“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”
“If we could comprehend all the good things contained in Holy Communion, nothing more would be wanting to content the heart of man. The miser would run no more after his treasures, or the ambitious after glory; each would shake off the dust of the earth, leave the world, and fly away towards heaven.”
—St. John Vianney
In estimated billions of present-day dollars
- Cornelius Vanderbilt ($185, died 1877)
This railroad tycoon’s only large philanthropic gift gave about 1% of his fortune to build Vanderbilt University.
- Henry Ford ($199, died 1947)
This deceased automaker’s name survives on vehicles seen upon every road and junkyard.
- Muammar Gaddafi ($200, died 2011)
This dictator of Libya, after being discovered hiding in a desert culvert, was killed by his people.
- Jakob Fugger “the Rich” ($221, died 1525)
While he lived, this German merchant-financier declared, “The king reigns, but the bank rules!“
- William The Conqueror ($229, died 1087)
After killing many to capture England, this Duke of Normandy, France joined the dead.
- Mir Osman Ali Khan ($230, died 1967)
As head of the state of Hyderabad, India, he used a 185-carat diamond as a paperweight.
- Czar Nikolas II ($300, died 1918)
This Russian ruler was assassinated along with his family by communist revolutionaries.
- Andrew Carnegie ($310, died 1919)
This steel magnate and philanthropist said, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.”
- John D. Rockefeller ($340, died 1937)
He sold oil drawn from Ohio’s earth and now lays buried in the same.
- Mansa Musa I ($400, died 1337)
This African king of Mali was the richest man to ever live. But have you ever heard of him?
Psalm 49:7-12 :
“No man can buy his own ransom, or pay a price to God for his life. The ransom of his soul is beyond him. He cannot buy life without end, nor avoid coming to the grave. He knows that wise men and fools must both perish and must leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes for ever, their dwelling place from age to age, though their names spread wide through the land. In his riches, man lacks wisdom; he is like the beasts that are destroyed.”
The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627.
1st Sunday of Advent, Year C (November 29, 2015)
2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 6, 2015)
Immaculate Conception (December 8, 2015)
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 13, 2015)
4th Sunday of Advent, Year C (December 20, 2015)
Christmas (December 25, 2015)
Holy Family (December 27, 2015)
Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2016)
Epiphany (January 3, 2016)
Baptism of the Lord (January 10, 2016)
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 17, 2016)
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 24, 2016)
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (January 31, 2016)
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (February 7, 2016)
Ash Wednesday (February 10, 2016)
1st Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 14, 2016)
2nd Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 21, 2016)
3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C (February 28, 2016)
4th Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 6, 2016)
5th Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 13, 2016)
Palm Sunday of Lent, Year C (March 20, 2016)
Holy Thursday (March 24, 2016)
Easter (March 26-27, 2016)
Divine Mercy Sunday (April 3, 2016)
3rd Sunday of Easter (April 10, 2016)
4th Sunday of Easter (April 17, 2016)
5th Sunday of Easter (April 24, 2016)
6th Sunday of Easter (May 1, 2016)
Ascension / 7th Sunday of Easter (May 8, 2016)
Pentecost Sunday (May 15, 2016)
Holy Trinity Sunday (May 22, 2016)
Corpus Christi Sunday (May 29, 2016)
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 5, 2016)
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 12, 2016)
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 19, 2016)
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 26, 2016)
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (July 3, 2016)
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (July 10, 2016)
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (July 17, 2016)
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (July 24, 2016)
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (July 31, 2016)
A Mathematical Analysis of Genesis 18:22-33
Bid # for Innocents
Can you catch sight of each of the following persons or things depicted in the interior of St. Wenceslaus Church?
- Our single depiction of St. John the Baptist.
- The two appearances of St. Joseph.
- The Holy Spirit twice in the form of a dove.
- The two depictions of the devil as a serpent.
- How many halos are surrounding holy heads?
- How many depictions of St. Mary are here?
- How many angels do we have?
- How many images of Jesus are in our church?
Holymon Go! Answers
(Highlight to reveal):
- His statue appears atop our Baptistery.
- His statue and in a stained-glass window.
- He has this likeness in two of our windows.
- Under Mary’s feet; in a window and a statue.
- Our stained-glass windows depict twenty-four halos.
- Ten. (5 in windows, 4 in stations, and 1 statue, not including her Immaculate Heart window.)
- Six. (4 tabernacle statues and 2 in windows.)
- Twenty-three. (14 stations, 5 windows, 2 statues, and 2 crucifixes, not including sanctuary images of his Sacred Heart or the Eucharist.)
This profile of Msgr. Urban Baer was written by Fr. Ed Bertz for the La Crosse Diocese’s Catholic Times-Review sometime between 1963 and 1967.
Though he had stood in the same sanctuary every Sunday for the past 15 years, it was different this time. He was speaking to his flock for the last time. “By golly, I want to thank all you wonderful people for your cooperation.” His legs felt weak. He clutched the pulpit tighter. Monsignor Urban Baer, pastor of St. Wenceslaus parish in Eastman, continued. “We have seen bad times and good times together. But God has been good to us.” The vigor of 15 years ago was gone — “My ‘ticker’ isn’t what it used to be” — but never had the congregation listened so closely. “You could hear a pin drop,” someone said. Even though the word had gone around that “Monsignor was going to retire,” no one wanted to accept that fact that the “priest who never said an unkind word to anyone” was going to leave them.
He was born on December 8, 1903, in Marshfield, son of Peter and Mary Baer. He loved to romp and play with his five brothers and one sister but he felt God was calling him to the priesthood, and left St. John’s grade school for St. Lawrence Seminary in Mt. Calvary (Wis.) after the eighth grade. Seven years later, he entered Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis for his four-year theological studies and was ordained on June 9, 1929, by the famous Archbishop John Glennon (later a cardinal.) His first assignment was as assistant pastor at Holy Rosary parish, Darlington. One year later he became assistant at Sacred Heart parish in Eau Claire.
Then came an assignment that was to have a lasting effect on Father Baer’s ministry. He was named pastor of St. John the Baptist parish in Wuerzburg and its mission, St. Thomas in Milan, just as the stock market crash of 1929 was having its effect on the rural economy. It was the beginning of a rash of farm foreclosures. “Farmers just didn’t know where to turn.” Father Baer didn’t throw up his arms in despair. Remembering the words of Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul — “The priest’s place is also in the world if the world is to be won for Christ.” — he decided to do something. He studied the farm problem and sought advice from a priest who was doing something about rural economy “long before me.” Father Joseph Steinhauser was “dean of Catholic Rural life leaders,” Monsignor Baer says, adding that “I was only a young whippersnapper, cutting my eye teeth at that time.” A fast and true friendship grew between the two priests and still exists today
But what can two priests do for such a complex problem with a multitude of causes? They did a lot. First of all, the farm foreclosures had to be stopped. Monsignor Baer promoted cooperatives and credit unions. Gradually the tide began to turn even though the two priests came under heavy fire because some thought their remedy too socialistic. Secondly, they preached and they wrote on the Christian principles involved in the farm movement. What Christian principles? “The land is man’s greatest material (that word is important) gift from God.” They reminded farmers of the responsibility of Christian stewardship of the soil and the Christian dignity of a farmer’s calling. These two things have tremendous ramifications. Finally, they promoted the family-size farm.
Monsignor believes that though farmers are leaving the land at an alarming rate and existing farms growing larger, the family-size farm is not a lost cause even today. “There will always be the family-size farm. Lord, save us if we don’t.” He expressed dismay at what he calls “factories in the field” — large farm corporations.
[The eight paragraphs omitted here may be read from the original article, posted in a frame in our parish hall along with other articles about Msgr. Baer.]
Then in August of 1950, [Father Baer] was appointed pastor at Eastman. Among the myriad achievements here was the construction of one of the first catechetical centers in the diocese. He was named a diocesan consulter in 1953. Pope Pius XII named him a domestic prelate [monsignor] in 1956.
He still thinks about that Sunday he said goodbye to his flock at Eastman. He’s only 12 miles away, now, living in a small house (1206 South 6th St.) in Prairie du Chien which sprawls along the Mississippi River just “down the hill” from Eastman. But the grey, balding man with “the world’s most affable disposition” hardly has time for daydreams or nostalgic reveries. He’s up early enough to celebrate Mass at 8 a.m. in a beautiful but tiny chapel. By special privilege of the bishop, he may sit down and rest at times during Mass, as the early sun floods through the east window. His day is an active one.
Besides talking to a steady stream of visitors and answering correspondence, he is gathering materials for still another book. “Good gravy, I’ve almost got all of the material for it already.” What’s the book going to be about? “The priest and his role in the community,” Monsignor answers in serious tone. “The priest must be active not only among his own parishioners but with the whole community. He must be concerned for the economic as well as the spiritual welfare of the people. He has to help lead the communities in all ways.” There’s no hollow ring to these thoughts coming from Msgr. Urban Baer, a man who lives his ideals!
We human beings are creatures of habit. For better or worse, we find it easier to think and act in the ways that we are accustomed to. Without self-awareness, it can feel natural to follow established modes of thinking into sinful action. However, once we examine and challenge these temptations we can recognize them as the distortions of truth and reality that they are. Then, with God’s ever-present grace, we can choose and act to reject them.
We experience temptations as the thoughts, feelings, and desires that, if not resisted, would lead us away from God’s will and our greatest human fulfillment. And from where do our temptations flow? They come, as the classic saying goes, from “the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.” The World, our culture and the people around us, can suggest sinful paths. Likewise our Flesh, our passions and psychological wounds, can give rise to temptation. Finally, the Devil, with the fallen angels allied with him, can prompt ideas and moods within us in order to lead us towards sin. If we are to resist temptations we must first detect them amidst our thoughts, feelings, and desires.
The distorted thinking of our temptations comes to us in many forms. Do you fall for any of these common temptation traps? Study these and enter your next battle prepared, forewarned and forearmed!
Overgeneralization reaches a general conclusion based upon a single incident or piece of evidence:
“I just got dumped. I’ll never find love!”
“God didn’t grant my prayer. He doesn’t care.”
“I never hire those people, one stole from me once.”
All-or-Nothing Thinking has no tolerance or mercy for imperfection in ourselves or others:
“I broke my Lenten penance, so I’ve given it up.”
“I sinned, so my hours of resisting mean nothing.”
“I’ve never spoken to him since he was rude to me.”
Mental Filtering focuses on a situation’s negative details while dismissing all of the positive aspects:
“Yes, Son, but what about this B- in Science?”
“When I look back on my day, all I see are sins.”
“They said they liked it, but what she said irks me.”
Labeling generalizes from a couple of traits or events to declare a universal negative judgment:
“I need to lose some weight. I’m ugly.”
“I never do anything right; I’m worthless.”
“I’m taking more naps as I get older. I’m so lazy.”
Mind Reading presumes to know (without asking) how others feel or why they act as they do:
“I know I promised, but the kids won’t mind.”
“He’s late. He must not care about this team.”
“Her eyes are closed. She’s not listening to me.”
Magnifying exaggerates the significance of problems or events:
“I’ll never finish this paper by next week!”
“I did bad things in a dream. I’m so ashamed.”
“I prayed an hour, but I kept getting distracted!”
Minimizing downplays serious concerns to insignificance:
“A little peek at this website is no big deal.”
“This habit is a venial sin, so it’s OK if I do it.”
“Why are you complaining? My drinking is fine.”
Catastrophizing assumes the worst about the present and the future:
“What if I lose my job, get sick, and die?”
“I’ll never conquer this sin—why even try?”
“He’s moody tonight. Is our marriage in trouble?”
Personalization believes everything that happens is caused by, or is a reaction to, oneself:
“I jinxed the team, I didn’t wear my hat.”
“This happened because God is punishing me.”
“I saw my two friends; why didn’t they invite me?”
False Shoulds condemn us for weaknesses or choices that are not actually sins:
“I should always keep my family happy.”
“I sinned by missing Mass when I had the flu.”
“It still hurts, so I must not be forgiving them.”
Emotional Reasoning concludes that how we presently feel must be the true reflection of reality:
“I feel so sad, I must be failing.”
“This feels so good, how could it be wrong?”
“I feel guilty; God must be unhappy with me.”
If this topic interests you, check out Cognitive Behavior Therapy and “cognitive distortions.” CBT is the most widely-used technique for the treatment of many psychological issues (such as depression and anxiety) and is proven to be often effective.
Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appointed my father, Charles V. Feltes, as the new Circuit Court Judge of Trempealeau County. Judge Feltes will be sworn in this August. If he wins election in April 2017, he will serve a six year term. Our family is very proud and I offer him these timeless passages from Sacred Scripture containing wisdom for judges:
In rendering judgment, do not consider who a person is; give ear to the lowly and to the great alike, fearing no one, for the judgment is God’s.
You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your neighbor justly.
You shall not favor the poor in a lawsuit.
You shall not pervert justice for the needy among you in a lawsuit.
You shall keep away from anything dishonest.
Never take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and distorts the words of the just.
You shall not follow the crowd in doing wrong… you shall not follow the crowd in perverting justice.
1st Kings 3:4-15
The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the great high place. Upon its altar Solomon sacrificed a thousand burnt offerings. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you. Solomon answered: “You have shown great kindness to your servant, David my father, because he walked before you with fidelity, justice, and an upright heart; and you have continued this great kindness toward him today, giving him a son to sit upon his throne. Now, LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act—I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours?”
The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request. So God said to him: “Because you asked for this—you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies—but you asked for discernment to know what is right—I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days. And if you walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and commandments, as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” Solomon awoke; it was a dream! He went to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, sacrificed burnt offerings and communion offerings, and gave a feast for all his servants.
Twelve score, or 240 years ago, our American forefathers began a revolution for freedom. For eight years, they fought to secure their independence from tyranny. They would go on to establish a national government; not meant create rights from nothing, but to help ensure and keep safe the human rights that “We the People” have from God. At the close of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a lady asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
The Framers established a government with three separate branches: a Legislative branch to create laws, an Executive branch to enforce the law, and a Judicial branch to resolve conflicts of law. This separation and balance of powers was designed to protect liberty against our fallen human nature. In the words of James Madison, who is called the architect of U.S. Constitution: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” The Framers knew how leaders tend to consolidate power around themselves as dictators and the tendency of majorities to trample the rights of weaker minorities. James Madison adds, “It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Our American republic depends not merely upon its laws but on the virtue of its people. George Washington said, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Ben Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
Our representative government is made in our image, and unfortunately it reflects and shares our errors and flaws today. For example, we live beyond our means. The average American household owes $7,400 in credit card debt. And our government in our likeness cannot repay its debts, which are approaching $20 trillion, or about $60,000 of debt for each one us. We end the lives of our unborn children, almost one million of them each year. And our three branches of government are either unwilling or unable to safeguard in law every innocent human being’s God-given right to life. We are increasingly non-religious, leading people to think that churches serve no spiritual or social good and that their tax-exemption should be stripped. And we see our religious freedom diminishing, such that you can be financially-ruined for exercising your religious conscience in your occupation. We think it’s OK to do whatever it takes to win, we see parents and coaches encouraging kids to cheat or siding with them when they get caught. Meanwhile our political leaders are so brazenly lawless and tell such transparent lies, yet there are no consequences for any of it. How can our country remain free if virtue and our respect for the rule of law dies?
It appears that trying years are ahead for Catholic Americans, but there are (at least) three things we can do: pray, prepare, and keep perspective.
We pray the St. Michael prayer near the end of our Masses to ask his help as the leader of the heavenly armies. We do this because evil spirits are real and active in our day. They are smarter than us and more powerful than us, but they are not more powerful than God and His angels. We should pray for our country. I cannot see how our country’s bad trends will be reversed, but God is cleverer and mightier than our imaginations so hope for a rebirth of virtue and freedom for our country remains.
In addition to prayer, we should prepare, beginning with ourselves. The final words before the signatures on the Declaration of Independence say, “[F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” How much are we willing to sacrifice in obedience to Christ? This is important to consider, for Jesus says, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” We should also endeavor to prepare our children, be they youths or adults, for a future living as “lambs among wolves.” For if the things we see now are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?
Besides prayer and preparation, we should also keep perspective. This American experiment has been, on a whole, a blessing for its people and the world. However, there is no guarantee that the United States will endure until Jesus returns. Only the Catholic Church is assured to remain until the end, even if as a small, beleaguered remnant. One of the benefits of studying Church history is that you realize how the Church has always appeared to be going down the drain, with troubles and persecutions in every age, and yet she endures. Let us remember that this is not our eternal home. In not so many years, each one of us will shake the dust of this earth from our feet to leave for our true homeland. As Isaiah says in our first reading, “In Jerusalem [that is, the heavenly Jerusalem] you shall find your comfort.” We are citizens of Heaven, and as for this country, we are only passing through.
So let us pray, prepare, and keep perspective. Things look bad for our country in the years and decades ahead. Nevertheless, do not despair at the advances of evil around us, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven, and we know who wins in the end.
This fall, HBO will begin airing an eight-episode miniseries imagining the first American to be elected pope. While this drama may or may not attract viewers, I predict “The Young Pope” will fail to truly capture the Catholic Faith and Church. I had similar doubts when Showtime floated a similar premise in 2013. (“The Vatican” was to star the actor who played Adolf Hitler in the movie “Downfall” but none of its episodes ever aired.) The creator and director of “The Young Pope,” Paolo Sorrentino, describes what his new series will be about:
“The clear signs of God’s existence. The clear signs of God’s absence. How faith can be searched for and lost. The greatness of holiness, so great as to be unbearable when you are fighting temptations and when all you can do is to yield to them. The inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as Pontiff. Finally, how to handle and manipulate power in a state whose dogma and moral imperative is the renunciation of power and selfless love towards one’s neighbor.”
Though some are more optimistic, I have low hopes for this series. The Catholic Church has beautiful stories to tell, but “The Young Pope’s” trailer and the quote above telegraph brooding agnosticism free of Christian joy. “The Young Pope’s” Pius XIII is reportedly “a conflicted man who must find a way to balance his ultra-conservative views with his immense compassion for the sick and the poor.” In other words, Catholic teachings will be falsely pitted against Christian love. Which one do you imagine will prevail in our hero?
A Vatican TV drama could be made with either the cynicism of “House of Cards” or the hopeful idealism of “The West Wing.” Which set of plot-lines below (“A” or “B”) do you think we could expect to see these days in a major miniseries about the papacy?
The Dinner Guest
A: The pope invites to dinner a priest-friend from seminary. At table, the priest asks the pope to lift the “impossible burden” of celibacy. The pope sympathizes but he explains (citing solely pragmatic reasons) that there is nothing he can do. By the meal’s end, the priest is asking to be released from the priesthood so that he might marry a former nun with whom he has fallen in love (and sin.) The pope, sadly subdued, grants his second request.
B: The pope invites to dinner a Roman beggar who once served as a priest. At dessert, the pope asks him to hear his confession. “I cannot do that,” the man replies, “I have renounced the priesthood. My priestly faculties have been taken away from me. I am no longer a priest.” The pope answers, “Once a priest, always a priest… As Bishop of Rome and head of the Catholic Church I can restore your priestly faculties to you…” The man’s priesthood is restored and he hears the pope’s confession. The priest is then assigned to the church where he had previously begged with a special responsibility for the poor who seek alms at the church door.
The Persecuted Refugees
A: As the cause advances to beatify Pius XII (the pope who reigned during the Second World War) the current pope personally investigates his predecessor’s record in the Vatican’s Secret Archives. When the pope concludes that Pius XII should have done more to save persecuted Jews from the Nazis, he places the entire beatification project on (permanent) hold.
B: The pope intervenes to help when a religious minority is threatened by an evil state. He facilitates the safe escape of thousands, even housing refugees within Rome’s convents and monasteries and at the Vatican itself. When peace returns, a world-famous agnostic scientist declares, “Only the Catholic Church protested against this onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.”
A Target of Controversy
A: After the pope describes the theory of evolution as being “more than just a hypothesis,” right-wing Catholic extremists plot to kill him for teaching heresy. After the nearly-successful bomb plot is thwarted, the pope laments the need to ‘lead our Church out of the Dark Ages.’
B: A Muslim gunman critically-wounds the pope as he greets crowds of pilgrims in St. Peter’s square. After the pope’s recovery from four gunshot wounds, he visits his would-be assassin in prison, enters his cell, and forgives him.
Which of these plot-lines could more believably appear on television? While the “A” stories above are my own works of fiction, each “B” story relates a true incident. The episode of the dinner guest who heard Pope John Paul II’s confession is told in an article by K. D’Encer entitled “The Priest, the Beggar and the Pope.” It was Pope Pius XII who hid and helped thousands of Jews during WWII, and the agnostic scientist who praised the Catholic Church for defending his people was Albert Einstein. St. John Paul II did call evolution “more than just a hypothesis,” but no reactionary Catholic extremists tried to kill him for expressing this non-heretical view. In 1983, Pope John Paul visited Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who had tried to kill him two years prior, and forgave him face-to-face.
This is not to say that a truly great drama about the papacy would or should ignore the realities of darkness, sin, and division. But secular treatments of the Catholic Church in this world trace her shadows without acknowledging her light. As the Latin adage says, “No one gives what he does not have.” (Nemo dat quod non habet.) Lacking a well-formed faith, no screenwriter can be expected to do justice to Jesus’ Church in its complex but saving reality.