Category: Pastor’s Blog

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

Russo’s Reflections 03-05-2017

SEASON OF LENT
Lent is a season of spiritual renewal as we prepare for the Paschal Mystery; the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is a season of prayer, fasting, reconciliation, penance, sacrifice, selfdenial and almsgiving. Lent is a time of quiet reflection, sitting in the classroom of silence allowing Christ to enter the inner room of our hearts. It is a reminder to all of us that we are sinners in need of God’s grace. Our God is patiently waiting for us to leave our sinful life behind and return to him. This is the beauty of Lent. It is a time of conversion and transformation, a time for us to step out of our comfort zone, surrender our will to God’s will and allow Him to stretch us and shape us with His hand, for He is the potter, we are the clay.

This is a season of self-denial. As followers of Christ, Jesus reminds us what it means to be a disciple. If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself? (Luke 9: 23-25)

Daily we are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Christ. Lent is a wonderful opportunity for us to “kick it up a notch!” and prepare the body, mind and soul for six weeks of intense spiritual training. This is the season to strip ourselves of sin and rely solely on the grace of God. The best way to achieve this is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which is offered every Saturday from 3:30-4:30 pm and Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 pm in the chapel (located across from the parish office) or by appointment. Also, Reconciliation will be offered on Thursday, March 16 from 5:00-8:00 pm.

Please reserve Friday, March 17 at 7:00 pm for a Healing Service with Fr. Mathias Thelen in the church.

Over the next six weeks let us limit our time in front of the television and/or computer and increase our time with family or spiritual reading. Not sure what to read? Check out the parish library, there are plenty of books for all of us to learn more about our faith, the saints, Church teaching, sacraments, morality, scripture, etc.

Let us not forget about fasting. Why fasting? Because it is a discipline that helps us to avoid sin and the near occasion of sin. It also strengthens the will so as not to give into temptation. In the gospel today Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights (Luke 4:1-13). Jesus spent much time in the classroom of silence praying to his heavenly Father, fasting and defeating the tempter. Let us do the same!

Have a blessed Lenten Season!
Fr. Tony

Andrew’s Articulations 2017-02-26

Dear Parishioners,
We are often in a state of frustration, helpless over what makes life difficult. One common experience of this is during a job search, application, and interview, when we hand our future to someone else whom we don’t know. But HAVE HOPE! This morning’s gospel says, “seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt. 6: 33).

Having said this, how practically does one seek “the kingdom”? Remember that when we were baptized we were handed over to God, and made members of the Church, which is the kingdom. Christ is the head of that kingdom, and we join with him as sons and daughters of the Father, we love with the Love of the Holy Spirit, and thusly we participate in the divine life of God (think, “through Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”). This means that we have the whole power of God who created the universe, stars included, to back us up. In some indescribable way, God is providentially caring for you right now.

If so, why can I not seem to experience the power of God practically in my life? St. John the Baptist says “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3: 30). Christ says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 5: 3). Again he says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Lk. 18: 25). The point is to end possessiveness of oneself. The classic phrase is “ a b a n d o n m e n t t o D i v i n e Providence” (there is a book with that name by Jean-Pierre de Caussade).

To bring us back to the beginning, we are often frustrated with our own weaknesses and that of others. We want control. But this is misguided. It is truly liberating to hand ourselves, and specifically our future, to God who is beyond wise, beyond all that we can conceive. Do not be afraid. This is the beginning of real happiness in this life. Perhaps we are now living this reality without having named “abandonment” as the key. It would be good to examine our lives for that. If you want to take the risk and hand yourself over to God, perhaps a way to start is to hand even that need over to him. Abandonment to God makes all burdens “easy and light” (see Mt. 11: 30).

God bless you all,
Andrew Ayers

From Heart to Heart (Fr. Peter) 02-12-2017

This Sunday’s first reading (Sir 15:15-20) is about choices: big choices we are called to make in this lifetime, and their results. Our lives are made of many choices, big and small. When I look at you and your beautiful children during Mass from the sanctuary, or when you bring your children or grandchildren to school, or come to pick them up after school, I see choices you have made. Big choices like answering the call to live in Holy Matrimony. And the results are evident. Your faith, your family, notwithstanding all the struggles and imperfections every person and every family deals with, is something to behold and admire!

It warms my heart to see so much life – literally- in our parish! Thank you for answering God’s call so beautifully. This Sunday we welcome Andrew Ayers, who is preparing for priesthood at Mundelein Seminary and will be with us until this summer for his internship.

It is a great blessing to have a seminarian again among us. Andrew’s presence in our parish implicitly says something about a choice. A powerful choice. Something that collides pretty much with what the world generally thinks about a happy life. A life totally dedicated to God, made of many renunciations, even to legitimate and inherently good things. Like the freedom to govern one’s life, to pursue a career, to accumulate wealth, to form a family, etc. I know it looks foolish in the eyes of much of the world of today who thinks happiness lies in the fulfillment of all desires, including those morally wrong. Pretty much like your choices in married life look like to a world that has forgotten the meaning of sacrifice and the Love that motivates it.  In different ways, both the vocation to family and that of special consecration to God in priesthood speak to us about powerful choices we make. Choices which are the result of knowing and trusting God’s loving will for us. Big choices which need small every-day choices to confirm and nourish these commitments. Thank you for your care in nourishing your spiritual life through Sunday Mass, Adoration, personal prayer, Bible studies, ongoing catechesis and in many other ways. Pray for vocations to priesthood! That is the one thing Jesus asked us to do when he spoke about the great need in spreading his Kingdom: the harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (Lk 10:2) Pray and live your vocation to the full! I think those are the best things we can do to truly make of our lives something big, as God our Father wants us to.

Wishing you a blessed week!
Fr. Peter

From Heart to Heart (Fr. Peter) 02-05-2017

Dear parishioners,
These are my first words to you in this new capacity of associate pastor at  Our Lady of Consolation. I am very grateful both to Fr. Tony and Fr. Darrel for their kind words of welcome and appreciation in last week’s bulletin.

As I write this first bulletin article, I still have fresh in my mind the many faces of those who came to me last Sunday after the Masses to welcome me and thank me for my presence here at OLC. I am the one grateful for the possibility of serving you in your purpose of becoming the godly persons Our Lord wants you to be! This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with a very clear identity and vocation, that of being “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. What an incredible grace for us, poor sinners, men and women lacking in so many ways, to be chosen by God and called in such a special way! The words of the psalmist come to mind:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor. (Ps 8:3-5)

Yes, our Creator and Redeemer crowned us with glory and honor! Let us rejoice in this identity given to us by God! Let us ponder on these truths in our liturgies, our personal prayer, at home and at church. Let us bring this gift of our identity to our families, at our workplace and in society at large. The world needs this, desperately needs this, even if it often seems to say the opposite. We become firm and rooted in this identity by first listening to, welcoming the Word of God like Mary, in the quiet of our prayer, generously making ourselves available to God’s plan of salvation, with  faith and trust in Him. Mary brought forth fruit in her life, the Word became flesh in her and thus she brought true consolation to the world, Jesus the Savior of mankind. Rightly is she called “Our Lady of  Consolation”!

When I found out that our parish had an Adoration chapel available 24/7, I thought: what an amazing opportunity this is for us, to come and abundantly receive light, from the very light of the world, Jesus Christ present with us in the humble form of the Eucharist. My first invitation to you is: come and receive light! Come and adore the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament! Open, read and welcome the Word of God. Let it become flesh in you. You will become light yourself and salt of the earth. This is my prayer for you as I begin my ministry here at OLC!

Yours,
Fr. Peter