God’s Will Be Done

God blesses us with different insights when we read very familiar scripture verses. In a recent Sunday reading, while I have read it many times, something dawned on me which I had never thought of before.

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him. . . Lk. 2:2.33

When taking Jesus to the temple for purification, an old man named Simeon approached Mary and Joseph and as he gazed at the baby said, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Lk.2:29-32. Through the Holy Spirit, Simeon knew that he would live to see the Son of God.

When reading this I thought maybe Mary and Joseph were not only amazed, as the scripture verse above states but perhaps frightened. Two complete strangers approach them in the Temple, Simeon and later Anna and proclaim the baby as the son of God, the long awaited Madonna and ChildMessiah. Did they think that the baby’s identity was a secret and would not be revealed until he was an adult or at least not until he began his ministry.  Did they wonder how many more people know that their precious baby is the Son of God? If these two people in the Temple knew, with how many more people did God share this secret?  How would they be able to protect him?

From the beginning of this pregnancy, Mary and Joseph trusted God. They did not understand but they accepted God’s plan for them and their son. They had absolute trust in God’s will. They knew that their baby would be safe because of their faith in God. Their faith led them to believe that God would provide them with the strength and the wisdom to deal with whatever came their way while raising His son.

Dear Lord, let me place my trust in you just as Mary and Joseph did. Give me a strong faith that will allow me to accept your will and not to worry about things that I have no control over. Reinforce this trust, faith and acceptance of your plan for my life.

Cathy O’Toole

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

            (This year on the Liturgical Calendar the Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve.  It is a compressed week.)

Last year in 2016 at this time, I was a mess.

My husband and I were running around, trying to find presents for all of our friends and family, baking cookies for the neighbors, visiting with everyone coming back to Cincinnati for the holidays, watching every Christmas movie under the sun, to make it all absolutely perfect…all while I was 3 months pregnant, exhausted and desperate for Frisch’s onion rings.

It was a weird time.

The excitement of the pregnancy made the holiday celebrations even more meaningful than usual as people expressed their joy at the soon-to-be arrival of our little one. But at the same time, my drive to make Christmas “perfect” as I had strived to do for years, made it all that much more difficult. I remember feeling paralyzed as we unearthed the Christmas decorations (multiple mounds of them), and feeling like it was just too much to try and put it all up. But I felt like I had to as I thought, “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without XYZ decoration!” And so we did all of the things that would make the season “wonderful” – wrapped all of our presents perfectly, provided the perfect side dishes for all of our family gatherings, created the most perfect card to send out, and put every ornament in a perfect place on the tree. And by January 1, we were drained.

Fast forward to 2017.

Our baby girl is now 6-months old, exploring her world and growing by leaps and bounds each day. It’s an exciting time with LOTS of firsts! But I have to say one of the most surprising things for me as a new mom is that Christmas has felt “different” this year, and not necessarily in the sense I expected. What I EXPECTED was that I would create the “perfect” Christmas for her, she would stare at our Christmas tree ornaments with wide eyes and a smile, be fascinated with a big man in a bright red suit and play with wrapping paper next to me as I meticulously covered each edge and corner of a gift. It would be like a storybook. What I GOT instead was this overwhelming feeling to protect her from the overabundance of it all.

My husband and I both agreed to take a break from putting up our boxes upon boxes of decorations, we put up our tree with a few of our favorite ornaments, displayed our manger scene and decided to make most of our gifts instead of urgently shopping around for presents. Now don’t get me wrong, part of our reasons for making these decisions included sleep deprivation, a tighter budget and unpredictable diaper changes, but let me tell you – finally – the Christmas season feels GOOD. By not emphasizing all the other “stuff” that we typically do, we have found ourselves more immersed in the celebration of Advent not only at mass each week, but also at home. We’re actually taking the time to read our little blue book, use our Advent calendar and are specifically setting aside time for ourselves to spend quality time together as a family. It has inspired us to really embrace the beauty of preparation, the hope it inspires and the ultimate destiny it fulfills – Jesus’ birth, of course, but also our entrance into heaven one day.

While some people would certainly say that the deep joy we are experiencing this season is due to having a new baby – and yes, certainly, there is a lot of joy in that! – I would venture to say that the deep joy we are experiencing is due to taking the time to really reflect on and enjoy what this season is all about with our new baby. It has made me realize that we don’t need all of the stuff to make Advent and Christmas wonderful. We just need each other, our love for one another and the opportunity to spread glad tidings of great joy to the family, friends and community around us.

My husband and I have both decided to continue with our “toned down” Christmas in future years. As it is our job as parents to prepare our daughter, and any other future siblings she may have, the importance of being selfless, giving and loving others, we feel it starts here. What an opportunity to show our daughter and our future children the difference between God’s love and the false allure of the materials of this world. Jesus was born amongst livestock and wrapped in some rags. Why would I ever think that Christmas should be about all the “stuff?” Because truth bomb: all of that stuff doesn’t make us happy. The presents. The cookies. The decorations. The cards. Trying to perfect all of it only made the season miserable, exhausting and overwhelming to me, yet year after year I would do it again. And the one year we decided not to? Well. . .

It’s been a most blessed season.

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of God shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.  The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there was a great multitude of the heavenly host with an angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.  Lk 2: 9-14

Mandy Geyman and Lucy Mandy and Lucy

 

The Third Week in Advent

Third Sunday of adventI have been blessed to have taken 4 pilgrimages to the Holy Land. My first 3 though prevented me from going to the site of the Visitation because my arthritic knees would not permit me to climb the hills. Even the thought of walking those hills to get the Church of the Visitation made me cringe.

When I think of Mary traveling to be with her cousin Elizabeth in Judah, I imagine how difficult that journey up those hills must have been for her. She was a young woman and while I am sure she had good knees, she was in her early stages of pregnancy. As I thought about Mary making the journey from Nazareth to the hills of Judah (about 90 miles) walking and/or riding on a donkey suffering from symptoms of possibly nausea, headaches, backaches and tiredness, I was amazed at her self-sacrifice. She was determined to get to her cousin Elizabeth to help her in her time of need.

Elizabeth was an old woman who was likely suffering similar symptoms to Mary’s and she may have even had worn out knees. She was very near to giving birth to her son, John the Baptist, and Mary had to get there to assist her through her pregnancy and to help her with her newborn son. She put herself aside to help her cousin. No wonder God selected this woman to raise his son. She was selfless.

Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Lk. 1-39

VisiationI finally made it to the Church of the Visitation at the top of the Judean Hills (see the picture to the right) on my last pilgrimage and was awestruck looking out over the scene. It was not only one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen but knowing what happened there made me more conscious of focusing on other people instead of my own troubles. The view along with this  reminder was well worth the wait.

Dear Lord, help me to always put others in need first as Mary, Your Mother did. Don’t let me trip over my own problems on the way to helping others, particularly as I look around at this time of the year and see so many others who require help.

Cathy O’Toole

 

 

First Sunday of Advent

“What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Mk. 13:37

 This time of the year we are likely to be making lists and checking them twice.  There is much to do in the next few weeks.  From shopping for presents and wrapping them, writing cards to people we long to stay in touch with, decorating the house inside and out, baking, planning menus, sending invitations, planning parties and perhaps even arranging trips to visit family and friends out of town. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season.

As St. Mark reminds us in his gospel on the first Sunday or Advent is, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.”  In other words, don’t lose sight of the true meaning of this season.  I know you may be thinking, yet one more thing to worry about.  But, if it wasn’t for the birth of Jesus, there would be no Christmas; no parties, no cards, no trips to be with family, and most importantly, no Savior.

So when you and your family make ready for this holiday, focus on the true meaning and prepare your hearts to receive our Savior.  Go to Mass, Reconciliation and light your Advent Wreath each week. Pray each day and reflect on your prayers.  Watch, wait and prepare.  He will be here before you know it.  Will you be ready?

Dear Lord, do not let me lose the meaning of this season in the busyness of the holidays.  Let me focus my time, energy and talents where it matters, on the birth of your Son.  

single candle                 Cathy O’Toole

If Not For My Presence, How Lonely, My Lord, Would You Be?

A Trip to the Adoration Chapel

January 30, 2015

I entered and knelt down,
Saw one other there,
But he soon crossed himself and left.
Hearing no other sound,
I thought, “Is this fair?”
Of companions, your house: bereft.

If not for my presence,
Had I not been here,
How lonely, My Lord, would you be?
Not bread: Divine Essence,
Knowing lonely fear;
Remembering Gethsemane?

So I stayed an hour,
And with you in prayer
Of chalices which must be sipped.
I still recall the pow’r
The love and the care,
Your arms around me as you gripped.

See maybe it’s not wrong
That no one else came
To spend time with you on that night.
You and I for that long,
All love and no shame;
One to one with my Light from Light.

 

Reprinted from Ascension Press

Please join us for an hour in Adoration at St. Andrew Church on

Wednesday, July 3, 2017 from 10 am to 5 PM.

Do Whatever He Tells You. Jn. 2 :5

At the Wedding Feast at Cana the guests were enjoying themselves when the wine ran out. As a result, the wedding couple would have been thought of as inhospitable until Jesus stepped in at the urging of his mother and performed his first miracle at this wedding feast by providing additional wine so the celebration would continue.

Years ago Terri and Bob Mackey decided it would be nice to celebrate the joy of their wedding anniversary with other parishioners.  So they secured a list of parishioners that were having milestone anniversaries and invited them to dinner at the Parish Center. They felt it was important to provide a way to remind parishioners that marriage is a vocation, a lifelong commitment and a way of life.

Mackeys

They invited couples who were celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries from their 1st, 2nd, 5th, 10th, 25th and 40 or more to come and celebrate with them. Fifteen years later, the Anniversary Dinner is something married couples look forward to at St. Andrew.

This year, 40 couples gathered on May 7, 2017 for prayer led by Pastor, Fr. Michael Cordier followed by an Italian dinner, conversation and lots of fun. See photos below.

The meal of appetizers, salad, bread, lasagna and desserts were prepared and served by St. Andrew parishioners.

It is always fun recognizing the couple who have been married the longest and this year, Jack & Ruth Rugh were the longest married couple celebrating their 71st Wedding Anniversary!  RUGHS

Everyone has a great time, so when you get your invitation in the future…

                        be sure to mark your calendar and call the Parish Office! 

 

The Words of Everlasting Life

Each Sunday in preparation for becoming Catholic, all RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) members are dismissed from Mass after the Homily. They leave for the Breaking Open the Word or to discuss the Gospel for the day and the meaning of those words.

Breaking Open the Word is as fulfilling for me as for the participants.  It’s a joy to get to spread God’s Word to them. To explain what it means to be Catholic. These discussions help to alleviate their fears of joining this faith.  Many people enter with preconceived notions concerning Catholicism. When they experience the warmth and camaraderie of RCIA, they realize how inaccurate their prior beliefs were.  They are, then, open and even eager to learn more.  Their joy is infectious and reinforces my Catholicism too. For those who have been holding back for whatever reason,  join us for just one session.  It will be enough to make you to want to come back to learn more.

Dear Lord, I pray that our daily living may transform our suffering world into a place of love, justice and peace.  May the Word guide us in our daily lives.

Kevin Rinn is lifelong Catholic, married with 2 children.  He has been a parishioner for 16Kevin Rinn years and on the RCIA Team for 5 years.  He works at the Children’s Home of Cincinnati as the Facilities and IT Director.

Come and Follow Me!

My name is McKenna Wulker and I’m 24 years old. I work as a Records Analyst at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP in downtown Cincinnati. I am just now coming into the Catholic Church and was confirmed and made my first communion on the Easter Vigil.

I was baptized at St. Andrew as an infant, but did not complete any Catholic Education or receive sacraments beyond that. It wasn’t until I graduated college, had a best friend pass away, and ended a two year relationship that I found myself at a complete crossroads in my life. I had no direction, felt hopeless and confused about where my life was going and ultimately decided to rededicate my life to God, give up my control to God’s Will and complete my Catholic Education to enter the church.

I met with Deacon Tim in June to discuss how adults entered the church, a week early for my appointment; I guess I was too eager. We discussed my options and next steps which turned out to be RCIA. I have attended RCIA, Rite of Christian Initiation in Adulthood, since September in preparation to come into the Church.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, RCIA is the process through which candidates and catechumens enter the Church, learn about Catholic religion and the Church’s teachings, and discern if this is the right path for them. Normally, this all happens when you are a child, but for people who didn’t experience the rites in childhood or are converting to the Catholic Faith, this process is mandatory.

I have learned so much in RCIA and gained a fantastic faith community through the other candidates and the RCIA support team. I encourage anyone who is trying to get involved to become a member of the RCIA team and support the candidates entering the Church. It’s a great learning experience for even the most experienced Catholic.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

McKenna Wulker

Mc Kenna was initiated at the Easter Vigil.  We look forward to her joining our community she will certainly be an asset.  When you see her, please be sure to welcome her and encourage her to participate actively in our parish.

God Bless you McKenna and welcome to St. Andrew, the Apostle Church!