Over the past few weekends, we experienced our own local version of the Super Bowl, but from a Hockey standpoint. It was the annual Silver Stick Hockey Tournament at McMorran Place. This Sunday will draw not only local attention but national attention and even quite a large draw from the international community as tens of millions will have their eyes glued to the TV to see some expensive, brand new, and at times, funny commercials, but also to watch the Denver Broncos, led by legendary quarterback, Peyton Manning, duel the Carolina Panthers and the young phenom quarterback, Cam Newton, in Super Bowl L (Roman numeral for 50) at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.
We have our own version of the Super Bowl, that is, in our Church, but infinitely greater every day and every weekend. Rather than having some of the best athletes in the world show up on a field to pulverize one another for a perishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25), we have the Savior of the world, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who has won for us an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:25), and who is made present at every single celebration of Mass.
This is a critical time of year, not just to eat a great Super Bowl meal and see who wins or loses the “Main Event,” but in our faith, to see what kind of Lent Jesus has prepared for each of us this Lent. When is it? Only three days after the Super Bowl is Ash Wednesday, the launch of Lent – 2016. What will it be like for you this year compared to previous years? Different? The same? Hopefully, different. One question that might pop up in our heads is “what are we going to give up for Lent?” It’s a valid question. But let me add one to that. Rather than ask ourselves what we are going to “give up.” Another question would be what are we going to “give?” In other words, while we usually ask what are we going to take away, deny ourselves, or sacrifice from our normal every day lives, which is important. But another good question to ask is what are we going to do for the Lord or (alms) “give” to others that will be different during these 40, life-changing days compared to previous years? Here are three suggestions:
- Rediscover Jesus! – While we all want to rediscover Jesus in our own lives as we continue to grow in relationship with him daily, I am actually referring to the book. If you haven’t read the book, Rediscover Jesus, by Matthew Kelly, that we handed out at Christmas, read it this Lent. Since there are 40, short reflections (one from each of the 40 chapters) for the 40 days of Lent, it would be quite timely and beneficial to start reading it soon. So if you received a copy, and put it on your shelf, pull it off, and get ready for the kickoff to Lent on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10th.
- Dynamic Catholic’s, “Best Lent Ever” – Beginning Ash Wednesday and continuing through the 40 days of Lent, participants will receive daily inspirational e-mails with short videos from Matthew Kelly intended to lead to a daily habit of prayer. These brief, personal reflections will give you simple ways to bring Jesus into your everyday life. Each day during the program you will receive a brief reflection based on one of the 40 chapters in Rediscover Jesus. It’s FREE! Sign up at http://dynamiccatholic.com/bestlentever/
- Come Encounter Christ – Mark your calendars for three nights this Lent from Feb. 24th-26th. Each night at our parish from 7-8:30pm will feature inspirational preaching from two, young and talented priests, Fr. Patrick Gonyeau and Fr. Ryan Ford, live music, Eucharistic adoration, and confession. Be there!
In regards to the Super Bowl, and since the “Saints” aren’t playing 😉 and who knows how long it will take the Lions to get there, I say, “may the best team win.” More importantly, may you have a blessed, fruitful and super Lent.
In Jesus, Our Victory,
So what do you know? Christ Life was and is such a great experience, but so many of you have told me that you want more. People are more open about sharing their faith, but would like to be better equipped at defending their beliefs or what the Church teaches. One cannot defend what they don’t know.
Beginning Monday, February 22nd (Please note the date change, originally it was to start February 5th) we will begin a program on Monday nights called Growing Faith Project. The program will run in a continual cycle and participants will be able to attend all or just the topics that interest them. You can jump into the program at anytime and leave at any time. It would help to have an idea of what supplies to purchase. Please register by calling the parish office 810-984-2689 or the OLG office at 810-985-5212. If there is enough interest for a morning session, we are open to making that happen.
The session will begin promptly at 6:30PM and run until about 8:30PM at St Stephen Parish Center. We will begin with light snack, prayer and praise and then move into the presentation with time for small group discussion and then large group discussion. Question will always be encouraged.
The line up for the first 4 weeks is as follows:
Monday, February 22: An overview of the Sacraments
Monday February 29: The Ten Commandments
Monday, March 7: Forgiveness and Healing
Monday March 14: The Sacrament of Reconciliation
Give me (810-985-5212) a call if you have any questions or concerns.
Keep movin’ in the Spirit!!!!!
Our Lady of Guadalupe
3110 Goulden Street
Port Huron, MI
Fridays in Lent February 12th thru March 18th, excludes Good Friday
Dinner served from 4 – 7pm
All carry out: $9
Seniors (60+): $8
Children 4-10: $5
Children under 4: Free
Sponsored by Holy Trinity Parish
Join Fr. Ryan Ford (Sacred Heart Major Seminary) and Fr. Patrick Gonyeau (National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica), with live music by Surrender at Holy Trinity Parish in Port Huron!
February 24, 7pm – 8:30pm
February 25, 7pm – 8:30pm
February 26, 7pm – 8:30pm
Renew and energize your personal relationship with Jesus through a dynamic worship experience featuring inspirational preaching, uplifting live music, Eucharistic adoration, and opportunities for private confession!
Have you wondered what it’s like to encounter the living Christ? Have you longed to share your deepest concerns and hear Him speak into your heart? Come, Encounter Christ! will help you to experience the living Christ and inspire you to know Him more.
Hospitality and refreshments will be available at the conclusion of each night.
No need to register – just come and experience the joy of the living Christ!
Share the love of Christ.
Invite a loved one to grow in their relationship with Christ. Have a friend or neighbor who needs the love and mercy of Christ? Invite them to come! Know anyone who has lost faith, left the Catholic Church, or is indifferent to God? Invite them, too!
To learn more:
Last weekend, 13 couples participated in our annual marriage prep seminar led by Dcn. Dennis and his wife, Jo Crimmins, and they did an excellent job! Some of the topics included the Sacrament of Matrimony, Natural Family Planning (NFP), sexuality, communication & conflict management, parenting, legal issues, and financial issues.
While all of these very important topics were covered well, I just want to highlight three dangers to a healthy, faithful and sustainable marriage (and there are many more). Two out of the three dangers, pornography and contraception, that will be mentioned, were covered in the seminar.
First, is pornography. Dcn. Dennis educated the young couples on the danger that pornography can cause to marriages. Pornography, a grave sin against chastity, “consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials” (Catechism 2354).
In addition, there are what is called the 4 A’s of porn: Accessibility, Affordability, Anonymity, and Addiction. It’s easy to get access to it online. Much of it out there is free. While one can use it in the privacy of their own home, and think no one is watching, God sees all, and everything we do these days is tracked electronically. Finally, it’s addictive just like alcohol and gambling but stronger, so strong, that using porn affects the chemicals in the brain similar to when a person uses crack cocaine. “When viewing pornography becomes an addiction, 40 percent of ‘sex addicts’ lose their spouses, 58 percent suffer considerable financial losses, and about a third lose their jobs,” said Pat Fagan at the Family Research Council (Source: http://www.frc.org/onepagers/the-effects-of-pornography-on-individuals-marriage-family-and-community). There are tools to help men and women through addiction. One tool is called Covenant Eyes, which is a Catholic internet filter that also allows one the option to have accountability partners. The other tool is an online therapy and recovery program called Reclaim Sexual Health, also by a Catholic company, named Candeo.
Second, I was blessed to tackle the difficult and controversial topic of contraception. Our faith teaches us that contraception is an intrinsic evil (always an evil act in which no good could ever come from it), and it communicates whether by word or through the language of the body that “I give my spouse everything… except my fertility.” In sum, spouses can never justify using contraception as morally acceptable means (Catechism 2370, 2399).
Having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for three years prior to entering seminary, I worked for a drug wholesaler that sold medications to “mom and pop” pharmacies across the country, the majority of which, did help people. But sadly, it also sold contraception that enabled people in an immoral way. Contraception not only hurts women, but can poison their bodies and even cause death in some cases, which is a realistic side effect. For example, Merck, a manufacturer of the widely-promoted NuvaRing, faced at least 730 lawsuits in the U.S. for blood clot-related injuries and deaths associated with its use. About 40 deaths were linked to NuvaRing” (Source: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). There are more examples. (Just send me an e-mail, and I will send you the presentation… 43 slides plus 50 pages of research that I did as a senior project in my last year of seminary less than two years ago). Contraceptives can also act as abortifacients like through RU-486, Ella and other contraceptives. There are moral implications in taking contraceptives too. Our Church has always taught contraception is morally wrong. Even in 1968, when Pope Paul VI’s letter, Humanae Vitae (Human Life), was made public, there was much resistance in the rebellious culture of the time and even at the highest levels in the Church too.
Third, before couples get married, many are living together. This is a term that has come to be known as “cohabitation.” If a couple lives together before marriage as “brother and sister,” that is fine, although very difficult and rare. If a couple lives together and is involved sexually, they are committing the sin of fornication and would be advised to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. All are called to be chaste before marriage. But cohabitation before marriage can also be dangerous. Why? According to the Catholic News Agency, “couples who live together before marriage actually have a 50% greater chance of divorce than those who don’t. And about 60% of couples who cohabit break up without marrying” (Source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/marriage/cohabitation-and-churchs-teaching/). I challenge all young couples live a chaste life before marriage. Not only pray for your future spouse, but save the gift of your sexuality for your future spouse too. You will be glad you did. If you haven’t been chaste, then start again today, a term called “secondary virginity.” One of the greatest talks I ever heard on the topic of chastity was by a young Catholic named Jason Evert. He is now happily married and part of a strong Catholic network of speakers that can be found at www.chastityproject.com.
I believe we can learn three lessons. First, we are all called to be chaste, meaning that we are called to be faithful to our current vocations. Second, the gift of our sexuality is designed for the purpose of marriage. Christopher West, an expert in St. John Paul II’s, Theology of the Body, says that the marriage covenant “calls the spouses to share in the FREE, TOTAL, FAITHFUL and FRUITFUL love of God” (Source: https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/374/Basic_Theology_of_Marriage___Christopher_West.html). Third, people are not to be used like cars for test driving or to be used as objects for selfish pleasure, but are to be respected as human beings, created with dignity and made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-28).
What are your thoughts? Do you find in your own marriage that you, your spouse or both of you have had a struggle with one or more of the dangers of pornography, contraception, or cohabitation? Perhaps you and your spouse have encountered other problems. What are they? Do you and your spouse talk about it? If not, I challenge you this week to prayerfully and courageously address an issue with your spouse that is long overdue and that has become a danger to your marriage in some way. Bring it to Jesus in prayer to help and heal you. While this is an article that proclaims the teachings of the Church with truth and love, it is not meant to be one of condemnation or judgment. Thanks be to God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Stay tuned in two weeks for the follow-up article, “3 Aids to Struggling Marriages,” while next week will be a focus on Lent.
In The Life, Love and Healing of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ,
Fr. Jeff Allan (e-mail: moc.l1454964705iamg@1454964705nalla1454964705ffejr1454964705f1454964705)
Throughout the season of Winter Ordinary Time, we hear readings of discipleship. Appropriately so, considering it follows the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, Jesus public proclamation to ministry. With our great endeavor of Christ Life, last year, we saw the Spirit enliven many of the people in our parish. It was such a successful program, that we are still seeing the fruits of our labor. You disciples ROCK!
For the past year, we have been wondering what to do next? Many are ready to ‘go out and spread the Good News”, some are asking for ‘more information”. With the efforts of all those bringing others back to the faith, we have a large number of adults who are coming back to the Church and others who would like to complete their initiation but have not been in a structured formation program since second grade.
After some discernment and the blessings of the Parish Pastoral Council, we are ready to roll out what we think will benefit all Adult/ Young Adult Catholics and those seeking the faith. The program is called “Growing Faith Project” It was developed by Bill Huebsch; expert on Adult formation and whole community catechesis. The program is set up in 48 topical sessions, some include: “Inborn hunger for God, The reality of Sin and Grace, The Mystery of the Church, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, the commandments, prayer and many more. Each session stands on its own which means you don’t have to commit to come every week, and you don’t even have to start at the beginning. Each week will consist of snacks, prayer and praise, breaking open the word, topical session, sharing and closing prayer.
Sessions will be held Monday evenings beginning February 8th, from 6:30-8:30PM in a classroom at St Stephen. If we have enough interest, we would be open to having a morning session (the day is negotiable). IF you would like to join us or have more questions, please call Lucy at 810-985-5212 and register. This will help us with ordering supplies and food for the first session.
Keep movin in the Spirit!!!!!
Peace be with you! Because we have had several wonderful events leading up to this weekend
Family Adoration on Relationship (on Wednesday) and the Marriage Preparation Seminar (Friday and Saturday) I would like to share a story with you from the student workbook Theology of the Body. Our middle school kids will begin their studies on TOB this coming week. This important work of Saint John Paul the II is a guide on Discovering God’s Plan for Love and Life!
I’d like to dedicate it to our teens (who are just beginning to learn about true love) and to our engaged and soon to be married couples in the parish. God bless you all with the LOVE of Christ.
The day Aimee and I got married was the best day of my life. I know people always say that, but this really was. At 8:30 a.m., my best friend Greg, woke me up at the hotel where we were staying. I jumped up, excited to put on my tuxedo. With my red hair and scruffy beard I ended up looking like a cross between James Bond and a leprechaun.
But I had way too much nervous energy just to hang out at the hotel. I asked Greg to drive me to the Eucharistic Adoration chapel where I had proposed to my future wife nine months before. There I knelt down, had a good heart-to-heart chat with God, and tried to prepare for the big moment. Every minute seemed like ten. I could hardly wait! I paced. I prayed. I waited….and waited. Finally guests arrived and I headed to my position and watched as people filled the church. Before I knew it, I was standing next to Greg as music played and bridesmaids started strolling down the aisle.
THEN – a burst of light! The heavy church door opened and my beautiful bride made her entrance on her father’s arm. With every step they took down the aisle, my heart beat faster until she was finally only two feet away. Her father reached out to shake my hand, but then he stopped. Instead of the traditional short handshake, he put something cool and metallic in the palm of my hand and began to speak.
“There once was a husband who loved his bride so much that he would do anything for her. Anything.” I knew his words were intense and serious, but they didn’t register at first. When he let go of my hand, I looked down to see the object he had placed in my palm.
It was a small silver crucifix! Suddenly I understood. The husband was Jesus, the bride was the Church, and He had done not only anything but everything, for her.
He gave His life in love. And this was the same reason I stood at the altar that day, to lay down my life in love for my bride. What an awesome call to be like Christ to the person I love most…… awesome and holy!
Written by: Colin MacIver and taken from Theology of the Body for Teens.
God bless your week with the love of Christ the Bridegroom!
Karen Clor – DRE
Port Huron, Mich. – For the seventh year, Blue Water Pax Christi, a Catholic peace and justice organization, has purchased one billboard in Port Huron to remind residents and visitors to keep non-violence in their lives during the Christmas season and the New Year.
Beginning December 23, 2015, the billboard will be displayed for one month. It is above the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce building, on McMorran Boulevard in downtown Port Huron.
The black and white artwork includes recognizable photos of the late Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, M.C., more commonly known as Mother Teresa, and martyred U.S. civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but does not identify them by name.
“The wording says ‘Choose Nonviolence. Christmas Invites the Merciful …and …The Just,’” said Mike McCarthy, a leader of Blue Water Pax Christi. McCarthy has been spearheading this outdoor advertising program since 2008, when it began. He originated the idea, worked with Lamar Advertising of Freeland, Michigan on the design, raised the money from local sources and chose the location of the billboard.
According to McCarthy, Blue Water Pax Christi is the only known local Pax Christi affiliate to use paid billboards to reach people of all faiths with a peace message.
“Some may think this billboard is part of a ‘public service campaign,’” he noted. “We pay the costs like any advertiser because we feel the message needs to be out there.
“For weeks, consumers are bombarded with commercial messages about the secular part of Christmas,” McCarthy said. “Our Pax Christi group believes we need to be mindful of Christ’s teachings about non-violence at this time of the year.”
This year, the billboard expenses were contributed by the Knights of Columbus chapters from Holy Trinity and St. Mary Parishes, both of Port Huron, the Christian Service Commission of Holy Trinity Parish, and individual members of Blue Water Pax Christi.
Listed along the bottom of the billboard is the Season for Non-Violence and Pax Christi USA, national groups working to promote peace, for anyone who wants to explore ways to adopt non-violence to resolve conflicts.
The message of the billboard directly supports the 2016 Catholic “Year of Mercy,” as proclaimed by Pope Francis. The year-long observance, or Jubilee, is “a privileged moment so that the Church may learn to choose only that which pleases God most: forgiveness and mercy,” the Catholic leader said.
About Pax Christi
Blue Water Pax Christi, is part of Pax Christi International, a nonprofit, non-governmental peace movement working on a global scale on a wide variety of issues in the fields of human rights, human security, disarmament, demilitarization, just world order, religion and violent conflict. In Port Huron, Blue Water Pax Christi is a group of like-minded individuals from all walks of life who share their vision for a non-violent world through prayer, good works, education and discussion.