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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Greeting a New Day

from Fr. Don Talafous, OSB, Chaplain Emeritus at Saint John's. Collegeville:

Speaking of God in human terms is a necessity for us and it often yields helpful insights. In the Exodus story the author says that as God was about to lead the Jews out of slavery it was "a night of vigil for the Lord" (Exodus 12:42). We have a picture of the Lord staying awake the whole night, alert for any danger to the Israelites. In turn, the writer says, on the anniversary of this day the people "must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations" (v. 42).

Taking this more broadly we hear an echo of a frequent message of Scripture; be awake, alert, vigilant against evil and ready to take opportunities for good. Be as awake for good as we so often are for our gain. The same refrain appears in the Psalms, especially movingly in Psalm (56)57: "My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. I will sing, I will sing your praise. Awake, my soul; awake, lyre and harp, I will awake the dawn." What a refreshing and inspiring way to face each day, each opportunity! I am ready, Lord, to take advantage of all the day brings to praise you and serve others. I will do it joyfully, with a song on my lips. Not only am I ready, I am so ready that I am up and willing to move even before the dawn breaks. That might all be beyond us at the moment but it offers a refreshing and generous goal at which to aim. "My heart is ready, O God; I will awake the dawn."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

    St. John Chrysostom
"You can call happy those who saw Him. But, come to the altar and you will see Him, you will touch Him, you will give to Him holy kisses, you will wash Him with your tears, you will carry Him within you like Mary Most Holy."

Sunday, May 5, 2013


from Sandy Ponto

APRIL 2013
Family and Community Concerns
Kathy Wilmes

What an exciting time to be Family and Community Concerns Chairman.  I looked on in absolute joy as our new shepherd, Pope Francis, was installed this past March.  It is very clear that, true to his name, this leader has a special place in his heart for the poor and marginalized as well as the environment, and that his ministry will reflect that fact.    It is my hope that, as Catholic Christians, we will follow the example of this gracious man and reach out our hands to the poorest among us.

In that same vein, I am privileged to share with you an invitation to watch a special webinar entitled “Our Immigrant Neighbors, Catholic Health Care and the New World of Health Care Reform”.  The speakers at this presentation will outline the many ways in which the Affordable Care Act overlooks the need of our immigrant brothers and sisters in the Lord who are having an especially hard time accessing health care and what part Catholic Health Care has in addressing this situation.  Contact Julie Caulfield at  for more information or to reserve a spot in this special discussion.

I would be remiss if I did not remind you that the month of April is Autism Awareness Month.   Clearly, this is becoming a public health crisis as statistics now show 1/88 children diagnosed with this developmental disability.

I remember the day that nurses and doctors informed my husband and I that Rachel had Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I remember pulling over on the drive home (we drove separate cars) and pounding the dashboard, wondering “why?”  The following week we were at church and I remember praying to the Blessed Mother “My Lady, if anyone knows how to raise a special needs child, surely you do.   Please bless me with your wisdom as I have NO IDEA how to raise this child.”  Although the journey since was not (is not) easy, I truly believe that Our Blessed Mother has always been there, giving me the ideas to see all of us through.   Let us all pray for these special families, that Our Blessed Lady will give them wisdom as they make this journey of faith. 

Cindy Heimer
64722 State Line Rd.
Adams, Mn 55909            

Prayer for A Mission Heart  

Lord, Serving you is my greatest joy. Help me to become as compassionate and caring as Jesus was. Help me share your love for the sick and the poor with kind words and acts of charity. Help me to live your Gospel, especially among those who are separated from you or do not know you at all.  Walk beside me now and always. I promise to do your Will always until the day I am home with you and all the Saints of heaven. Amen

Saints Corner – St. Rita – May 22.

At an early age, Rita begged her parents to allow her to enter a convent.  Instead they arranged a marriage for her. Rita became a good wife and mother but her husband mistreated her.  He taught their children his evil ways.  Her husband was stabbed by an enemy.  Before he died, he expressed sorrow for his sins because Rita prayed for him. Shortly after her husband’s death, her two sons died leaving Rita alone.  Rita spent her time in prayer, penance and good works.  She entered the convent of the Augustinian nuns.  Sister Rita had a devotion to the Passion of Christ.  She said “Please let me suffer like You, divine Savior”.  One day a thorn from a crucifix struck her on the forehead.  It left a deep wound which did not heal and caused her much suffering for the rest of her life.  St. Rita is the patron of family problems because of her good example of a wife and mother. 


The material for this article is from the National Council of Catholic Women Spirituality Commission .
We learn that faith is the cornerstone of our lives – temporal and eternal.  And just as food fuels our bodies, prayer fuels our ever important and essential faith.

Knowing this, we must also nourish ourselves with daily prayer – calling upon Christ, the saints, and the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady, for patience, intercession and grace –a grace that deepens with each day as we draw closer to our Lord.

Prayer for individuals and for groups rests at the heart of our living Catholic faith – following in the example of our blessed Lord with mental and vocal prayer to God the Father.  It can be challenging to incorporate formal prayer into our daily lives, but it doesn’t have to be so.  There are several wonderful Catholic prayer activities on the Internet which provides simple guidance on the topic of daily prayer. One of many examples is the Apostleship of Prayer effort.  Take some time to peruse the website, try out the various prayers, find a prayer which you would like to memorize or bookmark the website for reference during your prayer time.  The morning offering prayer is a wonderful way to start the day.

Another option that taps into the depth of Catholic tradition is a prayer of Marian consecration.  The daily offering of one’s effort to the Blessed Mother to help bring the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a powerful prayer to consider. The St. Kolbe website resource to facilitate Marian consecration is

Many parishes have recurring schedules times of Eucharistic adoration and pray the rosary.  We know the importance of seeking out group prayer activities, but our faith formation can be easily expanded into our daily private lives.  Both aspects of prayer are essential to making sense of events that we cannot otherwise comprehend.  Whether at Gethsemane or when Christ would pray alone at night to his Father, Christ clearly demonstrated that He desired his followers to pursue active, daily prayer lives.  Doing so will only deepen our ability forever and more deeply to understand “Thy will be done.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Easter Joy

From Fr. Don Talafous, Chaplain Emeritus, Saint John's Collegeville–

Easter hope and Easter joy. There is for many, I suspect, some difficulty with believing these are real. For one thing, the hope and belief we may have as Christians in a final resurrection, that last triumph over death, gets little support in our surroundings. Nonbelievers just don't believe it and Christians feel a bit apologetic about stressing it. It seems to imply that we shouldn't take this world and our tasks here seriously and we all know how much work this world needs from people of good will.
Perhaps there's a danger that we preachers speak of Easter in a way that is itself too up in the air. The hope and joy of Easter, like every other good in our faith, comes to us, to the world through human beings. The power of the Risen Christ working in those who put their trust in Him has to show itself in practical ways around us, in our lives. Easter hope becomes tangible when the neighborhood improves, when honesty grows more prevalent, when more people are ready to work for the safety of little children. Easter joy is apparent when those who believe in the Risen Lord show by their spirit that they are not crushed by the world, that they can still sing and laugh.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Robby, the Piano Student

from Betty Kellen and Angie Mixner
At the prodding of my friends I am writing this story. My name is Mildred Honor and I am a former elementary  school music teacher from Des Moines , Iowa .  
I have always supplemented my income by teaching piano lessons - something I have done for over 30 years. 
During those years I found that children have many levels of musical ability, and even though I have never had  the pleasure of having a prodigy, I have taught some very talented students. However, I have also had my share of what I call
'musically challenged' pupils - one such pupil being Robby..  
Robby was 11 years old when his mother (a single mom) dropped him off for his first piano lesson. I prefer  that  students (especially boys) begin at an earlier age, which I explained  to Robby. But Robby said that it had always been his mother's  dream to hear him play the piano, so I took him as a student.  
Well, Robby began his piano lessons and from the beginning I thought it was a hopeless endeavor. As much as  Robby tried, he lacked the sense of tone and basic rhythm needed to  excel. But he dutifully reviewed his scales and some elementary piano  pieces that I require all my students to learn. Over the months he  tried and tried while I listened and cringed and tried to encourage  him.  
At the end of each weekly lesson he would always say 'My mom's going to hear me play someday'. But to me, it seemed hopeless, he just did not have any inborn ability.
I only knew his mother from a distance as she dropped Robby off or waited in her aged car to pick him up. She always  waved and smiled, but never  dropped in.  
Then one day Robby stopped coming for his lessons. I thought about calling him, but assumed that because of his  lack of ability he had decided to pursue something else. I was also  glad that he had stopped coming - he was a bad advertisement for my  teaching!  
Several weeks later I mailed a flyer recital to the students' homes. To my surprise, Robby (who had received a  flyer) asked me if he could be in the recital. I told him that the  recital was for current pupils and that because he had dropped out, he  really did not qualify.
He told me that his mother had been sick and unable to take him to his piano lessons, but that he had been  practicing. 'Please Miss Honor, I've just got to play' he insisted. I  don't know what led me to allow him to play in the recital - perhaps it  was his insistence or maybe something inside of me saying that it  would be all  right.  
The night of the recital came and the high school gymnasium was packed with parents, relatives and friends. I  put Robby last in the program, just before I was to come up and thank  all the students and play a finishing piece. I thought that any damage  he might do would come at the end of the program and I could  always salvage his poor performance through my 'curtain closer'.  
Well, the recital went off without a hitch, the students had been practicing and it showed. Then Robby came up  on the stage. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair looked as though  he had run an egg beater through it. 'Why wasn't he dressed up like  the other students?' I thought. 'Why didn't his mother at least  make him comb his hair for this special night?'  
Robby pulled out the piano bench, and I was surprised when he announced that he had chosen to play Mozart's Concerto  No..21 in C Major. I was  not prepared for what I heard next.  His fingers were light on the keys, they even danced nimbly on the  ivories. He went from pianissimo to fortissimo, from allegro to virtuoso;  his suspended chords that Mozart demands were magnificent!  
Never had I heard Mozart played so well by anyone his
After six and a half minutes he ended in a grand crescendo, and everyone was on their feet in wild applause!  Overcome and in tears, I ran up onstage and put my arms around Robby in joy. 'I have never heard you play like that Robby, how did you do it?  
' Through the microphone Robby explained: 'Well, Miss Honor ..... remember I told you that my mom was sick?  Well, she actually had cancer and passed away this morning. And well  ...... she was born deaf, so tonight was the first time she had ever  heard me play, and I wanted to make it special.' 
There wasn't a dry eye in  the house that evening. As the people from Social Services led Robby from the stage to be  placed into foster care, I noticed that even their eyes were red and  puffy. I thought to myself then how much richer my life had been for  taking Robby as my pupil.  
No, I have never had a prodigy, but that night I became a prodigy ........ of Robby. He was the teacher and I  was the pupil, for he had taught me the meaning of perseverance and  love and believing in yourself, and may be even taking a chance on someone and you didn't know why.  
Robby was killed years later in the senseless bombing of the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City in  April, 1995.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013

See how much he loved him...

from Father Don Talafous, OSB (Chaplain Emeritus, Saint John's University, Collegeville, MN)

Painting by Karl Isakson
As Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) those standing about remarked: "See how much He loved him!" The fact that Jesus stands outside the tomb of the recently deceased Lazarus and weeps shows how much He valued Lazarus' friendship. The story goes on to show us Jesus calling Lazarus out of the tomb and back to life. "See how much He loved him!" John's Gospel is full of lines that offer several possible interpretations. Can't we see in the fact that Jesus raises Lazarus back to life another indication of how much He loved him? Furthermore John means for the modern reader to see a picture here of how much Jesus loves all of us, enough to bring us all back to life and even here and now to invigorate our slack and stumbling selves.

And there's more suggested in the many-layered writing of John: the love of anyone of us for another is a power that can bring the other back to life, revitalize a dead, somnolent existence. In our relationships we see again and again how life-giving love is. Love brings out intelligence and generosity, hope and courage in those who are loved, awakes dormant potential. Love makes people bloom who would otherwise stay slow-growing. Warmed by love, they come out like those daring crocuses that poke their heads out of the snow in early March in northern climes. We are both able to give this kind of love and see its results and to receive this kind of love and produce these results. Much of the good in anyone of us is the result of parents, teachers, coaches, friends who took the time and effort to love into life some vaguely formed quality of ours, to encourage what another without love would never see. "See how much He loved him."