From the Pastor’s Desk

December Column. Happy Advent!

Happy Advent! It’s true this is a joyous season of preparation and anticipation. You probably won’t hear many people proclaim an Advent greeting to you these days. I have heard some suggest the Church abandon the season all together, acknowledge defeat and and make Christmas a month of December celebration. I for one don’t want to loose the joyful season of anticipation.

Perhaps the lesson we can take from Advent is that sense that already we have many reasons to rejoice, but there is more coming. During these days the temptation is to eat, drink, spend and be Merry. There is no reason not to be be joyful, but we don’t need to eat, drink and spend to be Merry. We can enter into the joy of the Lord’s coming and still moderate our feasting, quench our thirst on the flowing grace of the Spirit and spend ourselves in service to others in anticipation of the gifts God gives. His year you too can choose to keep some of the grand decorations back for the final days. You can leave the best drinks and treats until Christmas. Prepare till your hearts are content and wait in the silence and joy of the first snowfall (yes I know that was November 9). But remember how beautiful the snow was then? How fresh God made everything look? That white snow which delicately fell on the trees and covered the leaves is the same blanket of grace the Incarnation brings for you and me.

This Advent with each layer of decoration you hang, with each cookie you bake and with every gift you buy remember it is Jesus who covers you. When God looks at each of us he sees us covered in the glory of His Son. Welcome Jesus into your home, light the candles and trees in stages, as you know God draws close to us. This is a time of great rejoicing, this is a time to return to the pure white garment of Baptism. God is near already, and the more we reflect His light the brighter the world will be.

Happy Advent, may your days be Merry and Bright with the joy of HIs coming!

November 2018

November – talk about the end of time. At least liturgically speaking, we do talk about the end or fullness of time. Our liturgical year is in its final 4 Sundays! This year we get to celebrate Christ the King after giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Day! What a great return to the Lord – proclaim him King of all time and history. This is a month packed with bounty from God. Winter is near; yet God will see us through with more than enough.

The second Sunday of November is also an opportunity to renew our Stewardship of time and talent. As we take full count of the bounty we have – it is essential we make a return to the Lord. The psalmist asks – “How can I make a return to the Lord?” Later he proclaims, “I will take the blessing cup and call on the Lord”. Since the beginning of salvation history God has always asked for a return – not for His glory but for our good. When we serve the Lord we benefit! What a great way to extend our Thanksgiving from one day of gluttony to a lifetime of joyful service.

Even before national Stewardship Sunday we observe National Vocations Awareness week. Want to talk about the path of joy…then talk about vocation! If you’re looking for ways to discuss with your children the paths of service take a look at vocationlessons.com. These are free to use when you log in via our Diocese pass code (assumption815). There you can find lesson plans and activities for children of all ages. Of course our teachers at St Brigid may use some feel free to make a family commitment to prayer and discussion of vocation during the week. It starts Sunday, November 3 and ends on the 10th. You might also join the youth group for a holy hour Sunday night at 6:30pm.

In any manner however you offer your thanksgiving to God know I’m grateful and blessed by all of you. I remain a blessed pastor with such a great parish and civic community. Thank you for giving me reasons to praise God and raise the Blessing Cup in praise. God is good all the time!

October 2018

Early in the month of October we honor Saint Francis, this great Saint calls us to love poverty – an admission of our need for God’s grace. This whole month is a time of transition and change. Certainly the month our weather shifts toward fall and we must store up the sun kissed bounty for a later day. After Halloween all bets are off – snow can fall or we can get rain and wind and wish it were snow. The attitude of gratitude and giving thanks will see us through.

Giving thanks can see us through more than we know we can do. If we thank God for even the challenges of illness and see it as an opportunity to grow closer with Jesus in his suffering we can endure more than one would think. God is in our midst and very much a part of all we are. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is an expression of the union we have with God even in weakness. In the past this Sacrament was taught to be celebrated only at the moment of death. We now understand that God’s comforting presence should be a part of any serious illness. Join us October 9 for a public celebration of the Sacrament with all neighboring parishes in October 9 at 5:30 pm.

Finally don’t forget to be counted this month. We observe the annual tradition of the October count. These numbers give us a base line of attendance and may some day influence the decisions the Bishop makes in assigning priests. Our diocese is blessed with many great priests who want to serve the Church. Help us serve you by making your presence count, literally. Have a blessed month!

September 2018

September already! No doubt parents and children see this month differently. For parents it’s a chance to return to normal routine, to be productive and to drop the kids off at school and pick them up after practice. For kids its the reality that all of life cannot be lived at leisure, we must apply ourselves to study and preparation in school. Summer is always so short!

Perhaps its a good time to consider what the fruits of our labors are, since the last hurrah of summer is the Labor Day Holiday. Officially the Holiday marks the influence for the good of labor unions and movements. The groups which provide the structure of our understanding of the work day, fair pay and safety at work. When we celebrate labor we are also celebrating the accomplishments that we make to the world. Perhaps it is even a moment of pride to think of all that has been accomplished in the yard and in your home during the summer. Pride in our work is important and we should always strive to do our best.

Yet consider the moments that matter the most, the beauty that captures our attention. It is not our labor that produces the most enjoyment, it is God’s work that captures our attention. As I replay the moments of summer fun and vacation, it was the beauty and wonder of nature that truly mesmerized me. Yes its wonderful to watch the yard and the garden, yes it is great to see faces light up with inspiration as they listen to my homilies, but most of all it is easy to rejoice in God’s work when we stop to notice what is around us.

Magnificent – all God’s handiwork is truly magnificent. My trip to Alaska reminded me that God does not need us to improve on His work, only to stop, notice the wonder in all that God has done. For what made the views, the trills and the wonder was not what was built by human hands, but truly having wide expanse of nothing but God’s work to see. God’s work is not limited to the natural world. We are a part of his work. So as we celebrate Labor Day perhaps the mystery we celebrate is how we are part of the mystery of God’s creation, and how wonderful and awe inspiring each of us are!

They study of the mystery which God has made, that is what our children are doing in school. How exciting, to see, to notice and to uncover the logic of all that God has done. No your children won’t be any happier to see summer’s rest end, but what a great mystery God has entrusted to us, and what a great work begins each new school year. I can’t wait to marvel with you at all God will accomplish in the coming academic year, and celebrate the fruits of labor that continue the mystery of God’s creation.

August 2018

If you liked July we hope to have a repeat in August, if you’re waiting for fall, hang on a month. As the shadows stretch and nights cool during August it is truly a month of plenty. All the best things are harvested in August: sweet corn, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, peaches, blueberries, black berries, and so many more good things of the Earth. This is the time of many good things in the Northern Hemisphere as we enjoy the fruits of the Earth.

Perhaps knowing how much harvest and bounty we acquire during this time of year, or for whatever reason God intended, we are also blessed with a great feast that lifts our eyes and attention to Heaven. On August 15 we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a significant feast for us in the Diocese of Saginaw not simply because we are invited to take our attention off the many great things of this life and consider the beauty of heaven. Our Diocese is specially linked to Mary’s Assumption as our Cathedral is dedicated to her name and the mystery of the Assumption.

While we know it is never safe to make an assumption, when it comes to the question of where Mary is – Heaven is a sure bet. The Assumption is that not only is she in heaven, but she was literally taken up in her body to heaven. The body which was the first tabernacle would be ready for entry to heaven. This feast is about the true dignity of the human body. Since it is the patronal feast day of our Diocese it’s also a powerful reminder of the destiny of our local Church. We are called not just to give praise and glory now, but for all time in the heavenly choirs. I know schedules can make Church attendance difficult, but let’s assume you won’t miss out on this great feast day!

While on the topic of our Diocese and its Cathedral, perhaps you want to make a pilgrimage to visit and pray on this feast day in our “mother church”. The Cathedral is the one church which truly belongs to each member of the diocese. From the Cathedral the Bishop sends the words of the Gospel to each parish and invites us to participate in the Sacraments and life of the Church. There is no better day to take a ride and have your eyes, mind and heart raised to God in our Cathedral than this great feast day. Usually Bishop Cistone celebrates Mass at 12 noon on Holy Days there, and the parish community also has an evening Mass that day.

If you take my challenge and attend the Assumption Mass at Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, it will no doubt be one more thing that summer enables us to complete. The days are moving fast now, and before we know or can explain, school will be back in session. God bless your travels, your summer and may we all be with our Mother in Heaven soon!

Blessings and Peace,
Fr. Andy Booms
Pastor
frandyb@stbrigid-midland.org

July 2018

Already one full year has passed since I came to Saint Brigid Parish. I knew when I was moving it was a great community, but I can honestly say the year has exceeded my expectations. I am truly grateful for all who support me and are active in our faith community. I am blessed to be the Pastor and look forward to what God has in store for us in the future.

July brings with it the height of summer weather and fun! What is more fun than celebrating the 4th of July with a picnic and watermelon for dessert? Independence Day is a great opportunity for all of us to ask ourselves what is Freedom?

While Thomas Jefferson made an elegant case for political freedom in the Declaration of Independence and we continue to benefit from these freedoms in our country today, the freedom we long for is a gift from God.  Political freedoms can be changed or removed, but God gives us freedom that cannot be taken from us, although we can surrender it. As we pay tribute to the freedom our Founding Fathers defined nearly 250 years ago may we also remember the freedom God designed at the beginning of time. It is good to be free but it is better be a Saint. Every moment we are free to embrace God’s plan and stop fighting for independence from God and rely more and more on His care to lead and guide us.

The topic of freedom presented itself to me while completing a Spiritual exercise with a small group of men this spring.  The mantra of the program is to seek a more perfect Freedom. In the end I have come to recognize only I betray or surrender the freedom God gives me. I do this by thinking freedom is about what I should get or believing that other people have power over me. In all cases we are free to be Saints. No one can ever remove the freedom to be Saints. Saints are not attached to success now for Saints know the trials of life will pass and soon all will be revealed.

Peace and Blessings
Fr. Andy Booms

June 2018

Welcome to June and the fruit bearing season of our Easter Joy!  This year because Easter was quiet early all of June is outside the Easter Season.  We do have two days which are related to Easter to note however – the feast of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood and Christ, and the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Both of these are the final pieces of the Easter cycle.

Corpus Christi is June 3 – it is our annual celebration of the gift of the Eucharist and the dynamic role Jesus takes in our lives.  One custom which has not always been observed is to have a procession on Corpus Christi, that is to walk behind the Eucharist exposed in the Monstrance, rather to follow Jesus!  At Saint Brigid we are once again having a small procession, a reminder that the real presence is not just an object of adoration, but a dynamic presence in which Jesus offers himself for the whole Church. We can come to Jesus in the Eucharist anytime we need help discerning which way to go, or how to turn.

The Feast of the Sacred Hear of Jesus is the Friday after Corpus Christi, June 8 this year.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus is a Devotion that is intended to help us realize that Jesus is truly human, his heart, like ours can be broken and is the source of life.  We don’t have to be superhuman to approach Jesus, each 1st Friday is an opportunity to recall how we share vital organs with Jesus, and how approachable Jesus is in the Eucharist.

Later in the month at the height of daylight we also celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist.  This too is a Solemnity related to Christmas.  It is placed here in the height of summer and as days begin to shorten as a reminder that He, Jesus, must increase and we must decrease.  John’s birthday is one of three birthdays on our Liturgical Calendar, the others being Mary and Jesus.  Since it falls on a Sunday this year, we will get to celebrate it as a community.

Each of these celebrations are about helping us to bear fruit.  It’s a wonderful time of year when the first fruits of the harvest come in.  How sweet are those berries and fresh picked vegetables. How sweet too is the grace that God gives to us and enables us to share it with others.  Next time you bite a fresh strawberry, think of it as the sweetness you share with others when you act on your faith. Summer is a time of abundant blessings, even if not much time.  We have not even mentioned that we also remember dad on Father’s day this month too.  Men if you want to give your children a gift – share faith with them.  Despite the power of our mom to teach us and shape our understanding, if your dad practices his faith, it makes exponential impact on the likelihood you will practice faith.

Go out and grow and share the sweet news that God is in our midst!

Peace and Blessings,
Fr. Andy Booms

May 13, 2018

Today is Mother’s Day and we celebrate not only the gift of life that our Mother’s made possible (literally sharing their flesh and blood with us) but also the gift of faith which they instill in us.  As a Church we are drawn to honor the Blessed Virgin for those very reasons.  She was the first teacher of Jesus and continues to nurture, protect and guide his Mystical Body, the Church.  This is also the feast of the Ascension of the Lord.  His ascension is what makes it possible for all believers to be in His presence through the Sacraments.  Christ is now eternally present in Heaven, and where our head has gone, we will follow one day too!

Recently Pat Wise shared with me her plans to retire.  She will not be returning from leave, while we prepare job postings you can continue to expect to hear Alice Fitzgibbon on the phone.  She also has her own email afitzgibbon@stbrigid-midland.org you can reach out to her for bulletin announcements and anytime you have a question or need to schedule something here at St. Brigid.  I thank Pat for nearly 25 years of service and Alice for saying yes in this transition time.  I am also happy to share that Anne Marie continues to heal and recuperate at home. If you are willing to prepare a meal for her and Stephan you can sign up online or call Alice with questions.

Signs are not destinations. They may assist us in getting where we’re going, tell how far we’ve come or what to do next, but they’re not intended to be goals in themselves. Early Christians viewed certain signs as indicators of spiritual authority: the ability to heal, inspired speech, command of dark forces, or facing dangers without harm. Saint Paul warned us not to become enchanted with power for its own sake. Instead, we should consider the needs of the community and how best to serve. Name some modern signs that someone is demonstrating with genuine spiritual authority.

Blessings and Peace,
Fr. Andy Booms
Pastor
frandyb@stbrigid-midland.org

May 6, 2018

Thank you to the many who have already taken time to respond to this year’s CSA campaign. Your generous response will not only help our parish move closer to our goal of 100% participation, but enable us to build up the Church in our Diocese.  The programs and formation that comes from the Diocese is essential for us as a parish too.  With everyone giving what is reasonable for you we will no doubt surpass our goal and be able to look forward to a refund of the excess paid in the coming fiscal year.

Today is the completion of our Faith Formation Year following Mass.  Truly it takes many hands and heads and hearts to prepare and share our Faith with the next generation.  Thank you to all who volunteer for Sunday Dismissal, Youth Ministry and the our Sunday Faith Formation sessions.  We have been blessed, and your hard work has helped us conclude the year, with Anne Marie laid up.  Be sure to stop by the festive tables at the Pancake breakfast and thank the teachers and encourage our youth to keep learning more.

A big point of the scripture for today has to do with how Christians see love. It’s one thing to think of love as intimate relationship and another to remember that we have love because God loved us first, especially through Jesus. How has God loved me? In what ways do I feel loved by God? Since Pentecost is only 2 weeks away, you may even ask where do I most vividly sense the presence and work of the Holy Spirit?

Peace and Blessings,
Fr. Andy Booms
Pastor

April 29, 2018

This weekend we congratulate and welcome to the altar for the first time our newly confirmed youth.  I know there are many mixed feelings about the youth being confirmed at the tender age of 7 or 8, but the Sacrament is about receiving the graces of the Spirit.  In addition Confirmation is not equal to graduation.  The final Sacrament of Initiation is Eucharist, and we can repeat that 363 days a year.  These young boys and girls will need our continued support, prayers and example of conversion and responding to God’s grace.

I am happy to share the news that Laura Wilkowski has accepted the offer to be our next School Principal.  She is no stranger to the community, having taught for a year full time and 5 years before in our K-5 Science program.  I’m excited to work with her as we strive to offer the best education and environment where the seeds of God’s grace can grow!  Join me in congratulating her at an open house May 13 after our 11:30am Mass with Bishop Cistone.

The readings for this Sunday exude a sense of well-being, a kind of Easter confidence. Try to place yourself in this goodness as you hear or reread today’s scripture. How does God’s Spirit console me? Where do I find consolation in myself, my colleagues, my community? In what ways has God overcome my doubts, fears, and mistakes and filled me with reassurance?

Peace and Blessings,
Fr. Andy Booms