Category: Pastor’s Blog

Andrew’s Articulations 06-11-2017

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

God is consistent, reliable, constant, true, and generally, more stable than even the ground we stand on. He is before all things. That he exists, we know because all that exists must be sourced in something eternal. However, we cannot even begin to understand who or what he is. It is said that if we think we have found who God is, or defined him, then we have only found an idol. Whenever we describe him, he is always greater than our description.

That being said, the transcendent God also keeps us in a relationship with him. He reveals things to us, like that he is a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet one God. The Father is the kind ruler of all things. He sent his son into our state of being in order to offer us a share in that divine life. Remember that love means to desire the very best for another, so much so that one is willing to die so that the other may have the best. God has an inexhaustible love for all of us his children. Thus, he sent his Son to us.

Our love for our brothers and sisters joins us in Christ’s work of redemption. God has given us this gift of his divine life, especially when we are at Mass and receive him. And so, this knowledge should give us a little spring in our step as we spread his good news to all we meet. The number one method of evangelization is to enter into the life of the Trinity. Know that you are loved by the Father, offered to him by the Son, and filled with the love of the Holy Spirit. This love will bring you to defend God’s honor, do as he does in trying to bring him to all people, and will give you serenity, even in dark times. That serenity will be really attractive to all you meet, and they will say “I want that serenity also.”

God bless you all,
Andrew Ayres

From Heart to Heart (Fr. Peter) 06-07-2017

PENTECOST As a convert to the Catholic faith, I have a special appreciation of this particular liturgical season which comes after the Solemnity of Pentecost. With Pentecost we conclude the Easter time, but… not really. Let me elaborate on that.

On the first and second Sunday after Pentecost, we do not resume the Sundays of ordinary time (unlike we do with the weekdays) right away. There are two Sundays on our calendar, which are very peculiar to Roman Catholic Liturgy: Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi.

There are important theological reasons behind this choice of the Church. With Easter and the Easter season (which concludes with Pentecost), we have received the fullness of Revelation: God revealed himself to us and did so fully. The Paschal Mystery revealed to us how much God loved the world and after the Passion, Resurrection, Ascension of Christ and gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we now live in a time when the most important events of our redemption are so to speak behind us. We are called to constantly make them ours by allowing the mystery of God’s presence with his Church to unfold before our eyes, and to faithfully follow Christ’s command to make disciples of all nations.

The Faith in the Holy Trinity, in One Triune God, is not a mere appendix to our beliefs. It is central to our faith and truly to your life. God took centuries to fully reveal himself to us and so the Church felt the need to celebrate with awe and wonder this central aspect of our faith. Trinity Sunday is a special Sunday, following Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, revealed himself to us as the promised gift of the risen Christ, descending from the Father on his beloved ones.

Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, is another joy-filled celebration of God’s closeness to us. A sign of extreme humility on God’s part, a sign of extreme love of the Beloved wanting to be united with his Spouse, the Church. Physically present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. The joy and exultation typical of this feast are something I can’t wait for, every year since I became Catholic.

On the second Friday after Pentecost (usually following Corpus Christi) we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This too is a very Catholic feast, stressing the fact that underlining everything God is and does, is a heart… a heart who so much loved the world to die for us! Same goes for Christ’s Mother and our Mother, Mary, and we venerate her Immaculate Heart on the following Saturday. This year is very special in that regard, as we celebrate 100 years since the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, in Portugal. Here at Our Lady of Consolation, we are particularly celebrating this anniversary with initiatives aimed at deepening our relationship with the Lord through Mary, the most humble servant of the Lord.

Let us rejoice and grow in faith and love, dear brothers and sisters, as we have many reasons to!

May you be blessed!

Fr. Peter

Russo’s Reflections 05-28-2017

AN EVENING OF EXUBERANCE!
I thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s Glow Party last weekend. The evening was filled with excitement, laughter, high energy, great food, and fellowship! If you were unavailable to attend this year, make every effort to attend next year! This event is the annual fundraiser for the OLC Education Foundation, which helps finance all the educational programs in our parish community. Because of your generosity the follow ministries and programs are funded through the OLCEF:
♦ Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
(RCIA)
♦ Faith Formation
♦ OLC School (PK-8th)
♦ Bible Studies
♦ Marriage Prep
♦ Baptismal Prep
♦ Lighthouse Catholic Media CD’s
♦ Distribution of Books at Christmas

The OLC Education Foundation truly makes a difference in the lives of our adults and children. Please continue to give generously to the education foundation.

I would like to thank Amy Hartman, Jennifer Jakary, MaryBeth Readwin,
Lori Warwick, the committee members and the many volunteers who gave of their time and talent in organizing this event so masterfully that made it a grand success. Well done, good and faithful servants!

MEMORIAL DAY
Memorial Day weekend begins the season of summer and extreme busyness
for all of us. Over the next few months our calendars will be filled with numerous events and activities, such as, graduation parties, weddings, family gatherings, sporting events, vacations, etc. As we prepare to enjoy the summer months with family and friends, let us begin by remembering all who have gone before us to eternal life, especially the men and women who died in military service so that we may continue to live in freedom. Please join us Monday, May 29 at 9:00 am as we celebrate our Memorial Day Mass, thanking God for the gift of freedom and praying for all of our brothers and sisters who have gone before us to eternal life.

Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day!
Fr. Tony

Russo’s Reflections 05-21-2017

Ordination of Priests
On Saturday, June 3, 2017, at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Grand Rapids, the Church celebrates the Sacrament of Holy Orders and will ordain 3 men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Please pray for these men as the begin their pastoral appointments on July 1, 2017.

Fr. Stephen J. Durkee, 27, is appointed parochial vicar of Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Rockford.
Fr. Steven W. Geerling, 43, is appointed parochial vicar of St. John Vianney Parish, Wyoming.
Fr. Kyle J. Kilpatrick, 30, is appointed parochial vicar of St. Francis de Sales Parish, Holland.

New Parochial Vicar
This past Sunday it was announced that OLC will be assigned a new parochial vicar (associate pastor) beginning July 1. Once again, Our Lady of Consolation is blessed to have a newly ordained priest assigned to our parish. I look forward to attending the Ordination of Priest for Deacon Stephen J. Durkee.

If you are aware of a young man who is interested or has inquired about the priesthood or if you thought to yourself, “I think he would be a good candidate for the priesthood”, I would encourage you to invite him to attend the Ordination of Priests on June 3 at 10:00AM at the Cathedral of St. Andrew. As a community of believers let us storm the gates of heaven with our prayers asking our God to call young men to serve Him at the altar and young women to serve Him in religious life.

Have a blessed week!
Fr. Tony

From Heart to Heart (Fr. Peter) 04-30-2017

The Easter Season is finally here! And with it many of those celebrations so characteristic of our Catholic life: Baptisms, First Holy Communion, Confirmations, Weddings, Priestly and Deacon’s Ordinations. All this in the beautiful setting of Spring, for us in the Northern Hemisphere at least, when we see nature all around us come back to life and blossoming with its typical splendor!

God speaks to us in many ways and one of them is through the language & rhythm of nature. Everything around us speaks to us about renewal; how about our spiritual lives? We believe that the basis for our interior renewal, as sons and daughters of God, consists not only in hoping, but is actually the belief in a fact that took place two millennia ago, which radically changed everything. It is the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Liturgy stresses, this truth “in his flesh”. It is Him, in his risen Body, who encounters us at every Mass and unites us to him in his sacrifice to the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Sacrifice of the Cross, Jesus’ total offering of himself to the Father, is re-presented to us at every Mass and through the gift of his Body and Blood Jesus unites us to him in this great work of renewal of the whole world, which we call redemption.

Over two weekends here in our parish we will see with joy and delight how many of our children will receive for the first time Jesus in his Body and Blood. The solemnity of these festivities should be a powerful reminder of how we are to receive and unite ourselves to the risen Lord. Girls are often dressed as little brides on this occasion, boys in their best, reminding us that our souls are destined to be united to the Lord in the same way a bride and a groom are united to each other. Mass is not only a banquet, but a nuptial banquet, in which each one of us is the bride because we are the Church that Christ won for himself through the ultimate sacrifice. Do we really feel like that when we receive Holy Communion? When we come in for Mass? When we participate in the Liturgy? Every Mass is our wedding day! Our wedding with the Lord. Consecrated men and women remind us of this truth through the sign of their consecrated celibacy: they do not marry because they point to the ultimate truth, which is that even when one is married, we should never forget its the Lord we should be wedded to!  And our marriages have to be a sign and instrument [the very definition of sacrament] of Christ’s marriage with his Spouse, the Church.

The white the children wear for their First Communion is an exterior sign of how our souls should be when we receive the Lord in Holy Communion. How clean is our soul when we go to Communion? When was the last time we approached the Sacrament of Reconciliation? The Church says it should occur every time we commit a grave sin and at least once a year. At least. All this is not to make us scrupulous and afraid of God, it only reminds us of taking the Lord seriously and lovingly. Would you dare go to a wedding with dirty clothes? The joy and excitement of First Communicants is  another reminder of how we should always approach the Lord! Certainly the uniqueness of a “first” contributes to that, but let us be children once again with them! Let us relive our own First Communion! Let us at least aspire to be like that whenever we attend Mass. Wish you all a blessed season of Easter!

Andrew’s Articulations 04-16-2017

THE RESURRECTION
There is not a single thing that we can accomplish without the power of God to back us up. This is most true with regards to freedom from sin and  death. God had revealed this in the Old Testament when he said “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is your God, the Lord alone. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5) Because of our extraordinary weakness, human beings could not grasp that  love, instead of servitude to a law, is primary.

God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to give us a way out of our incredibly dark experience of sin and death, by refocusing the emphasis of our life from conformity to law to the love of God. Now, the law is followed because we love God.

Imagine, then, the discoverers of the empty tomb, and their extraordinary jubilation at Christ’s reappearance after the Resurrection. Not only was their inspiring leader, their dear brother, and greatest friend no longer dead, whose crucifixion had brought acute pain and fear, but perhaps his message came back to mind: he came that we might have life (see John 10: 10). He wanted to show us a new way wherein death has lost its “sting” (see 1 Corinthians 15: 55), where suffering has meaning, and eternal life is the reward. This is one way in which the Resurrection changes everything.

Andrew Ayers

Russo’s Reflections 04-02-2017

THE VEILING OF THE CRUCIFIX AND MARY

What is the purpose of covering the crucifix and the statue if Mary in the last two weeks in Lent? First, because the Church gives all parishes the option to participate in this custom. “The practice of covering crosses and images in the church may be observed… the crosses are to be covered until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Images are to remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.” (The Roman Missal, Pg. 113) Second, the custom of veiling crosses and images is a reminder for us to focus and meditate on Christ’s Redemption for the world and of interior conversion. It is only through the grace of God that we undergo spiritual conversion, a transformation of heart and mind as we prepare for the resurrection.

At the start of the Lenten Season we are reminded by our Lord to repent of our sins, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The word repent means “conversion”, a “change of heart” a “turning to God” or a “returning to Him” (Isaiah 31:6; Hosea 6:1) The Greek word, Metanoia means “conversion”, a moral change, a sinner turning towards or returning to God and living a life of virtue. As disciples of Christ we are called to live a life of holiness and exercise the Theological Virtues of faith, hope and charity and the Cardinal Moral Virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. In order for us to accomplish this we need to change our sinful ways and under go a transformation of mind and heart. The veiling of the crucifix and the statue of Mary reminds us of this interior conversion.

CATHOLIC SERVICES APPEAL

Three weeks ago we began CSA 2017, So Faith May Flourish. Catholic Services Appeal is the annual pledge drive for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Our Lady of Consolation assessment is $224,972. This amount is our responsibility to pay to the diocese to help fund the numerous programs, services, and ministries in our diocese.

To date 217 families, representing 13% of our parish households, have pledged 40% of our parish goal. What happens if we exceed our assessment? Any funds raised over and beyond our assessment are then returned to OLC. If you have already made a pledge to CSA I thank you for your commitment and generosity. If not, I am asking you to please prayerfully consider making a pledge. The diocese recommends that we pledge 1% of our annual income. Thank you for your consideration and participation in CSA, 2017.

Have a blessed week!
Fr. Tony

Andrew’s Articulations 03-26-2017

Dear Parishioners,
I know from personal experience, especially as I enter into ministerial life for the first time, that new beginnings mean opportunities gain new competences. The funny thing is, in order to learn new skills, one has to experience a time of cluelessness. During this internship I have felt periods of absolute cluelessness.

I think that the shepherd David in our first reading must have felt the exact same way. Imagine going from tending sheep to tending a nation. Yet, David really is the most holy of all Israel’s kings. That is because he had to quit a role that was simple, safe, and with no responsibility over other people, and he relied entirely on God. It is my belief that, in some ways, the best leaders are those who do not know what they are doing, who are out of their depth.

A sure method of ruining this opportunity is with pride refuse to admit to one’s weakness. Then, one will blunder, and everyone will see a “faker.” Another option is to rely, not just on others, but most of all on God. When we do not know what we are doing, and we ask the Holy Spirit’s power to work in spite of our mistakes, we will learn see more effective success than if we took charge entirely ourselves. The Holy Spirit’s power is surer than the ground on which we stand. Friends, peoples, and nations may pass away, but God will always be consistent. His providence governs all. Just adore the Light of the World, Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and he will give you his Spirit.
God bless you all,

Andrew Ayers

From Heart to Heart (Fr. Peter) 03-19-2017

Dear parishioners,

Among the three year cycle of Sunday Mass readings the current one (Year A) is the one I love most for the Lenten season. It is deeply rooted in the most ancient traditions of the Roman Rite, especially when it comes to the baptismal aspect of Easter and the 40 days of preparation leading up to it, which we call Lent.

The Church’s thought is the same, so much so that a parish could always choose Year A for Sunday Mass readings in Lent, especially when there are baptisms to be celebrated in the parish community that year at Easter. And even during Years B and C, we are encouraged for one of the Masses throughout the week to resume the preceding Sunday’s readings of Year A. Sundays of Year A also have a proper Preface at Mass (the prayer the priest sings or recites between the dialogue “The Lord be with you”… “Lift up your hearts”… and the Sanctus – Holy, Holy, Holy) which is a beautifully crafted resumé of the main teachings of that particular Gospel, full of theological meaning and meant to provide us with rich spiritual nourishment.

I invite you throughout these Sundays of Lent to pay particular attention to the Preface and how it brings together some of the teachings of the Gospel. If you have the Magnificat or Seasonal Missalette or other liturgical resources where the Mass readings and the Propers (the proper prayers for each Mass) are provided, a good way to bring to fruition these liturgical riches of the Church in our own spiritual life would be to go to these prayers and readings and meditate on them, bringing them into your prayer, at home or at the Adoration chapel or even during your lunch at work.

After the first two Sundays in Lent, in which the Gospel theme is the same for Year A, B and C, namely the Temptations and the Transfiguration, and before Palm Sunday, the Roman Rite has three Sundays in which the Gospel is always chosen from John (like on Good Friday). A peculiarity of the Gospel according to John is that many chapters follow the pattern of a dialogue, encounter, often very personal, that Jesus has with someone. Therefore, this Sunday we have the encounter with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4), next Sunday the healing of the blind man (Jn 9) and for the fifth Sunday as we get closer to Easter, the choice falls on the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11). To the Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals himself as the living water (notice the reference to baptism), to the blind man he reveals himself as the Light (notice again the baptismal reference in that the healing occurs through this man’s washing himself at the Pool of Siloam) and to Lazarus and his friends Jesus reveals himself as the Resurrection and Life.

I invite you to pay attention at how Jesus impacts the lives of those he encounters in these three Gospels. He encounters people in their ordinary lives, everyday activities and yes, dramas like the death of Lazarus. Jesus wants that transformation to take place in you and me as well. Will you follow the path of those he encountered and let themselves be transformed by Jesus? Will you let yourself be encountered by Jesus in your ordinary life? “If you knew the gift of God…” (Jn 4:10). Do you know the gift of God for you? There is much more in store for you, more than you can imagine!

My prayer for you is to encounter and welcome Jesus this Lent in your life, following in the footsteps of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, whom we celebrate this week.

God’s blessing on you always!

Fr. Peter

Russo’s Reflections 03-12-2017

Catholic Services Appeal
As Christians we are called to live out the two greatest commandments, to love the Lord your God with all of your mind, heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-40). The 2017 Catholic Services Appeal, So Faith May Flourish is a great opportunity to exercise these commandments.

What is Catholic Services Appeal? CSA is the annual pledge drive for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Through the combined efforts of our 82 parishes and missions, the Catholic Services Appeal helps fund vital programs, services, and ministries in the 11-county Diocese of Grand Rapids. Every parish in the diocese is assessed based on revenues collected at the end of the fiscal year. Our Lady of Consolation assessment is $224,972. This amount is our responsibility to pay to the diocese to help fund the numerous programs, services, and ministries in our diocese.

The diocese recommends pledging 1% of your annual income. I am asking you to please prayerfully consider making a contribution and returning the pledge card to the parish office. I realize with a sluggish economy it may be difficult for some of our families to participate in this year’s CSA. If so, please consider making a one time gift of $100. If you are not able to do so at this time, I would encourage you to please fill out a pledge card and enter 0 for the amount and return it to parish office. We are looking for 100% participation from our parish community.

Together let us take advantage of this opportunity and exercise the two greatest commandments of loving God with our entire heart, mind and soul, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Again, thank you for your support for this diocesan appeal.

The Light is ON for You

As we continue our Lenten journey in the desert Bishop Walkowiak calls on all the faithful to be united in celebrating God’s gift of mercy on Thursday, March 16, when every Catholic church in the Diocese of Grand Rapids will be open from 5:00-8:00 PM to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Priests will be available to hear confessions during that time. Please inform your family, friends, co-workers about this great opportunity of mercy. Also, please invite those who have been away from the Church for some time and may be looking for an opportunity to return.

Have a blessed week! Fr. Tony