PSA: Unauthorized Access (resolved)

Fr. Joel Free Range

Around January 15th, 2019, I discovered unauthorized access to the website. An unknown party had managed to create an administrative account. This gave them access to any and all content on the website including visitors’ comments and feedback that had been submitted through the website form. They did not have had access to emails that I sent or received through my email address, nor to the subscriber list email addresses.

The account appears to have been created on October 2, 2018. The only damage I could find was two posts that had been modified by the addition of links to websites: real-estate, hardware, and a news article on lottery winners. There was no other damage or evidence of malicious activity. I took steps to secure the blog and repair the damage. In doing so, I seem to have broken the media player and also disabled the emailing of new posts to subscribers. For subscribers who depend on an email it appeared that I had stopped posting.

The podcast continued to function normally. I believe the player has been fixed. Subscribers are once again being notified of new posts. Thank you to Steve, Todd, and Brenda for bringing these issues to my attention. Please let me know if you notice any continuing or additional problems. Thank you.

Working Hard, Catching Nothing? Peter Shows Us How | #912

Fr. Joel Homilies

Ordinary Time, 5th Sunday (C) Have you worked hard all night and caught nothing? Stop washing your nets and spend a little time in silence. Maybe God is calling you to put out a little from shore, to cast into the deep, or to stay put just where you are. The Lord isn’t far away — and he has what you need. (10 Feb 2019)

Going Deeper: Do you find silence maddening or refreshing? Spend quiet time in silence.

Thank you Sue! | Photo Credit

Bishop’s Appeal: Missionaries of Hope | #911

Fr. Joel Homilies

Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday (C) Today our guest homilist, Bishop Ricken, kicks off the annual Bishop’s Appeal in the Diocese of Green Bay. If we really lived what it means to be a “Catholic”, that second reading would apply to us: patient, kind, not arrogant, not brooding over injury, etc. Giving money is the easy part. How is God calling YOU to be a missionary of hope?

(3 Feb 2019)

Going Deeper: Learn more about the Bishop’s Appeal. Consider making a Gift to this important appeal.

A Cancer in the Body of Christ | #910

Fr. Joel Homilies

Ordinary Time, 3rd Sunday (C) We are given a holy place and a holy time so that we might become God’s holy people. Every part of the Body of Christ matters. Parts that live for themselves become a cancer and must be cut out. Each part contributes to the good of all. Be holy! (27 Jan 2019)

Going Deeper: Make a little time to sit and read Sacrosanctum Concilium, the document on the Liturgy from Vatican Council II. Then share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happily Ever After | #909

Fr. Joel Homilies

Ordinary Time, 2nd Sunday (C) Today we are saying goodbye to the old St. Joseph Church. You have such good memories of the building. God has met you here and blessed you here in so many ways. But the same God has been working with us to prepare something new. Your builder is working on you every day. God will transform your daily ‘water’ of loving and serving into the ‘wine’ of Happily Ever After. When will this finally happen? On the third day. (20 Jan 2019)

Going Deeper: Consider your place of worship: What are some of the ways that God has met you there over the years?*454/Barron+city+hall+welcome+home+jayme+sign+12x9.jpg

Have You Forgotten Who You Are? | #908

Fr. Joel Homilies

Baptism of the Lord (C) We enter the church through one main door and around the Baptismal font. Baptism greets us at the ‘door’ of the church and leads us to the Eucharist. Baptism also sends us out into the world to be light and hope. Jayme Closs hasn’t forgotten who she is. Elizabeth Smart had to keep remembering who she was. Baptism washes away our false identities and welcomes us to the altar of praise. It sends us into the world to bring to the good news to others. God has not forgotten you. Have you forgotten who you are? (13 Jan 2019)

Going Deeper: What helps you remember who you are? Here’s a song that has helped me. Jason Gray – Remind Me Who I Am

Jason Gray – Remind Me Who I Am

Image Credit: WBAY | Powered by Patrons

Why the Nativity Scene has an Ox and a Donkey | #907

Fr. Joel Homilies

Holy Family (C) We want the best for our children. At Baptism they are adopted into both of Jesus’ families. We need to help them know personally their Heavenly Family (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and their Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, Joseph). Do we want our children to be humble, hard-working, generous, and willing to say yes to God’s call? Then we must live the same way. Let Jesus be the King of your heart; let him be the Lord of your family.

(30 Dec 2018)

Going Deeper: Check out Anchor of Hope TEC. Make plans to bless your home with chalk on Epiphany.

Powered by Patrons. Thank you Sue and all our donors in 2018.

Come Home to Bethlehem this Christmas | #906

Fr. Joel Homilies

Christmas, Midnight Mass • We left the Garden of Eden and wandered in the cold and darkness outside. Until we come to the warmth and light of Bethlehem. Become humble to welcome a relationship with God. As we hold the helpless babe, we too are held in stronger hands.

Welcome the Christ child into your hearts and homes. Let the warmth of His love fill you and transform you. Come home to Bethlehem for the holidays. (25 Dec 2018)

Going Deeper: Where have you experienced a moment of peace and joy this Christmas season? Find some quiet time to commune with the Lord.

Power by Patrons | Images from Wikimedia and Flickr

This Is Why Grandmas Kept the Christmas Decorations Up Until January 6th | #905

Fr. Joel Homilies

Advent, 4th Sunday (C) Why is the birthday of Jesus such a big deal? Our ancestors realized that most people haven’t grasped the True Meaning of Christmas by the time December 25th comes around. So they taught the true meaning of Christmas with three more feasts:

Jesus The True Sacrifice (January 1st)
Jesus is the Lamb of God, born to give his life for you and me. Ancients saw in Jesus’ circumcision a first shedding of his blood for all mankind.

Jesus The True King (January 6th)
Wise Men arrive from the East. The ancients depicted this scene as the Christ Child seated on his mother’s lap, like a King receiving tribute from his faithful subjects.

Jesus The True God (February 2nd)
Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, bringing the presence of God to the world. When Jesus is Presented in the Temple we go out to meet him with lit candles. Candlemas is the sparkler sendoff for the Christmas season.

Do you want to understand the true meaning of Christmas? Mark these dates on your calendar. Keep your Christmas decorations up through January 6th. Keep up your nativity scene and your Advent wreath until February 2nd. Let the truth of Jesus sink into your soul.

(23 Dec 2018)

Going deeper: Read the story of King David and the Ark in 2 Samuel 6. Do you see parallels with Luke 1:39-45?


Is the Christmas Tree a Christian Symbol?

Fr. Joel Church meets World

You cut down a tree and then you dress its corpse with candles?” ~Olaf

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. Why would you sing about a Christmas tree? And why do we even have Christmas trees? We chop down a perfectly healthy tree, drag it inside, dress it with lights and ornaments as it slowly dies. Looks like the work of a madman. People often explain the tree as, “an old pagan holiday that was Christianized.” But there has to be a reason why this madness spread. If you mediate on the Christmas tree, you will see that it holds many lessons about the Christ Child.

Evergreen: This tree doesn’t lose its leaves; in the dead of winter it stays fresh and green. The human race was dead in sin like a forest in winter. Jesus comes to give us true life, eternal life. He is evergreen, and he wants us to be evergreen.

Lights: Jesus is the Light of the World, the light that the darkness cannot overcome (see John 1). When we let Jesus into our hearts, he frees us from darkness and makes us shine with God’s light.

Ornaments: We hang beautiful, precious, and sentimental things on the tree; our favorites often remind us of childhood. Jesus holds all good things, our past and our future. He is always with us, and he cares about the things that are precious to us.

Candy Canes: Their shape reminds us of a shepherd’s crook. Shepherds greeted the baby in Bethlehem. He is a descendant of the shepherd-king David. Christ is the Good Shepherd sent to lead God’s flock. His sheep hear his voice and follow Him.

The Star or the Angel: We top the tree with a star or an angel, both images from His birth, and images of Heaven. They remind us that we are on a journey to heaven. We must keeps our lives pointed towards Eternity.

The Severed Tree: The tree is cut down in order to give us life and light. Jesus, too, was cut down on the cross for our sins. The tree makes a sacrifice for you; it gives its life to brighten your Christmas. Never forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you.

We need to be reminded over and over of the true meaning of Christmas. We need time to let it sink into our hearts. Put your nativity scene in a place where you can sit and reflect on it by the glow of the Christmas tree. Keep your tree up through the 12 days of Christmas, until the Wise Men come on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. Then bring home blessed chalk from Church and bless your home. You might even sing a hymn: O Christmas Tree!

Christmas peace and joy,
~Fr. Joel Sember