The Mark

08-31-2014Pastor's LetterSeminarian Jonathan Matthes

The Mark

A note from Seminarian Jonathan Matthes

To say the setting for our story is the Middle East is not specific enough. No we must narrow it down. More specific than a country like Syria or Iraq, more specific even than a city like Raqqa or Mosel. To tell this tale properly we must focus past the neighborhood, past the street, past the house all the way down to the door.

But why the door? It looks just like any door that could be found on any house throughout the Arab world.

Wait, what's that?

There's a mark in the corner. What is that? When scribbled hastily it looks like a "u" maybe even a smile. When stenciled properly it resembles an upside-down question mark or maybe even the soviet sickle. Of course it is none of those things.

What it is, is the Arabic letter "n" (pronounced "noon"), it is short for the world "Nasara" or in English "Nazarene". It is a slur directed at the home's inhabitants: Christians.


Back to School

08-24-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It has been an interesting August. Many families and students have kept me apprised of their return to school on all levels—grade school, high school and college. Some students asked for special blessings for safe travels and a good year. Let us pray for all our students, in school and in religious education. May they make holy decisions that will help them grow closer to Jesus.

As we begin this new school year, I have been thinking about education and catholic education in particular. In general, my thoughts return that baptismal rite of children in the Catholic Church when parents commit to the Christian education of their children. The rite reminds parents of their duty to bring their children up by teaching them the law of Christ and His Church.

At St. Joan of Arc, over the next few weeks, our school will open and our religious education programs will begin another year. Parents, please remember that the work of these important apostolates are supplemental to your efforts on the home front. In other words, the bl essi ngs of my reli gi ous education only assisted my parents in their work at home. My parents taught me to pray. My parents taught me to live a moral life. My parents instilled in me the need to serve others in Christ's name. My parents taught me how to repent from my sins. My parents opened my eyes to the vocation of priesthood that, in the end, has made me the most happy. I pray that this parental call for your children is one of your top priorities during this academic year!



08-17-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

You have probably heard the expression: "Catholic guilt." Some may wonder if there are different kinds of guilt. The answer is yes. Guilt usually has a negative connotation because the "guilt" causes heartache and suffering. Certain kinds of guilt are inappropriate and should be avoided when possible. However, all guilt isn't always bad.

A priest friend of mine told me about a book he is reading called, The Devil You Don't Know by a priest named Fr. Louis Cameli. He begins the book by talking about guilt and makes three helpful distinctions. He begins by saying that guilt is a feeling with limited staying power. That is, most times, we only carry it for a little while before it leads to other feelings, good and bad.

At times, guilt is an appropriate and helpful feeling! Guilt often spurs us to make things right. It sparks conversion and repentance as well as interior honestly. If we didn't have feelings of guilt, the confessional would be a lonely place for a priest! Healthy guilt, when dealt with honestly can lead to true repentance. If there is no repentance then there is no healing from the pain of our sinful choices.

By contrast, sometimes the feeling of guilt is unhelpful and unhealthy. That is, sometimes, as Cameli puts it, "the guilt we carry doesn't match the reality and is therefore inappropriate." For example, I challenge many parents to stop feeling guilty when, despite their best efforts, their grown son or daughter has made poor choices. I tell such parents that, "It is not your problem! They're adults! They need to be responsible for their choices!"


Handing on the Faith (part II of II)

08-10-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Parents and grandparents are irreplaceable apostles. This is a concise way of saying that adults have a vital role in preserving the faith and handing it on to future generations. I found a few tips to help Catholic parents and grandparents pass on the faith and I added a few from my own experience.

Hearing you pray out loud for them will move your children and grandchildren. Pray specifically about their future, their education and their faith. Pray about your desire to see them someday in heaven. Also, read stories to them about the saints and tailor those stories to match their interests (There is a saint for everything!)

A pilgrimage. I have fond memories of mini-pilgrimages to Catholic places—cathedrals, shrines, Catholic colleges, a convent or a seminary. Some families who are financially blessed might consider a trip to Rome or the Holy Land (when bombs aren't falling). These experiences will help shape young hearts and minds for a lifetime. Grandparents, a Catholic bookstore is also a wonderful place to spend your children's inheritance with your grandchildren! Buying sacramentals like prayer books, statues, rosaries and the like will keep a pilgrimage alive for years to come!


Handing on the Faith (part I of II)

08-03-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The most highly blessed grandparents of human history were Sts. Anne and Joachim. Their grandson was Jesus and we celebrated their feast day on July 26. Their influence on Mary enabled her to say "Yes" to Our Lord. Her openness to God's plan was because her parents taught her about God and the things of God.
The Gospels do not have too much to say about Mary's parents. What we do know is that parents do have a vital role to play in forming their children in the faith.
Research shows that many young people do not know much about the faith. Tragically, some adults aren't much better! That is why we are offering classes for parents in the Religious Education program. We cannot give what we don't have. To share the faith, you need to know the faith. Teaching your children the faith is primarily the work of the parent. If parents are unable to do their job in teaching children the faith, then grandparents must step in to help. The Church is here to support you, not to do your job.

To help our children, the Bishops have suggested that parents and grandparents can be amazing in helping young people understand the faith. Parents and grandparents are irreplaceable apostles. This is a concise way of saying that adults have a vital role in preserving the faith and handing it on to future generations. I found a few tips to help Catholic parents and grandparents pass on the faith and I added a few from my own experience.


Social Media, Marriage and Family (Part IV of IV)

07-27-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As marriage and families are attacked, many can feel helpless. What can you do if you feel this way? Pray! Pray as a couple and pray with your children. Bring your family to Mass every week. Mass is the highest and most excellent prayer. Secondly, I think the answer is accountability—bring marital issues into the light. Ignoring problems will only make it worse. If you find yourself in a dangerous place, go to confession. Find friends to hold you to the highest ideals. If you feel like your inappropriate use of technology is an addiction, groups like SA (sex addicts anonymous) are a tremendous help. We also have counselors to which we can refer you. Don't wait. Act now.

At St. Joan of Arc, we are blessed with a beautiful marriage preparation program. The couples WHO help prepare others for marriage do an incredible job and I am so grateful for their work. Please pray for them and their families. We are also blessed to have a wonderful couple who are available for marriage counseling. Dr. Gary and Alberta Pizzitola are located here in our parish. They are available to help couples put their marriages back together. Above all, if you have been hurt, DON'T GIVE UP TOO QUICKLY. Try to fix it! Trust me when I say that divorce is most times far worse. In addition, as a Catholic, I believe that the question is not "How hurt am I by my spouse's sinfulness?" But rather, "Is my marriage sacramental or ordained by God?" If it is, fight for your marriage. Don't let the world take it from you.


Social Media, Marriage and Family (Part III of IV)

07-20-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last week, I touched on the issue of the internet and infidelity. This week's thoughts are from an article about data released be the American Association of Trial Lawyers. It shows that 81% of all divorce cases in the last year used some form of evidence from a social media site when presenting their cases. Sixty-six percent (66%) of the offenses were on Facebook! Let's be clear: talking with someone of the opposite sex on social media can be infidelity and inappropriate.

Of course, there is also the scourge of pornography which most definitely effects marriage. Consider this: every second 28,258 internet users view pornography. That translates into over 40 million users in the United States alone. Further, more than 45% of Christians admit that pornography is a problem in their home. In my experience as a confessor and pastoral minister, I find these statistics to be low. It is everywhere and involves men AND women—-movies, pictures, chat rooms, erotic reading, texting and so on.

At this point, I can hear people saying, "Oh Father, lighten up!" But far from being prudish, I am out to protect marriages that are populated by husbands and wives and children who suffer tremendously. If marriages suffer,, then families suffer. If families suffer, then society suffers.

Next week I will address some of the possible solutions for husbands and wives who desire to keep their marriage and family strong.

God bless,
Fr. Don Kline, Pastor


Social Media, Marriage and Family (Part II of IV)

07-13-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Marriage, as God intended, is under attack every day. These attacks are from those who wish to redefine marriage so they can justify their own secular agenda. Their agenda is contrary to God's plan for marriage. What is even more troubling is that those who oppose this agenda are marginalized or vilified by those who support redefining marriage.

Nevertheless, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. That is, the erosion of traditional marriage and family often stems from how carelessly it is lived. Sometimes, we need to face facts about our behaviors that jeopardize marriage.

For example, when I was first ordained, I noticed that many reports of infidelity that I dealt with on a pastoral level resulted from ill-advised behavior in bars. It isn't rocket science. People hit a marital rough patch. They travel for work. They stop for a nightcap after a long day and make a stupid decision. For this reason, in pre-marital counseling, I advise couples to stay out of bars without their spouses.


Social Media, Marriage and Family (Part I of IV)

07-06-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We need to be praying for the preservation of Marriage as God has defined marriage. There is a lot of misinformation offered by very well-meaning but misguided individuals and groups telling us that marriage can be defined in ways that are against God's plan for married life. To be clear, God does have a definition of marriage. The Church teaches us that:

  • Marriage is the lifelong partnership of mutual and exclusive fidelity between a man and a woman ordered by its very nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children (see CCC, no. 1601; CIC, can. 1055.1; GS, no. 48).
  • The bond of marriage is indissoluble – that is, it lasts "until death do us part." At the heart of married love is the total gift of self that husband and wife freely offer to each other. Because of their sexual difference, husband and wife can truly become "one flesh" and can give to each other "the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love" (FC, no. 14).
  • Marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a sacrament. This means that the bond between husband and wife is a visible sign of the sacrificial love of Christ for his Church. As a sacrament, marriage gives spouses the grace they need to love each other generously, in imitation of Christ.

Farewell from Fr. Greg

06-29-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Greg Menegay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

For the past two years I have had the privilege of serving as parochial vicar here at St. Joan of Arc and the time has come for me to say goodbye. Beginning July 1, I will serve as the parochial vicar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale.

These past two years have gone by quickly and I will take with me many fond memories of my time here. It's been a great experience working with Fr. Kline, as he and I have been friends for many years. It's also been entertaining to spend time with his bulldog Maggie. The staff at this parish is truly exceptional. You're all very blessed to have such a competent and dedicated group working here. And it has definitely been a joy to minister to such a prayerful and faithful group of parishioners.

It's never easy to leave a place where you feel comfortable and settled, as I do here at St. Joan of Arc, but that is a part of what priestly ministry is all about. We go where the Lord calls us to go, and serve as the Lord calls us to serve.

Please remember me in your prayers as I will remember you in my prayers. Most especially let us pray for each other during the greatest prayer of the Church, the Holy Mass.

In Christ,
Fr. Greg Menegay


Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ

06-22-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Greg Menegay

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, known for many years as the Feast of Corpus Christi which is Latin for "the Body of Christ." The origins of this celebration date back to the 13 Homecoming for Returning Catholics: No matter how long you've been away, you can come home again. Check out th century but the belief that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist goes back to the beginning of the Church.

When Jesus gathered with His Apostles in the upper room for the Last Supper he took bread and blessed it and said "This is my body." He also took a chalice filled with wine and said "This is my blood of the covenant." What Jesus did at the Last Supper fulfilled what we read in John 6: 53 – 54; "So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

For over 2000 years now whenever Mass is celebrated, bread and wine are consecrated and by the power of the Holy Spirit become the Body and Blood of Christ. Every time you are at Mass it's as if you're in the upper room with Jesus and the Apostles during the Last Supper. And so let us rejoice on this great feast the Our Lord is truly present with us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Jesus is that "heavenly food" which leads us towards the promise of eternal salvation.

In Christ,
Fr. Greg Menegay


Happy Father's Day

06-15-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we give thanks to God for those who have the special title of father. St. Joseph, the appointed father of Our Lord, teaches us the importance of the role of a father. His steadfast presence as provider and protector for Our Lord and Our Lady are beautiful reminders of a father's love. Those who have experienced a father's love – have experienced a great blessing. For those who have had a negative experience of their earthly father, Our Lord provides us with the answer.

Jesus told us to call God – FATHER. When His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, Jesus said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Our Father…' " Our Lord actually went a step further than telling us to call God "Father." He himself addressed God as "Abba." (Mk 14:36). That word is from Jesus' own language, Aramaic. It is the word small children used when addressing their father; it is the word for "Daddy." We don't need to bother asking a little child why he or she calls their father "Daddy." The whole point is that it's not something that has to be thought about: it's a spontaneous expression of affection and trust. It's something a child just does because they simply love and trust.


How should you dress for Mass in the summer? (Part II of II)

06-08-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week I would like to continue to speak about pleasing Our Lord by how we dress for Holy Mass.

I read that Muhammad Ali explained modesty to his daughter this way: "Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at he bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You've got to work hard to get to them...Your body is sacred. You're far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too."

While mothers need to teach their daughters the art of being attractive without compromising their dignity, fathers need to teach their sons how to be gentlemen. Gentlemen do not wear shorts to church or hats inside church. Furthermore fathers need to speak to their sons about how to appreciate the gift of a woman without reducing her to a mere object of pleasure. For example, if a woman fails to dress appropriately the young man needs to learn the value of practicing custody of the eyes. Our Lord has warned us, "Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).


Modesty (Part I of II)

06-01-2014Pastor's LetterFr. Don Kline

Brothers and Sisters,

A few nights ago, I was watching the news and there was a segment at the White House. I noticed that when the President walked in, out of respect for the office, everyone stood. Those gathered wore suits and dresses and everyone was well-groomed--ready to meet a world leader. By the anticipation in the eyes of those gathered, you could tell that no one would have missed the chance to meet the President of the United States of America.

Of course, because I am a priest who relates everything back to Jesus, I started to wonder if we have the same attitude and awe toward the second person of the Trinity present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

I just want to remind you that Eucharist means, "to give thanks" and the MANY gifts that we enjoy in our community, "thanks" should be happening EVERY Sunday. I've heard that people "take the summers off" and by our Mass attendance records, there is significant proof that this is the case. But, as a Catholic, we are to go to Mass EVERY Sunday. If you are traveling, will direct you to another community where you can give thanks to Our Lord who has given us everything.