Pastor’s Column

First Sunday of Lent 2014

My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

Happy Lent!

We just began a journey – 40 days towards the Easter celebration.  We can associate with the Chosen People who spent 40 years in deserted places and longing for the promise land.  As followers of Jesus, we walk with Jesus through 40 days in prayer, fast and do charity; we are longing for God alone who can lift us up on the last day.

Many things are already happening in our parishes that are fostering the spiritual journey that we are walking together on these 40 days.  For example:  we will recite the prayer of Contrition before the Mass begins.  We will recite the Confiteor during the penitential rite, please pay attention to the “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa – through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” We are submitting that we are at fault, not our neighbor.   It is an act of humility that we are summiting ourselves before God as sinners and asking for the forgiveness.  We will pray for all men in our parishes and particularly the married men as we honor Saint Joseph the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary during this March and his feast day will be on March 19.  He is indeed my patron saint and for all who have chosen the name Joseph.  We recite the Saint Joseph prayer at the end of each Mass.  I challenge anyone to be able to memorize by heart these three prayers above in bold print by the end of March (please see me for the challenging), I promise a big surprise gift to you at Easter Time and your name will be posted in your honor in the bulletin on the Divine Mercy Sunday.

In the last eight months as your pastor, some of you may know by now that God gave me a great gift- that I can memorize things easily such as the weekly homilies.  I once memorized three homilies in one day; a celebration of Masses (a funeral, a wedding and Sunday).  With this great gift that God has given me and with my crippled broken English I am able to preach without notes sometimes.  For those who love eye-contact, you have given me a plus at how well I preach, even when most of the time my words do not come across their ears.  One thing you should know about me that, I come from a culture that taught me that I should never have direct eye-contact to the elders – it is an act of disrespectfulness.  However, I am facing dilemma in the culture I am now serving that if I am rolling my eyes much then it may make me subjective to dishonesty.  How am I doing please help?  Back to memorizing things:  within eight months of serving you, I have a clear sitting chart and I can picture a lot of you where you sit in church during mass:  at St. Mary I know where Kay and Don Gabrelcik are sitting and what Mass they are attending.  I know where Steven and Kathleen and their children are.  I know where the Danielson gang are when they are attending Mass.  I know where to find the Glavans.  I know the whole gang of Swartzers.  The Motzkos, even some of them are not related and many more such as the Vanderlindes at both St. Mary and St. Boniface.  At St. Boniface, I like to look for Adolph Burckhardt.  I like to see the Great Grand Parents Vanderlinde’s that are moving toward 69 years of marriage and still sitting at the same place.  I like to see Beatrice Sicheneder and sometimes family members join her.  I like to see the Segners at Saturday Mass.  I like Larry and Fran in their unchanged pew.  I like the Ebert guarding the right corner of the church.  I like the Eidens making the move whenever they are at church.  Yes, Allen and Elaine will save the exact spot for you.  Carol Heyer, your New Year Resolution is good health and I still remember that and pray for all to be the same as you wish.  I love grandma Fran Buesgens who always give me a hard time because she has not tasted my eggroll yet.  Those grandmas and grandpas like George and Bernice, Angeline Mader, Edie Widmer, Monica Dressen, Ann Rudnicki, Eileen Salden and the Great mother Agnes Thurk who is at my right hand on Saturday night.  Many more names that I am not able to list here, I am also apologizing by spelling out your names here without permission.  I only do this to honor you and my compassion to serve as I am called to be like Christ.

You may see how God’s gift has been given to me.  However, for the first five years living in this country, many times I had gone to confession but was not able to get the prayer of Contrition down to my heart.  I was much troubled with myself and frustrated of it.  At last, I decided to make a different move so I can get this prayer down.  Guess what!!! I actually went to confession with a priest at St. Thomas University everyday – thanks be to God I finally got it.  Give me a big applauds please! Thanks.

Now your turn, I have included in my Ash Wednesday preaching that instead of Giving-Up, why not Add-More?  More confessions, more Masses, More kindly words, More friendly faces, More prayers, More caring to others, More thankful attitudes, More family times, More and More you name it.  Jesus at this weekend gospel’s proclamation was tempted by worldly desires but He defeated them by introducing one More: “the Lord, your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Let us come and worship the Lord as Jesus commanded.

Rev. Joseph-Quoc Vuong