Suspension of All Public Masses in the Green Bay Diocese

Fr. Joel Life on Planet Earth 3 Comments

Bishop Ricken has ordered an unprecedented suspension of the celebration of public Masses in the Diocese of Green Bay, effective this Friday. This includes both weekday and Sunday Masses. That news was followed quickly by Governor Evers’ order to suspend all public gatherings of 10 or more people and close all restaurants and bars. Mass will still be offered every day, but with very limited attendance. You are encouraged to plan your Sunday around a televised or live-streamed Mass in order to stay connected with Jesus in the Eucharist.

  • TV:
    • WFRV Local 5 will broadcast Bishop Ricken celebrating Sunday Mass at 10:30 a.m.
    • WBAY Channel 2 has Sunday morning Mass at 5:30 a.m., and CW14 has Mass at 8:00 am.
    • Cable: EWTN televises Sunday Mass at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 11:00 PM. They have daily Mass at 7:00 AM, 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM. If you don’t have cable or satellite, you can watch the live stream on the internet as well.
  • Radio:
    • Sunday Mass is available on Relevant Radio, 1050 AM at 9:00 AM.
    • They have daily Mass as well at 12:00 PM.
  • Internet:
    • The ETWN and Relevant Radio offer live-streaming of the Masses that they broadcast.
    • The Cathedral in Green Bay is promising a live stream of their 9:00 AM Sunday Mass.
    • I will be offering a live stream as well through my Facebook page. Stay tuned for more details.

Right now I feel like I need to lay down for a few minutes until the world stops spinning. For my entire life, the Catholic Church has encouraged people to come to Mass in order to connect with Jesus and one another. We have tried to offer social events to help people connect. We are all feeling disconnected right now and looking for something solid.

Know that your church family has not disappeared. Even though we won’t be able to gather and worship together for the time being, we remain connected as members of the Body of Christ. We are all in this together, and we are all suffering together. Mass will continue to be offered for you, even if you cannot attend. We will all continue to pray for each other. God isn’t nervous; we shouldn’t be worried either. I have confidence that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Peace and joy in Jesus,
-Fr. Joel

Here are the relevant documents from the Diocese. I suggest you read #3 and #4.

  1. A Letter from Bishop Ricken announcing the suspension of all public attendance at Masses beginning this Friday, March 20
  2. The Official Decree Suspending Public Attendance at Masses
  3. A Press Release with simplified information on this topic
  4. Liturgical Directives
  5. Social Events Directives
woman with surgical mask meets Jesus

Spring Training: Social Distancing | #1018

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Lent, 3rd Sunday (A) The woman at the well is practicing “social distancing.” While she may have distanced herself from others, Jesus is not distant from her. He comes to meet her in her daily life. She has found no satisfaction in her daily habits or her relationships. She finds satisfaction in Jesus.

His Love is waiting for you in your everyday life. You may find yourself practicing a little “social distancing” this week. If you binge, you will find yourself dis-satisfied. If you pray, you will find yourself surprisingly satisfied. Even if we are distant from other people, Jesus is not distant from you. Turn to Jesus and be satisfied.

(15 Mar 20)

Going Deeper: Make time to pray and connect with Jesus this week, especially if you aren’t connecting with others right now.

Weekend Masses Will Still Be Celebrated March 14-15, 2020

Fr. Joel Life on Planet Earth 2 Comments

There is no change to the weekend Mass schedule for March 14 and 15, 2020. No one is obligated to attend.

Are Masses canceled this weekend, due to the coronavirus outbreak?
No. Some Diocese have taken that step, but the Diocese of Green Bay is not one of them. Fr. Joel Sember will be celebrating Saturday Mass at 4:30 PM at Holy Trinity and the usual Sunday schedule: 7:30 AM at St. Patrick, 9:00 AM at St. Anthony, 11:00 AM at Holy Trinity.

I heard that Bishop gave a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass?
That is correct. Most Catholics appear to be unaware of their obligation to attend Mass every Sunday unless they are legitimately impeded from doing so. Our elderly parishioners are very aware of this obligation. By dispensing from this obligation, Bishop is encouraging the elderly and the immune-compromised to avoid Mass for their own safety. Those who are sick should not attend out of charity for others. The specific wording of the decree reads:

To prevent the spread of disease, to allay fear, and to assure the consciences of the Faithful, I hereby grant a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the Sundays of March 15, 22, and 29, 2020.

Decree of Bishop Ricken on March 13, 2020

Does this mean I shouldn’t attend Mass?
If you are sick with any contagious disease or vulnerable to illness, you should not attend Mass. Everyone else is welcome and Masses will be offered. You can catch the live stream of the Cathedral 9:00 AM Mass.

What steps are the parishes taking to avoid the spread of coronavirus?
We are following the guidelines from the Diocese by emptying Holy Water fonts, not offering the Sign of Peace handshake, discouraging Communion on the tongue and not offering the common cup. I would like to say that our churches will be sanitized after each Mass but I don’t have a cleaning team able to do that. So I suggest washing hands before and after attendance at Mass and other public gatherings and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. You should consider sanitizing your own hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol prior to taking Communion in the hand. Also online giving is available for Holy Trinity and for St. Anthony and St. Patrick.

Father, will you be live-streaming Mass like you did for the blizzard two years ago?
Our parishes do not have the equipment to live-stream Masses and I can’t both celebrate and manage social media at the same time. We would need equipment and a volunteer. So I can’t promise anything but I’ll see what we can do.

This is whole thing is nuts.
I prefer to see it as an opportunity to reconsider our priorities, spend time together as families, and support one another by sharing our stockpiles of hoarded toilet paper and hand-sanitizer with the less fortunate. The sad part for me is how loudly parents with children complain about schools being closed, as if caring for children were a terrible burden. Do we treat the elderly, and young children, as a burden or a blessing? They can hear you, you know. And we’re all giving up sports for Lent. Another place to examine our conscience about our priorities.


Spring Training: Your Coach is a Star

Fr. Joel Homilies 2 Comments

Lent, 2nd Sunday (A)

Last week I preached on the first rule of the spiritual life: say Yes to God and No to the enemy. If we want to succeed at our Lenten Spring Training, we need to listen to our coach. Today’s readings tell us that Abram listened to God’s voice and did as the Lord directed him. We hear the voice of God saying, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” You could not ask for a clearer message. Jesus is our coach and he coaches us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Listen to your coach.

How do you know that you have a good coach? We evaluate coaches based on their track record, quite literally. Coaches themselves were often players. Did he or she make records on the track, or perform well at their chosen sport? A coach with a good track record proves they know how to play the game. We also look at the coach’s own history of being coached as a player. If an athlete was coached by the best, if he or she received world-class training, they can pass that training on to their students. Sometimes we also depend on good genetics — the children of great athletes are expected to be great themselves, especially if their parents were also great coaches. Finally, there is the coach’s record as a coach. If he or she helped good athletes become great, that gives you confidence that they can also help you.

The readings from the Second Sunday of Lent are telling us that we can trust Jesus to coach us. His ‘track record’ is amazing. He, “destroyed death and brought life to light through the gospel.” Last week we watched him brilliantly overturn the temptations of Satan. This guy knows how to be human, and has lived the most amazing human life ever lived. He has a great ‘track record.’ Secondly, he was coached by the best. Moses and Elijah appear and they are conversing with him. Moses was the great lawgiver who brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Elijah is the great prophet who heard God’s voice, defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, and called Israel back to the Covenant. These guys are all-stars, and they’re the ones coaching Jesus. Third, Jesus is the Father’s Son. You don’t get better genetics then that. Finally, we see God’s record on display in the call of Abram. It was God who led Abram out of his homeland to become the Patriarch of the Israelite people.

We know that Jesus has an amazing ‘track record’ too when it comes to making saints. All the saints were coached by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is offering us this same world-class coaching. We are all given the teachings of the Church, the blessing of the Sacraments, and the guidance of the Bible. Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit. Live in the Spirit, listen to God’s beloved Son, and you will accomplish great things too.

{image source}

Spring Training: Listen to Your Coach | #1017

Fr. Joel Homilies 1 Comment

Lent, 1st Sunday (A) If you want to succeed at your spiritual spring training, you need to listen to the voice of your coach, the Holy Spirit. How do we know which voice is speaking to us? We turn to St. Ignatius, a master in the discernment of spirits. He says that the good spirit and the enemy spirit work in opposite ways. How they are working depends on which direction a person is moving:

  1. In a person moving away from God, the bad spirit will try to lull him into a sense of complacency. The good spirit acts like a kick in the pants, pricking and poking the person into action.
  2. In a person moving towards God, the good spirit strengthens and encourages. But the bad spirit acts to frustrate, discourage, and deceive a person into quitting.

Discernment is about the Who, not the what. Who is speaking to me? If it’s Jesus calling, say Yes, even if it’s difficult. God will give peace in your heart and strength to do His will. If the enemy is calling, say No, even if it looks really good. Pay attention to the movements in your life and you can teach yourself to listen to your coach and ignore the other voices. That’s spring training lesson #1.

(1 Mar 2020)

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two children playing baseball with jesus helping

Lent: Spring Training for your Soul | #1016

Fr. Joel Homilies 2 Comments

Ash Wednesday • Be holy, as the Lord your God is holy! Every Christian is called to be a little Christ. This means that we should live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loves. We see God’s holiness reflected in the life of Jesus and Mary and the saints. Other should see God’s holiness reflected in you. You are called to be a saint!

Welcome to Spring Training! It’s time to get your spiritual game on. Jesus was a giver. Why are we so good at taking? Jesus was a man of prayer. Why are we such prayer slackers? Jesus’ whole life was a sacrifice. We grumble when we have to give up one little thing.

Your training is not going to be easy. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Expect to be stretched and tried and challenged. You’re only going to grow if it’s hard. Your coach knows how to bring out the best in you. Welcome to spring training!

(26 Feb 2020)

Going Deeper: Draw a picture of Jesus on the cross. Next to it write: Jesus, I’m giving up _______ for Lent. I unite my suffering to your sacrifice on the cross.

Thank you Sue in honor of her father Joe. [image source]

kayaker on the ceiling

Lent is Like Learning to Kayak Upside-Down | #1015

Fr. Joel Homilies 2 Comments

Ordinary Time, 7th Sunday (A) Jack saw God in other people, and other people saw God in him. You were made in God’s image and likeness. This means you need to act like God and look like God to other people.

The last three weeks, Jesus has been telling us what God looks like. “Turn the other cheek; go the extra mile; love your enemies.” He finishes with, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The perfection we are called to is a sense of completeness, loving all people, and loving them completely.

But what about when people hurt us — we can hurt them back, right? Jesus has a different idea. He calls us to keep loving no matter what. We need to face our fears. And this is what Lent is all about. Be like a kayaker hanging out underwater, learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Face your fears and you will learn that you are stronger than hunger, injury, oppression or theft. Your Father will even the score in the end. You just keep loving generously.

(23 Feb 2020)

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Do You Hear the People Sing at Your Final Curtain Call? | #1014

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Ordinary Time, 6th Sunday (A) The Commandments are given to us by our Father, who created us and wants us to avoid suffering. We must accept God’s lordship and not just obey when it is convenient for us.

We all know you shouldn’t kill, lie, or commit adultery. But Jesus invites us to more. We must uproot even the seedlings of sin and selfishness. So Jesus plants the Holy Spirit deep with your soul. Nurture the spirit and you will find your heart bearing the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience…

How can you accept your Father’s authority? Give him the first hour of the first day of the week. Make Sunday Mass a priority in your life.

How can you nurture the Holy Spirit within you? Make daily prayer a priority in your schedule.

We must all face the music. Will you hear the people sing at your final curtain call?

(16 Feb 2020)

Going Deeper: Watch the finale of Les Miserables

Thank you Lisa and family and friends! [image source]

candles lit in front of picture of the slain

A Life Lived for Others | #1013

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Ordinary Time, 5th Sunday (A) Our political system rewards those who build themselves up and pull others down. But does this really lead to a fulfilling life? St. Paul doesn’t think so. And neither did Dr. Tetsu Nakamura. He used his gifts to build up the poor of Pakistan and Afghanistan and was hailed as a hero. What about us — are we playing the game of promoting ourselves or are we building others up? I felt constantly drained until I turned to a relationship with Jesus. He blessed me so that I could bless others. You have been blessed! Give and serve generously this week.

(9 Feb 2020)

Going Deeper: Read more about the life of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura.

Thank you Sally and Kat for building up the preaching podcast!
[image source]

Even More to be Grateful For | #1012

Fr. Joel Homilies 1 Comment

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord • I’ve been filling the gratitude jar every week. A funny thing happened since New years: I’m finding more and more to be grateful for. God’s light is always shining, no matter how dark our situation may be. But when we focus on the dark parts we can’t see the light. If we start looking for God’s light, we find it grows brighter and brighter. We begin to see his loving care everywhere. Focus on God’s light. Be filled with God’s light. Carry His light everywhere you go.

(2 Feb 2020)

Going Deeper: Get a quart jar. Every Saturday write down one thing you are grateful for and put it in the jar.

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