The Gospel for this weekend is one of my favorites. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus sends his disciples on a boat ride while he goes to pray. In the early evening, a storm levies waves against the boat. When Jesus comes, Peter walks on water to meet him but soon begins to sink. There are a few points I would like to share. First, the boat is the Church and there will always be “waves” against it. There are a lot of waves even now! We believe in the promise of Jesus that “the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.”
Second, the violent storm begins in the early evening, but Jesus doesn’t come until the middle of the night. It can feel that way with us when there are storms in our life, wondering where Jesus is. It takes faith that God will provide just at the right time for our salvation.
Finally, Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the waves. The same goes for us. When we focus on all the waves that are happening in our world instead of keeping our eyes on Jesus, we too begin to sink.
Today is the memorial of the martyrdom of Saint Sixtus II and his companions. Saint Cyprian gives us a summary of what it what was like for Christians in the early Church. In the year 258, the Emperor Valerian issued an edict that “bishops, presbyters and deacons shall suffer the death penalty without delay.” Other Christians lost their jobs, wealth and privileges, and if they still professed being Christian, they too were put to death. Saint Cyprian encouraged the faithful stating, “Let all our people fix their minds not on death but rather on immortality; let them commit themselves to the Lord in complete faith and unflinching courage and make their confession (of faith) in joy rather than fear.”
Saint Sixtus II was Pope less than a year before being crucified like Jesus. Among the others martyred soon after Saint Sixtus II was St. Lawrence, a deacon whose feast day is August 10. Many of you know his story. When the emperor demanded the treasures of the Church to be brought to him, St. Lawrence brought forward all the poor, the homeless and crippled that the Church served. The emperor was so upset that he had St. Lawrence put on a grill and burned. Legend has it that Lawrence said to his persecutors, “I am well done on this side, turn me over!”
Next week, I will be hosting the bishops from Kansas. I am looking forward to visiting with them and praying with them also.
All of our Catholic Schools will be opening in the next couple of weeks. As of now, all classes will be in person and not “virtual.” Many unknowns and “what ifs” have been discussed in making this decision. We move forward in faith and hope. Thanks for supporting our Catholic Schools and we look forward to their reopening.
Many of you know we canceled the Annual Seminarian Dinner this year. In place of the dinner, we will be releasing two videos on August 13 to introduce you to the seminarians and co-vocations directors on the website and social media. If you would like to leave a gift to the seminarian fund, please click here. We are blessed to have a donor who agreed to match every gift given from July 29-September 15, $1 for $1, up to $20,000. Thank you for all of your generous support for our seminarians. Please join me in continuing to pray for our seminarians and for an increase in priestly vocations.
Speaking of seminarians, my nephew, Charles, is entering the seminary this fall for the Diocese of Saginaw. He will enter Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit. His discernment to the seminary reminds me a little bit of my own discernment.
I am looking forward to being with men and women who will gather from across the diocese for special events being held on August 15 and August 29, respectively. We adjusted the schedules of these events and are taking precautions to keep those attending safe. For more information on these events please see the Diocesan website. I look forward to being with both groups.
Many of you have heard of Fr. Michael Leiker and the story of his liver transplant. There will be an article on him and his donor in the next Register. However, they were also recently featured on EWTN News Nightly and it’s worth viewing. You can watch it by clicking here.
Recently a woman told me that her daughter and husband had two children (now 6 and 8 years old) but were having trouble getting pregnant again. Someone recommended them to visit the Saint Paul VI Institute in Omaha, which helps women with fertility issues in a very healthy way. To make a long story short, the couple are expecting their third child soon. I’ve heard similar stories on the great work that the Saint Paul VI Institute does—including from my own niece. If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, I encourage you to visit www.salinafertilitycare.org to learn more about the Creighton Model Fertility Care System and the Saint Paul VI Institute in Omaha.
A few weeks ago, I went on a five-day silent retreat. It’s tough to give up the phone or check emails, but the silence and time for reflection was a tremendous blessing and much needed. Our diocese was very much in my prayers.
On August 16, I will be in Clay Center to celebrate the Annual Rural Life Day and present the Monsignor John George Weber Century Farm Award. Speaking of Rural Life, in the latest issue of the Rural Life Magazine, there was a story written by Art Befort from Smith Center on farming in Kansas. Well done!
At the end of August, I hope to attend my goddaughter’s confirmation in Indianapolis before going to Michigan to see my mom for her birthday. I usually have Mass with the residents of her assisted living community, but that’s not possible this year because of visiting restrictions. I talk to my mom frequently; it will be good to see her face to face (even if it’s six feet apart!).
Hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather we been having as well as the wonderful fresh
vegetables and fruit. May God bless you and your families.
Love and prayers,
Saturday, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother
“We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.” St. Louis Marie De Montfort
“How much we need Mary to teach us what it means to satiate God’s Thirsting Love for us, which Jesus came to reveal to us. She did it so beautifully. Yes, Mary allowed God to take possession of her life by her purity, her humility, and her faithful love…Let us seek to grow, under the guidance of our Heavenly Mother.” St. Teresa of Calcutta
“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.'” St. Bernard of Clairvaux