May the Lord give you peace!

In chapter 9 of Gaudete et Exaltate, Pope Francis highlights the face of the Catholic Church. This is a challenging paragraph. Pope Francis states that “the most attractive face of the Church” is holiness. Well, holiness is in crisis! The face of the Catholic Church has not appeared very beautiful for the last year or so. In 2002, we had the Priest Abuse Crisis. In 2018 and continuing to this day, we have another abuse crisis, namely, the cover-up of abuse within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. The perception of the Catholic Church right now is not very positive. In fact, the face of the Catholic Church is very disfigured. The faithful are angered, sorrowful and grieving over the loss of the beauty of the Church’s face. Bishop Kemme referred to this tragedy several weeks ago at the Rite of Election at the Cathedral.

How do we go forward? Without denying the crisis but also confronting it, we can hold fast to the witness of those saints who have gone before us. Pope Francis reminds us of St. John Paul II’s reference to “a heritage which speaks more powerfully than all the causes of division.” The heritage referenced to is the “witness to Christ borne even to the shedding of blood that has become a common inheritance of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants.” Personally, I have found the witness of the saints as a powerful motivation to continue striving for the “next level” – you may have heard me use that term once or twice.

In regards to those who have given up their lives for Christ, we have no need to go any further than Pilsen, Kansas. You know where I am going with this... Fr. Emil Kapaun. Day in and day out he sacrificed himself and his comforts for the sake of the soldiers, even until his dying breath.

I have seen Fr. Kapaun’s witness do powerful things in the lives of some of our parishioners. About a month ago, Fr. Matt and I attended a dinner for Kapaun’s Men and their wives. I am so moved at how these parishioners are striving to take it to the “next level.” Their striving is inspired by the life and example of Fr. Kapaun. In other words, the “heritage” of Fr. Kapaun’s life offers a beautiful picture of the Church’s face, namely, the face of holiness. Moreover, this picture of holiness can be inspiring, as with Kapaun’s Men and their wives, even in the midst of these dark times within the Catholic Church.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Fr. John F. Jirak

In paragraph 7 of Rejoice and Be Glad, Pope Francis writes that he likes to “contemplate the holiness in the patience of God’s people.” When the Pope uses the word contemplate he is not referring to the deep mystical prayer expounded on in the writings of St. John of the Cross or Teresa of Avila. Neither is he using the word contemplation in the sense that St. Ignatius writes about in his Spiritual Exercises, i.e., imaginative prayer. When the Pope uses the word contemplate in this context, he merely means “to think about.” In other words, he likes to think about the holiness that is manifest in God’s people through their patience.

I want to highlight an implied point of this paragraph, namely, Pope Francis is affirming the value of a more leisurely pace to life. When someone thinks about the patience of others, they are taking a reflective approach to life. Maybe we could say that the Pope likes to “people watch.” People watching is contemplating people. It is seeing the outside of the person, the skin, but much more importantly, people watching is seeing beneath the skin and into the soul of the other. To contemplate “the elderly religious who never lose their smile” is to notice something spiritual in the other. This contemplating and looking into the soul of another to see “patience” is beyond the power of an animal. The parish dog, Daisy, loves to sit and stare at me when I’m hanging out at the rectory. She sees my body, she may even know a few things about me instinctively; however, she could never contemplate my patience (and that’s not because there is never any patience to contemplate).

In Bishop Kemme’s pastoral plan for the Diocese of Wichita, he includes one of his three priorities as “Reclaiming Sunday.” The purpose of reclaiming Sunday is not merely to get everyone to Mass. A major part of reclaiming Sunday is slowing down enough to “contemplate.” It includes slowing down to see the soul of another, to see another’s patience, another’s kindness, another’s long-suffering, another’s generosity.

When we contemplate the soul of another, we are inspired, we are drawn and attracted to a fuller life. This ultimately leads to Bishop Kemme’s overall vision for the Diocese, to be Fully Alive as disciples of Jesus.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor

Fridays are for the Priests! 


Blessed at Church of the Magdalen Catholic School to have 3 priests to visit all the classrooms each week. Today, the First Graders got to learn about the real meaning of "Alleluia" from our Pastor, Father Jirak.

Also: Impressive how much these children know about their Catholic Faith. An incredible witness to our parents and teachers. Have a watch

 

 

 

 

May the Lord give you peace!

Happy New Year! Yes, the new church year has begun. We refer to the church year as the liturgical year as compared to the calendar year which begins on January 1st. The First Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year—that is today!

The Advent season is a sacred time to grow in our friendship with Jesus. The Advent liturgies and devotions invite us more intimately into the eternal life of God who became man. This Advent at Church of the Magdalen we will also incorporate some valued options into our worship at Mass. The most prominent addition is the inclusion of some traditional Latin acclamations and prayers. We will sing together a certain response during the Eucharistic prayer in the traditional Gregorian Latin chant. These chants will include the Holy, Holy, Holy; Mystery of Faith and Lamb of God. In Latin: the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus; Mysterium Fidei and Agnus Dei.

I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the rationales behind including the various Mass parts in Latin—on a side note Bishop McKnight incorporated these traditional chants shortly before I arrived on the scene last February 2018.

Catholic liturgical worship started being celebrated in Latin around the third and fourth century (the earliest liturgies were celebrated in Greek). Since then the lingua franca of the Roman Catholic Church has been Latin up to modern times. Up until recently all priests even took their theology and philosophy courses in Latin. The broad use of Latin within the Roman Catholic Church was somewhat diminished in light of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The Council introduced and promoted greater use of the vernacular into worship. It was in view of the Council that parishes began worshiping in English along with the priest facing the people during the Eucharistic prayer. Nonetheless, the Council actually declared that the vernacular, e.g., English, should be used only as an exception. The relevant passage comes from the Council’s dogmatic constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 36, Paragraph 1: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rite, except where a particular law might indicate otherwise.” The Council’s watershed document on the liturgy continues in paragraph 54: “that in Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue... Nevertheless, steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

The tradition over the past forty years has somewhat reversed the direction decreed in the Council’s document on the liturgy. Our experience has been to incorporate Latin in the liturgy as an exception and to establish English as the norm. In many ways, the broad interpretation of the conciliar norm to allow for the use of the vernacular has introduced many benefits to the celebration of the Mass. A major benefit is the ease of worshiping in our native English language. 

On the other hand, one major drawback to the exclusive use of the vernacular within the Mass has resulted in the near-complete disuse of Latin. Our effort to include some Latin prayers and acclamations into the Mass is not to return to some ideal time in the past; rather, it is to grow in continuity with the Church’s rich tradition. The inclusion of several Latin responses is one way that we carry out the stewardship of Tradition. In other words, we pass on and stay connected to how God has worked in the past, not at the expense of what God is doing now or will do in the future, but in order to stay in continuity with a Tradition that is alive and including the present and future. 

A new Mass worship aid with the relevant Latin Mass response will be available in the pews. We will also make available a lexicon of the various Latin responses for those of you who want to know exactly what you are saying through your chanting. 

Ad majorem Dei gloriam (For the greater glory of God),

Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more" (Rv 21:1). This is the last week of the liturgical year. The old year is passing away, Advent, which begins next Sunday, is a new Church year. Today on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, we celebrate being subjects of God's Holy Kingdom, the Church. We also look forward to when Christ's Kingdom will be fulfilled at His second coming. Along with the entire Communion of Saints and the Heavenly Host, we worship Jesus, our King.

In our world, our leaders are fallible, leading us to either success or failure. In our world, sin prevails. In our world, there is sickness, sadness, war poverty, and death. But "the world in its present form is passing away" (1 Cor 7:31). Each time we say the Our Father, we ask God to bring about His new heaven and earth; we pray: "Thy kingdom come." In this Kingdom, Christ will be our perfect king. He will lead us with absolute wisdom, justice, and love. In this Kingdom, sin will be no more and death itself will die (1 Cor 15:26). "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, the old order has passed away" (Rv 21:4). In this new world: "the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Is 65:17). Our Kingdom to come will be eternal: "His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed" (Dn 7:14).

On this day and always, remember that you are heirs of the perfect Kingdom of God: princes and princesses of the everlasting Kingdom. "The Lord is our king" (Is33:22)!

We are social creatures, we are meant to be with and around others. What is sometimes hard to remember is that we are not meant to tear each other down. This includes having a certain amount of judgment on and/or expectation of another. When we do not establish an understanding of these things we can find ourselves slipping into the sin of gossip. I believe that if we look, we can see that gossip is fundamentally made up of a certain amount of pride. Right? To feed our own need for power or control in a relationship, there can be the want to speak ill of another. Maye, this only occurs when we are with a group of friends. Maybe, this only happens when we are wanting to vent to someone. In any case, to tear someone down to make our own selves feel better is sinful.

But, how do we find a way or make a plan so that we do not continue to fall into this sin of gossip again? In one word, charity. Sometimes to get past our own pride of self, we have to turn to service of another. If we think about it, we do have power, but the power should be used to change the subject, not to condone hurting another-to recognize our temptation to gossip and instead have a certain barrier set up in the future.

This could take the shape of a kind word or prayer for this person that we would like to talk about. It could also be that we need to do an extra action that we have never done for this person before, like getting them a water, a coffee or a donut. Basically, anything that we know is done for a reason to get us past where we have fallen before, helping us to build those good habits and virtues where before we turned to vice. Sometimes to see the power of God in our lives, we actually have to surrender a false power like gossip first. 

 

We all experience knots in our lives—the problems and struggles that keep us awake at night. We worry because we don’t see any solutions. Mothers especially worry continuously about their children, no matter their age. Picture your worries as knots, trailing down a long ribbon. Now picture Mary, our most blessed Mother, patiently untying your knots.

An unknown artist painted Mary Undoer of Knots, a painting of Mary surrounded by angels. She is untying one of many knots in a long white ribbon. It is believed the painter was inspired by a meditation from St. Irenaeus paralleling Eve and Mary: “Eve by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it.” Since 1700, Mary Undoer of Knots hangs over a family altar in the Church of St. Peter in Perlack, Germany. This painting has miraculously survived wars and revolutions. In the 1980s, Pope Francis saw the painting, and it had a profound impact on his devotional life. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he introduced and encouraged this devotion.

This summer Fr. Matt gave me a prayer card “O Immaculate Lady Undoer of Knots.” As soon as I read the prayer, I understood why Pope Francis encouraged this devotion. I had just started a new job (after being retired for 19 years) and my youngest child was leaving for college. I had a few knots waking me up at night! Asking Mary to take various knots plaguing my mind into her maternal hands has provided me much peace, and this prayer now belongs in my nightly prayer ritual. On the nights when my worries are light, I pray for others’ knots to be untied.

If you’d like to read this prayer and possibly add it to your prayer repertoire, Google “Undoer of Knots” or better yet, stop in one of the confessionals and look for the prayer card!

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was born as Maria Francesca Cabrini on July 15, 1850, in Italy. At a very young age, Frances longed to be a missionary in China and dedicated her life to religious work. At age 18, she was asked by a priest to teach at an orphanage in Italy where she began a life of charitable work caring for the poor, sick and uneducated all while educating those she cared for to live the religious way of life.

In 1877, she made her religious vows and came to be known as Mother Cabrini. It was at this time she also added Xavier to her name to honor St. Francis Xavier. Unfortunately, a few years after making her vows, the orphanage was closed. Mother Cabrini yearned to continue her mission work in China but was urged by Pope Leo XIII to travel to New York to care for the thousands of Italian immigrants living there. This journey would prove to be very disappointing and difficult for Frances. She planned to open an orphanage upon her arrival to the United States, only to find the house was no longer available. Frances was fearless and noble. Filled with her deep trust in God, she remained in New York.

The result of her deep trust? Over 35 years, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini established 67 institutions across the United States. She was compassionate and dedicated to caring for immigrants, the poor, ill, uneducated, and those who were losing their faith. In 1909, Frances became a naturalized citizen of the United States and in December of 1917, passed away in one of her own Chicago hospitals. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was beatified on November 13, 1938, by Pope Pius XI and canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 7, 1946, the first US citizen to be canonized. She is the patron saint of immigrants and hospital administrators. 

St. Pope John Paul II taught about “the law of the gift” in his book Love and Responsibility (as well as in other writings, addresses, and especially by the example of his life). The crux is this: the more we empty ourselves in self-giving love to one another, the more we’re filled with God’s love. It’s yet another paradox; how can we be empty and yet full? Today’s first reading and Gospel can help us understand. They tell us of widows who trusted God and gave Him everything they had. They couldn’t have known, but they were imitating Christ Himself, the exemplar of self-giving love: “…he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7).

Our instincts tell us to fill ourselves in our own needs: with food, entertainment, savings, etc. But the law of the gift says that we find the greatest joy when we seek to fill others’ needs. In order to give love to others, we must be filled with God’s love. Start by allowing God to nourish you with the sacraments and prayer. Then you can begin to pour that love out to others.

When you’re exhausted and your child or spouse needs your help, and you reach deep into that holy spring of God’s love to give them what they need, you empty yourself. When your schedule is overwhelming and you feel you have no time to spare, but you make time each week for your adoration hour, you empty yourself. When your grocery budget is getting close to spent, but you spend what little is there to make extra portions of your own dinner to take a meal to someone in need, you empty yourself.

Dear Jesus, fill me with Your precious love so I can pour it out to others. Help me empty myself so I can be more like You.

St. Pope John Paul II taught about “the law of the gift” in his book Love and Responsibility (as well as in other writings, addresses, and especially by the example of his life). The crux is this: the more we empty ourselves in self-giving love to one another, the more we’re filled with God’s love. It’s yet another paradox; how can we be empty and yet full? Today’s first reading and Gospel can help us understand. They tell us of widows who trusted God and gave Him everything they had. They couldn’t have known, but they were imitating Christ Himself, the exemplar of self-giving love: “…he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7).

Our instincts tell us to fill ourselves in our own needs: with food, entertainment, savings, etc. But the law of the gift says that we find the greatest joy when we seek to fill others’ needs. In order to give love to others, we must be filled with God’s love. Start by allowing God to nourish you with the sacraments and prayer. Then you can begin to pour that love out to others.

When you’re exhausted and your child or spouse needs your help, and you reach deep into that holy spring of God’s love to give them what they need, you empty yourself. When your schedule is overwhelming and you feel you have no time to spare, but you make time each week for your adoration hour, you empty yourself. When your grocery budget is getting close to spent, but you spend what little is there to make extra portions of your own dinner to take a meal to someone in need, you empty yourself.

Dear Jesus, fill me with Your precious love so I can pour it out to others. Help me empty myself so I can be more like You.

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