Our new assistant pastor has arrived! Welcome Fr. Matthew Niggemeyer (feel free to call him Fr. Matthew or Fr. Niggemeyer). Sacred Heart Parish is so happy you are here. Thank you for seeking Jesus and responding to his invitation to serve His people as a Catholic priest. We look forward to getting to know you in the coming days, weeks, and months. Know that we are praying for you as you make the transition into parish life.
What do a couple of buses, 60 teens and 14 adults from our area parishes, three priests, and a seminarian have in common? They all made a pilgrimage to Rochester, Minnesota this past weekend to one of the annual summer Steubenville Youth Conferences. I was BLESSED to make the trip with them this time.
What did we encounter? New friendships, great music, over 1,700 confessions heard by 30 plus priests, the Holy Spirit…and the Limitless Love of Jesus Christ. Our group will be sharing some of their experiences with you soon, but for now let me just say WOW. I felt Jesus’ healing presence and was so deeply moved by the Holy Spirit present among us during Adoration. It left me humbled and without words. I know that many of our teens had similar experiences.
Before this, I had never experienced the kind of a place where teens can just be themselves singing and dancing along with awesome musicians (thank you Matt Maher for the great concert!!), asking questions about their faith, and adoring the Blessed Sacrament alongside 2,500 of their peers…and loving it! How I wish I could have had this kind of opportunity when I was growing up. This is I want that for my own kids and for yours.
I just can’t stop smiling, singing, and sharing so stop by the parish office and let’s talk. Next year’s trip is being planned already and I know that anyone that goes will encounter Jesus. Don’t be afraid. This conference will help your teen take the next step in their walk with Christ.
“Who is this man who forgives sins?” This is the objection we hear many times in the Gospels (Luke 5:21; Luke 7:49; Mark 2:7; Matthew 9:1-8), because only God can forgive sins, correct? That’s correct. But there’s no doubt that Jesus is reviled. People sense he has authority but they are intensely resistant. They would rather have it their own way.
The unique claim of Jesus is that he is God. The unique claim of the Catholic Church is that Jesus have authority to the Church to continue his work of salvation. In this day and age truth has become, at best, a confusing term. Increasingly what rules the day could be described as a “subjective sentimentalism”. In a recent article Fr. Dwight Longenecker provide a great explanation of subjectivism:
“Subjectivism is having one’s thoughts, moral decisions and relationships determined solely by their affect on oneself. I become the judge of all things because there is no other agreed, external authority.”
“Sentimentalism is that frame of mind which is determined not by thought or logic or any kind of reasoning at all, but purely by emotion and personal feelings.”
Both are caused my not having an agreed external source of truth. In other words, without first principles (or first things) all we are left with is emotions as a basis for making judgement and decisions. So, what we’re left with is a nation of adolescents, who are guided by their “fluctuating emotions”.
This is the reason we have arrived at the massive disconnect between the church and those who lack an understanding of “first things”. Catholics teach that certain things are right and wrong for “clear and articulate reasons”. The problem is that those working in a subjective mindset don’t believe it’s possible to see things with such certainty.
Which brings us back to Jesus. He claimed to be the Son of God – God in the flesh. If he is indeed God, then he is the Foundation from which everything else springs. If we are going to get anywhere together, we have to find a way to agree on first principles.
I came across this article by Msgr. Charles Pope, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. He provides some excellent points to help us engage a rapidly changing culture.