In Christian charity we are called to be careful… by Bishop Paul J. Swain

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BishopSwainby Bishop Paul J. Swain – (5/31/2015 Bishop’s Bulletin)

Core to who we are as Catholics is to recognize the inherent dignity of all persons gifted by God with life which is reflected in how we respect and relate to one another certainly in deed, but also in word. Words can be used to build up and support the common good or to tear down and divide.

When I was growing up a common saying was “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.” I defensively declared that when I was made fun of and called “four eyes” for having to wear glasses, “a shrimp” for being so short, or “a loser” because my parents had divorced. The fact is that denigrating words do hurt and often last longer than physical wounds that heal over time.

The incivility we see in politics and personal relationships, including bullying, can be attributed to hurtful words intentionally spoken to strike at another and demean him or her. Differences of opinion are natural and worthy of discussion. Greater insight and even wisdom can be revealed through robust debate undertaken with respect for one another based on truth and fullness of knowledge.

Much of the information we receive these days comes in short oral sound bites or brief headlines or strophe limited text messages that can only partially convey the fullness of that information. Often the incompleteness of the words leads to misjudgments and judgmentalism that can lead to disrespect based on untruth or inadequate knowledge.

Therefore in Christian charity we are called to be careful in how we receive and interpret information especially about individuals and what we share with others. We do not always need to know what we would like to know, nor do we need to share what we know with others who have no need to know.

Pope Francis regularly speaks of the responsibility to avoid gossip and to be respectful of the dignity of all persons in the words we choose to speak because gossip and rumors are works of the evil one and divide the Body of Christ. There is an old saying that someone who gossips to you will gossip about you.

The Eighth Commandment declares that we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches what that means in concrete situations:

To read the entire article, go HERE.

Father Kevin’s Reflection – May 31, 2015 – The Most Holy Trinity

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Holy_Trinity-stainedglassThe God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the one, only, living and true God, and He gradually revealed himself to Abraham and his descendants in order to make of them a chosen people. Through Moses, God gave to the children of Israel the high privilege and sacred duty of announcing to all the nations that there is but one God — “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6.4) The gradual revelation of the truth about the living God reached its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus, true God and true man, and it is Christ who completed the self-disclosure of the one God by revealing Him in his unity to be a communion of three divine Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the mystery of the Holy Trinity in this way:

“Christians are baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; not in their names, for there is only one God, the almighty Father, His only Son, and the Holy Spirit: the Most Holy Trinity.

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in Himself. It is therefore the source of all other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of truths of faith. The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals Himself to men and reconciles and unites with Himself those who turn away from him.

“The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God. To be sure, God has left traces of His Trinitarian being in His work of creation and in His Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But His inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 233, 234, and 237)

This Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity always falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, drawing the gaze of our contemplation to the mystery of God in Himself at the conclusion of Eastertide.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Father Kevin’s Reflection – May 24, 2015 – Pentecost

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PentecostThe Jewish feast of Passover commemorates the deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, and from that day of liberation, Moses led the people to the holy mountain where he had seen the living God in the bush which burned without being consumed. There on Mount Horeb Moses received the Ten Commandments from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and although Scripture does not specify the time between Passover and the giving of the Law, an ancient tradition holds that it was fifty days. Then in Leviticus (23:15-16), …the LORD commands the children of Israel to offer a sacrifice of spring wheat exactly seven full weeks from the second day of Passover, meaning the fiftieth day (on Pentecost) from the feast of Passover. So, the Feast of First Fruits, also called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew), was kept 50 days after Passover and was a time of great thanksgiving to God for the blessings of freedom and prosperity and for the Law which safeguarded those blessings. This festival was also called Pentecost from the Greek words…meaning the fiftieth day.

Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles opens with a mention of the arrival of the day of Pentecost, and this refers, of course, to the Jewish festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. Because of the feast, Jerusalem was filled with Jews visiting from all over the Mediterranean world, and it was to this multitude that St. Peter preached the Gospel, leading to the conversion of 3,000 people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. The power of Peter’s preaching came not from him but from God the Holy Spirit who was poured out upon the Church on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, thus making Pentecost a festival for both Jews and Christians. To this day, observant Jews celebrate Shavuot in gratitude for the gift of Torah, and Christians celebrate Pentecost in thanksgiving for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the new life of grace which comes by saving faith in Jesus Christ, our Passover and our Peace. In this concurrence we see fulfilled the teaching of St. Paul (Colossians 2.16-17) that the feasts of the Old Covenant are shadows of the good things which come to us in Jesus Christ, to whom all the types and figures of Israel point.

The coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in Jerusalem led to the miracle of one voice being heard in many languages, an event which is both a symbolic reversal of the scattering of the human race as a result of the pride which built the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11.1-9) and a pledge of the Church’s mission to gather all nations into the unity of those who worship the one, only, living and true God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, repenting of sin, being baptized, and living as a new creation in Christ’s body, the Church. The events of Pentecost fulfilled the promise of the Lord Jesus to his Apostles: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8), and so Pentecost also began the tireless effort of the Church to fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations. Two millennia later, our contribution to that work of grace is to live as Evangelical Catholics who share the Gospel with others and lead them to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Be Merciful as the Father is Merciful by Bishop Paul J. Swain

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BishopSwainby Bishop Paul J. Swain – (5/1/2015 Bishop’s Bulletin)

In 1989 historian Robert F. Karolevitz wrote a book entitled “With Faith, Hope and Tenacity: the First One Hundred Years of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.” Each chapter was given an enticing title such as ‘Black Robes in the Vanguard,’ ‘In Habits of Black, Gray, Brown, White – and Calico,’ and ‘the Tinsel Twenties and Terrible Thirties”.

He explained his mission with these words: “This is the story of a hardy and devoted people, many of them bringing Old Country religious traditions and values to the prairies of South Dakota as they overcame disheartening obstacles and persevered in their Faith even when they had no priests to serve them. Fires, tornadoes, drought and depression seemed to strengthen struggling parishes at times, but occasionally the forces of nature or the decisions of men caused villages to disappear and their tiny churches to close.

“With the trials came the triumphs, however, as clergy and laity in tandem provided places of worship and education. Sisters of various orders staffed the schools and extended their service to the care of orphans, the sick and the elderly. As might be expected in any human endeavor, there were a few rascals and recalcitrant – not to mention an occasional feud – but these, too, were tempering, faith-testing elements which cannot be overlooked in a true historical chronicle purporting to tell the full story.”

The author ended his history lesson with the words: “To be continued.” And it has with the same “Faith, Hope and Tenacity.”

Our faith is in Jesus Christ crucified and risen which is lived in the Church Christ instituted, strengthened by the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and guided by Tradition and the Magisterium. Our hope is in eternal life inspired by the saints, nurtured by prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit. Tenacity is a lesser theological term, yet essential for living as disciples in an often hostile environment which is true in all times. The persecution of Christians around the world today is ample evidence of the need for tenacity. The dictionary defines tenacity as: stubbornness, resolve, firmness, persistence, doggedness, drive, determination, and steadfastness.

To be tenacious in a healthy, life-giving and loving way requires the bedrocks of faith and hope, and the personal qualities of humility and forgiveness. Humility allows us to recognize our need for God and to trust Him even when we wonder. Forgiveness reminds us that we are all sinners and that all of us are in need of God’s mercy.

To read the entire article, go HERE.

Father Kevin’s Reflection – May 17, 2015 – The Ascension of the Lord

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The Amish (a community formed in the 17th century by a schism within the Mennonite movement in Switzerland) are famous for their radical separation from the world: they will not use modern technology, they dress differently from their neighbors, they cease formal schooling after the 8th grade, they refuse to serve in the armed forces, they will not participate in Social Security or purchase medical insurance, and so forth. These behaviors are regarded as odd by most people, and with good reason: Such a way of life is not required by the Gospel, and in many ways it is contrary to the Gospel. And that is why Catholics cannot live like the Amish.

We do not dress differently than our neighbors. We do not fear technology or the benefits of modern science. We do not separate ourselves in politics, commerce, military service, or civic responsibility from those who do not share our faith. And we do not do these things because to do so would make it impossible for us to fulfill the Great Commission as we hear in this week’s Gospel: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (cf. Mark 16) We are called to be salt and light in the world, not to hide behind a barricade for fear that we will be polluted.

The impulse to flee from “the world” is, of course, also a part of Christianity, if by “the world” we mean that part of the created order (starting inside of us) which is in rebellion against God. For this reason, religious life has been with us since Christian antiquity, and all Christians need a deep formation for genuine holiness of life. But that is not the same as the Amish refusal to live in the world, something that Catholics cannot accept as compatible with Christian discipleship.

One of the worst classes I took in theology was Patristic. It is a class seminarians and theologians commonly complain about. It is a combination – theology, history and Church literature class. It isn’t that the information you learn is hard. The importance of the class is found in how the early Christians lived and understood their faith as the apostles, themselves, taught. The Letter to Diognetus is an example (written in the 2nd century):

“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life…With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven…to speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body.”

Are we living as the “soul of the world”?

Mass with Bishop Swain – Woonsocket – June 27, 2015

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Schedule of Events

2:30-4:30 p.m.    Farm Tours / Petting Zoo / Diocesan Exhibits
3:00-3:15 p.m.    Presentation: Life on a Melon Farm (Swenson Family)
3:20-3:35 p.m.    Presentation: Life on a Family Farm (Linke Family)
3:40-3:55 p.m.    Presentation: Life on a Ranch (TBD)
4:30-4:45 p.m.    Blessing of the land, animals, machinery
4:45-6:15 p.m.    Mass with Bishop Swain
6:30 p.m.             Move to St Wilfred Church – Meal / Tours of Church

LEGACY Event Registration Open

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Make sure your family calendar has August 14-16 marked to attend the Legacy of Faith diocesan celebration at the Sioux Falls Arena and Convention Center. Come celebrate with thousands of your fellow Catholics from across eastern South Dakota as we give thanks for the past, celebrate today and look forward to the future.

Catholics have lived in what was to become the Diocese of Sioux Falls dating back to the early French explorers. Next, missionaries, including eventual bishop, Martin Marty, came to serve the Native American and early settler population.

The formal Diocese of Sioux Falls was established on November 12, 1889 by Pope Leo XIII. At that time it included all of South Dakota. The current territory of the diocese, which includes all of South Dakota east of the Missouri River, was established when the Diocese of Lead (now Rapid City) was created in 1904.

Through spiritual and sacramental outreach in parishes and schools across eastern South Dakota, and a commitment to service, the Diocese of Sioux Falls has brought the Gospel to all.

Grateful for the past, celebrating today and sharing our faith into the future, we celebrate a Legacy of Faith – 125 years.

Event Schedule

Friday

  • 8:30 a.m. – In-Service Registration Opens
  • 8:30 a.m. – Exhibit Show Opens
  • 8:30-4:00 p.m. – Children’s Activities (for parents attending in-service)
  • 9:30-3:30 p.m.In-Service Events (Start times vary)
  • 11:00-12:00 p.m. – Mass
  • 12:00-1:30 p.m. – Lunch and Time with Exhibitors
  • 11:00-5:30 p.m.Faith & Business Conference
  • 4:00-7:00 p.m. – General Registration Open
  • 4:00-7:00 p.m. – Reunion Hall Open (Groups such as Search, Koinonia, ME etc.)
  • 7:00-7:30 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies with Parade of Banners – Chris Padgett
  • 7:30-9:30 p.m. – Concert – Matt Maher
  • 9:30 p.m. – Youth Activity
  • 9:30 p.m. – Adult Networking/Reunion Hall Reopened
  • (Schedule subject to change)

Saturday

  • 7:00-9:00 a.m.5K Run/1 mile Fun Run/Walk
  • 7:00 a.m. – Doors & Registration Open
  • 7:00 a.m. – Exhibit Show Open
  • 8:00-5:00 p.m. – Daycare Options Available (See registration/Must pre-register)
  • 8:00-8:45 a.m. – Marian Procession
  • 8:45 a.m. – Special Prelude Music
  • 9:00-10:00 a.m. – Mass – Solemnity of the Assumption
  • 10:00-11:45 a.m. & 1:15-4:30 p.m. – Children’s Activities
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m. – Saturday Keynote (General Session) –Curtis Martin
  • 11:45-1:00 p.m. – Lunch – On your own (on-site options available)
  • 1:00-3:00 p.m.Breakout Sessions #1 & #2
  • 3:00-4:30 p.m. – Saturday Keynote (General Session) – Dr. Scott Hahn
  • 4:45-7:30 p.m. – Adult Festival Event – Craft Beer Tasting
  • 5:30-7:30 p.m. – Family Festival
  • 7:45 p.m. – Entertainment – Ken Davis
  • 9:00 p.m.Chris Padgett
  • 9:15 p.m. – Adoration/Praise & Worship Music
  • (Schedule subject to change)

Sunday

  • 6:30-9:15 a.m. – K.C. Pancake Breakfast
  • 7:00-9:00 a.m.St. John’s Bible Display
  • 9:25-10:30 a.m. – Sunday Keynote – Jennifer Fulwiler
  • 9:00-10:30 a.m. – Alternate Youth Activity (Grades 6 and under)
  • 10:45-11:00 a.m. – Closing Ceremonies/Parade of Banners/K of C Processional
  • 11:00-12:30 p.m. – Celebration of Holy Mass
  • (Schedule subject to change)