayer to pray with children, because it heightens their anticipation of Christmas, while keeping them focused on the fact that Advent is a time of preparation, and not an extension of the Christmas season.

You can pray the text of the prayer 15 times all at once, or you can spread it out throughout the day. One convenient way to pray it is to recite it five times at each meal, or five times during your morning prayers, five times during your evening prayers, and five times at supper. Be sure, when you begin the novena, to have a particular intention or request in mind, and recall it each time you say the prayer.

Here is a good article on this from the Catholic Universe Bulletin. 

No shave November... Capuchins not impressed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

FrMichael J. Denk

But those who enjoy the things that are above and eternal rather than earthly and perishable, possess an incorruptible, hidden store of which the prophet speaks: Our treasure and salvation have come, wisdom and instruction and piety from the Lord: these are the treasures of justice. Through these, with the help of God’s grace, even earthly possessions are transformed into heavenly blessings; it is a fact that many people use the wealth which is either rightfully left to them or otherwise acquired, as a tool of devotion. By distributing what might be superfluous to support the poor, they are amassing imperishable riches, so that what they have discreetly given cannot be subject to loss. They have properly placed those riches where their heart is; it is a most blessed thing to work to increase such riches rather than to fear that they may pass away. -office of readings

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"My prayers are with you and your loved ones this day."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Fr. Michael

Come, let us sing to the Lord *

and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.
Let us approach him with praise and thanksgiving *
and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photos from the Holy Land

So there are a LOT of pictures here!  This is really so all of the pilgrims can have access to all of the pictures especially the ones that I took of them.  Enjoy!


On the top right you can sort by "Date Created"

Also to download the entire folder (Which will make it easier to access) on the top you will find a tab that says "Folder Actions"  Click on that end then select "Download Folder."

You can also click "Order Prints" if you would like to have them printed and mailed to you.


(Thanks to Betty Jean and David Gantz for snapping a couple of me... they are memories I will treasure). 

Boarding the ship on the Sea of Galilee. 

With Jareer overlooking the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum where Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish, taught the beatitudes and said to Peter: "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."  (Matthew chapter 16)

 Taking in the amazing Sites.  

Praying morning prayer as we went by boat across the Sea of Galilee.  It was very moving to pray the psalms on the very water where Jesus calmed the storms, walked on water, and taught the people.  

Praying before mass at the "Church of St. Peter's House."  

Praying on the shore of the Sea of Galilee:

After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
Jesus and Peter.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21) 

Back safe and sound

Back safe and sound from the Holy Land.  My family was there to greet me there at the airport.  I look forward to sharing the pictures and the stories with all of you! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mass in Bethlehem

via Facebook

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Holy Land - The Holy Sepulcher

10 IX 2012

Today we entered the City of Jerusalem to pray the stations of the cross.  We entered through Herod's gate.  I most enjoyed walking through the city streets, alley ways, and paths.  It was dirty and grimy, but these were the streets that Jesus once walked on, maybe layer upon layer upon layer below, but it was here in this city of Jerusalem that he carried the cross onto his death.  As we walked the "Via Dolorosa" (The way of suffering literally, or the way of the cross).  I most appreciated that it was in this setting that Jesus was forced to carry his cross, through the market place, through the middle of the city, I noticed the church of the flagelation had a large stone outside of the front of it with a round center and two square wholes on either side... I wonder if it was this stone that Jesus was bound to as he was whipped and mocked.  Over and over again I had the image of Jesus being tied up, trapped, helpless, no going back... for example when he was in prison in the cistern, when he was bound and tied, whipped and beaten, and finally when he was bound by nails to the cross. 

There was a mosaic on the ceiling in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where they have the large piece of the true cross.  The mosaic showed Jesus tied up and on the bottom left was a ram caught in a thorny bush.  (like the ram that Isaac found to replace the sacrifice of his son).  
After reaching down a dark hole and touching the relic of the cross we proceeded to the place of the empty tomb. 

When we finally reached the center of the basilica they have an area that holds the burial stone (bed) that they laid the body of Jesus on.  After waiting in line for a half an hour we finally reached it.  As we climbed into the back of the grotto and our eyes adjusted to the candlelight there was a stone bed worn, stained with blood, and smooth.  This was the final place that Jesus' body would ever lie.  I found myself wanting to lie upon it... so I laid my face down and my arms and rested.  I had a unexpected sense of peace.  Peace... Peace... Peace.... "Peace be with you."  

Reflecting back on it I can hear the words of Jesus saying: "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest, take my Yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart."  I felt rest, I felt a moment of Surrender which I so long for and yet find it so difficult to do.  With that came the sense of "learn from me."  It's ok if you suffer, it's ok if you don't get everything that you want, it's ok if you are mistreated, it's ok if you are abadoned, it's ok if you are rejected, it's ok if you are persecuted because you preach what I teach you, it's ok to try and stop manipulating life, and people, and events... come to me, stop wrestling life, stop fighting people, stop trying to make it all your way and learn from me.  Be meek and humble of heart... accept it all, everything, everyone, all of it.... and you will find rest.  You do not have to fear the cross, you do not have to fear suffering, you do not even have to fear the dark night.  My yoke is easy and my burden is light... surrender to me and you will be the good priest that I have created you to be.  Let go of your attachments... let go of your idols, Let go of those who disappoint you, let go of those whom you are too dependent on, and I will provide you with the Father's love.  I am where you will find rest and this is the only way to peace.  You do not, nor should you every think to provide for yourself, take what life gives to you, take it all without trepidition, for you can have this rest.... this peace... this unburdening... that is the freedom that comes with accepting the cross... that is the lightness of my burden..  And when you lay your life down that final time, because I have risen, you too shall rise.  

Celebrating the Eucharist was amazing because again the words in the Roman Missal indicated that the mystery is and was here... in this holy place...  
HERE, I have risen, and I am with you still, Alleluia.
You have laid your hand upon me, alleluia.
Too wonderful for me, this knowledge, alleluia, alleluia.
"Very early when the sun had risen, on teh first day of the week,
they came to THIS tomb.
"Do not be amazed!
you seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified,
He has been raied, he is not HERE.
behold the place where they laid him. 
There was this sense that we are visiting this place that Jesus was... right here in this tomb, on that rock which my hands have touched... but because of the Resurection he is NOT here.  What I mean is that Jesus is NOT limited to this place anymore.   He is with us wherever we are and wherever we go.
We each came on this pilgrimage with our own struggles, our lives are not perfect, there are people and relationships that are not the way that I would like them to be, but all of it is very providential.  There are boulders in my life, in yours, in my spiritual life and yours, in my personal life and yours, and in my priestly life that I of my own accord cannot move... these boulders seem seem so big.   But it was here that the women came worried about how they were going to move such a heavy stone because they wanted to see Jesus one last time.  They wanted to anoint His body and give him a proper burial after the unproper death He had just endured.  
Perhaps there is a heavy stone in your life right now that you can't seem to move.  Maybe it seems like you will never be able to move it.  But when we least expect it, early in the morning Jesus will remove that boulder.  As he did on the Resurrection.  
The greatest mystery of our faith happened because Jesus WASN'T there.  It was actually in His physical absence, the empty tomb, the bed of stone with no body, that they came to believe in the Resurrection.   So it is with us.  It often seems in our lives that when God seems absent, when we face what seem to be insurmountable challenges, when we try to remove the boulders in our lives and can't... it is then... after we have exerted all of our enegery, when we have used up every last resource, when we have finally tried moving it ourselves and surrendered, when we have come to the point that we realize we cannot do it on our own... it is then that God, not us, moves the boulder.

Sometimes in our lives all we can do is... give up... give up our own wills, our own desires, our own way.
All we can do is behold the place where they laid him.  All we can do is trust and believe in the promise of our faith.  In those moments we must stay with the emptiness, stay with the darkness, remain at the empty tomb, lay our heads, our arms and our hearts upon the stone bed and only then will God reveal to us the Resurection.  At that moment of mystery, our stones will be rolled away, what seemed impossible becomes possible, our burden's will be made light, our crosses will be acepted, our surrender will be full and without amends, our will will be Yours and not ours.  Whatever it is that we struggle with, we don't have to reject it, we don't have to try to get rid of it, we don't even have to remove it or avoid it.  We just simply need to surrender, accept the cross, and then and only then will we experience the freedom of this Resurected Life.  

Enjoy the pictures! 

The tree of Zaccheaus  

Archway in Jerusalem. 

Hand print of Christ in Agony.  

Angel outside the Holy Sepulcher. 

Swimming/floating really in the Dead sea  

The Burial Stone where Jesus' Body was laid.  

Cannon Ball into a pit of mud at the "Dead Sea".  Quite possible the first person/priest to do this.  

I have to say I felt like a million bucks after this mud bath!  

Mosaic of the Ram caught in the thorn bush.  

Group Shot on the stairs outside of the Holy Sepulcher.  

Icon of Christ Crucified above the relic of the "True Cross."  

Celebrating Easter Mass at the Empty Tomb.  

The "Pool of Bethesda"  

The Garden of Gethsemane.    

Entering the Church at the Garden of Gethsemane... "Silence."  

The Stone inside the Church that Jesus wept upon and said "Father, not my will but yours."  

The Mount of Olives.  

Sunset from the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem.  

Riding a camel.  

The moment of Consecration at the Holy Sepulcher.