It’s Personal

True love is experienced at a personal level. We understand the love we receive and  the love we give, to our spouses, our children, our families and even our friends.

For many Catholics, the love of God is also personal as we strive to answer his unique call to each of us. Answering God’s call challenges us to extend love outward as far as we possibly can; beyond the people and cause we know.

Many people make regular and significant sacrifices for those they love, such as deferring “things” to save for a child’s education or leaving a career to care for an aging parent. Others spread love outward through mission trips and community service.

Through all of these acts, and many more, Catholics are answering God’s commandment to “Love one another.”

As we continue our focus on Loving without Limits, think about what you bring to your parish and to the world around you. What are you doing to impact your faith community?

Think about who you love and why. How can you extend this love to others in your life? 

Think about your place in the world and how you can make a difference…through love.

Share your thoughts with us.

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Lord, What is it I Need to Hear Today?

This last weekend, I had the opportunity to take a two hour journey by car, all by myself. A blessed two hours of solitude to enjoy the sun, the burgeoning autumn colors, and the radio.

Once the radio station I was listening to started filling with static, I switched to Relevant Radio. I am so glad I did because I stumbled upon Matthew Kelly! If you have never had the pleasure of listening to or reading anything by Matthew Kelly, you’ve been missing out. Dare I say he is a modern day prophet?

I caught a portion of his presentation on the seven pillars of Catholicism. He shared a beautiful story that allows our human minds the opportunity to comprehend the significance of the Mass from God’s perspective. It was a really cool story. What I liked even more was how he encouraged the audience, myself included, to go into Mass asking God this question, “Lord, what is it that I need to hear today in order to be the best version of myself this week?” Since I had not yet been to Mass, I thought to myself that I would give it a try.

I entered Mass thinking the Matthew Kelly question and allowed myself to be open to every word said and sung. Low and behold, there it was! The nugget that hit me right where God needed me to pay attention – the second reading from Philippians 4: 6-9:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

God knew what was on my heart and in my head. He knows I always worry about whether or not I am being the best mother, wife, teacher, leader, and servant He has created me to be. Now you can see how glorious this moment was for me. If you are going to Mass passively, try going in with the Matthew Kelly question. I’d love to learn if it worked for you the way it worked for me.

 

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

 

Preparing Your “Home” for Jesus

The Eucharist is the source and summit of all that we do and all that we are as Catholics. Proper reverence for and reception of the Eucharist are essential to our formation from little on. Eucharist completes Christian initiation.

It is important to remember that “The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsists. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ,“(CCC#1377) hence, the significant role we play in the Body of Christ.

Upon reception of the Eucharist, Christ is truly with us and never leaves. Reception of the Eucharist should then be done without, in my own words, internal complication. As I explain to the students, when we are expecting company, we make our homes cleaner than usual and prepare an environment that is out of the ordinary to make our guests feel special. Preparation for the Eucharist should be just like that, making our “homes” cleaner than usual and preparing an environment to make Jesus feel special. Fasting allows for that to happen. Reconciliation allows for that to happen. It puts Eucharist in its proper perspective – “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) gives us clear directions for how to prepare our “homes” for Jesus in the Eucharist.

To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest” (#1387).

There is something to be said about mindfulness and intentionality here. The common practice for the fast is one hour prior to Holy Communion.

 

 

Jill Fischer in the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

Loving Our God and Our Neighbor

Catholics are familiar with the two greatest commandments, to love God with all of our minds, our hearts and our souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

As we begin to think and pray about sharing our gifts with our parish community, it is important that we first contemplate what “loving our God and our neighbor” really means.

Pope Francis speaks about love of God and neighbor not in abstract terms, but in words that are a call to action.

“Let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to one another, to promote unity, and to live in harmony as members of the one Body of Christ, inspired by the gift of love.” -Pope Francis

Take some time to reflect on these words and think about how you can truly love without limits. How has God’s love touched your life? How have you returned the love to God? How have you extended the love to others?

SHARE THE LOVE

Share your acts of love with us!

Take a photo or a short video clip and show us how you Love Without Limits. Send them to website@stdominic.net. Don’t forget to include a sentence describing what you do.

We will be sharing these in our print and digital publications.

By submitting your photo/video you are agreeing to their use and publication.

Please contact Meg Picciolo at 262.781.3480 x248 or meg.picciolo@stdominic.net with any questions.

This month, theROCK is focused on Loving without Limits.

Are You Listening to God?

As we end the month of September and our Focus on Listening, we reflect on the words of Fr. Kilian J. Healy and his book “Awakening Your Soul to Presence of God.”

“It’s one thing to search for God and another thing to listen to Him once we have found Him. Many people never listen to God because they are not aware the He speaks to them.

Yet God does speak.

When does God speak to us? He speaks at all times, especially in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God. But it is not a monologue. When we pray, then, we should also listen, because a good conversationalist is also a good listener. We do not pray well when we recite ready-made formulas quickly and distractedly.

We act as if God should only to listen to us, and that we have no need to listen to the thoughts and desires He wishes to for us.

Day by day, we must progress, seeing the hand of God in all things, being aware that He speaks to us and manifests His will in the joys, sorrows and circumstances of our daily life.”

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Jose. Earthquakes in Mexico.

I often get the inevitable question, “If God loves us so much, why do these bad things happen?” That question is a hard one to answer, but please allow me the opportunity to try.

First, these are all natural disasters. The earth, by its nature and in its orbit, undergoes change in and of itself. As people populate the planet, we can  also get in the way of the earth’s natural processes, which may have consequences, such as we are witnessing.

We are called to care for our creation as indicated in Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si. .

Second, God loves us very much. He wants to protect us. God also inspires His creation to advance technologies to improve the state of the human race, in order to prevent too much loss when natural disasters happen.

That being said, God works through people. People who have been given free will. Freedom to choose good and not so good. Freedom to be in relationship with God to do His will or freedom to reject Him.

When tragedy arises, we are called to put our faith into action. That is the good. Out of tragedy is born opportunity to be the hands of Jesus where, in most cases, it might be difficult to see Him. God’s hand to you is grace. Your hand to God is faith.

There are many opportunities to extend support to our brothers and sisters in need who have been affected by these natural disasters. We have been encouraged to work through Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services when offering support. Also, allow your prayers to provide the support needed when you can’t be the feet on the ground. Mary, Patroness of the Americas and Queen of Peace, pray for us.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

 

The Voice of God

I am always amazed to hear people say “God spoke to me.”

Did God literally speak to them? What did his voice sound like? Did they actually hear something?

While I think we would all love to hear the voice of God, many of us have not had this opportunity. That doesn’t mean that God is not communicating with us.

God speaks to us in a variety of ways.

Think about the time someone came up to you with the perfect words when you needed a friendly voice.

God was speaking to you.

Or think about the comforting words of friends and family when you’re in pain and hurting—both emotional and physically.

God was speaking to you.

Think about a day at work when you need help managing a complex and stressful situation. Suddenly the words come out of your mouth and you handle the circumstances in the perfect way.

God was speaking to you…and through you.

It is not a coincidence that the right words at the right times magically appear to help you through your day. God has found unique ways to let us know that he is with us, all of the time, watching everything that we do. He also speaks to us in ways we can never understand—through emotions, through intuition, through personal observations and feelings.

So don’t wait for the booming voice from the clouds. Don’t look for a Hollywood burning bush or bolt of lightning.

All we need to do is listen to others around us…and listen to our heart. We will then hear the voice of God.

Are you ready to listen?

Share your thoughts with us. How has God spoken to you?

God is Good

I have the pleasure to visit a home away from home “up north” frequently throughout the year thanks to my husband’s family. Labor Day weekend is always a guaranteed trip “up north” – guaranteed for 12 people. Twelve people existing for three nights and three days in a three bedroom mobile home on an acre of woods.

As you can imagine, interesting things are bound to take place and they usually do. That is part of the joy of going “up north.”

This Labor Day was no different. But for some reason, this weekend everything was hitting me wrong. I found myself annoyed by things that don’t normally annoy me. I was on edge much of the day on Saturday, which could have been the lack of escape that a rainy day creates. In going to Mass on Sunday morning, I did so carrying the annoyance with me. At Mass, I laid it down before the altar. Now, if you haven’t ever approached the Mass in this way, you are missing the beauty the Mass can hold. The Mass can start to speak to you right where you need it to.

Everything about this Mass celebration spoke to unburdening yourself to God. It was so amazing that I nearly cried. I wanted to cry because I felt such consolation and relief, as well as God’s overwhelming love for me in such a way that I could go back to that mobile home and be a better version of myself for the people around me.

Every day is labor day for our Lord. He labors tirelessly for us and with us and through us. He does so out of great and overwhelming love for us. We often forget that He is there but it was times like the one I experienced this weekend that brings it right back home for me.

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. We are certainly worthy of His love but are we ever really worthy of Him?

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

 

Jill Fischer is the Principal of St. Dominic Catholic School.

 

Focus on Listening

People spend between 70 – 80% of their day engaged in some form of communication. The average person speaks between 125 – 175 words per minute. That’s a lot of sentences flying around us every single day.

While your ears are able to pick up a lot of words, your brain doesn’t always process all of the words spoken to you. In fact, most people only remember about 17 – 25% of things that they hear.

How strong of a listener are you? Are you paying attention in your conversations? Do you truly engage in a back and forth dialogue, or are you simply waiting for your turn to talk?

And what about when God talks to you? Are you hearing AND listening to His words?

For the month of September, theROCK is Focused on Listening. We’ll discover ways that you can become a better listener, and in turn, a better communicator. We’ll also look at ways you can grow in your faith simply by learning to listen.

Can you hear me now? Good, let’s get started.

 Give yourself a grade. How good of a listener are you? Be honest. Think about what you’d like to change. Share your thoughts with us.

Change Happens

Change.

Even the sound of the word can leave certain people uptight. We like the status quo. We don’t want to upset our routines. We’re worried that we’ll lose control.

Change happens. It happens to all of us.

While we are often most concerned with negative change in our lives, even positive change can cause great anxiety. Think about how you feel when you start a new job…a job you really wanted.

What can you do to handle change?

As we close out the month of August and our Focus on Change, we reflect on three simple steps to help us all handle change.

Embrace Life.

Experts will tell you that first lesson in embracing change is to learn to embrace your life. If you’re constantly fighting all of the little changes in your life, you will never be able to handle the big changes.

Embrace God.

Embracing life starts with embracing God. Talk to God. Ask him what he has in store for you. Discuss what you need to do to really get the most out of every day. Then listen to His answers. He’ll speak to you in a variety of ways: in your thoughts, through others, and special daily experiences.

Trust God.

If God is leading you down a path, walk proudly down that path. Don’t fight it. Don’t be afraid to try new things. God is molding and shaping you into the person you need to become. That can only happen if you have an open mind about change.

What we may originally perceive as unpleasant change can quickly become a moment of grace that transforms us into the person we are meant to be.

How do you handle change? Share your thoughts with us.