This Is Us

After many outstanding reviews from some friends, I finally caved and started watching the new show “This Is Us.” People had been telling me that it was “actually deep” and a “real” show, unlike most of the ones we see while flipping through the channels nowadays.

I was hooked after the first episode. Whoever came up with the plot is just plain brilliant. I knew the characters for only 30 minutes and I was already crying! Now of course, like most shows, there are some decisions the characters make that are not in line with Catholic teaching, but the show portrays real life issues and struggles that we all face. You either like what you see or you learn from it, as my mom would say.

“This Is Us” is about a young couple who’s pregnant with triplets and the struggles they face on their journey as first-time parents. That’s all I will say regarding the plot because I don’t want to be the one to spoil it for you!

Now I am only nine episodes in, but something has really stood out to me from this show. As they go back and forth from present to past, slowly you start putting together the pieces to a much larger puzzle. You begin to see how every decision a character made affected everyone else. You get to see how someone giving up their baby affected another couple’s struggling marriage, and how someone mourning the loss of his wife can affect a young couple who lost a baby.

From reflecting on this show, it made me think about how intertwined my own life is with so many others and how each of my actions affect so many people in ways that I will never know on this side of heaven. Our smallest actions, whether positive or negative, can change the entire future of another person.

I am a firm believer that God puts everyone in our lives for a reason and, like this show, we may not be able to put together all the pieces of the puzzle, until we are seeing it played back with Jesus by our side. Only then will we be able to finally see how we have affected every other person that we have encountered. Every one of our words and actions have a ripple effect.

So, the question we should ask ourselves is this: What kind of waves are we making on this earth?

–Tricia

Tricia and Nikki Walz are proud Minnesotans who were born and raised in the heart of St. Cloud with their younger sister Briana. Read more about them on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

 

Jesus, Remember Me

This simple refrain from my childhood has drifted in and out, in repetition, with pressing urgency this Lenten season.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom…Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom….”

I can still hear it sung by a full choir up in the loft of the spacious church in my hometown where I grew from infant to young woman. Attached to the song sits a vivid memory from my teen years. A memory of a Good Friday filled with somber movements, prayerfulness and stark reality. As I knelt in my pew after veneration of the Cross and bowed my head in prayer, I felt no emotion besides an empty space in my being. My head suddenly lifted, and as it did it, met a most visible witness of the Good Friday commemoration. An older man, a parishioner at my parish for all my years, slowly walked back to his pew from venerating the Cross. As he neared, I saw his bowed head. The anguish and sorrow on his face nearly consumed him as he struggled back to his pew with tears sliding down his face. A pain stabbed into me and the imprint of that moment stamped itself on my heart.

As a grown woman, that moment never ceases to prod a tender space within me. I don’t know that I ever again meditated on Jesus’ passion and death with the same immaturity of my youth. Each Good Friday, the picture comes back into focus as I walk the aisle, now with my own children, hoping to capture the sacredness. There was a lot that man showed me that day as he humbly and unintentionally shared his relationship with Jesus. Seeing with my own eyes another person’s deep faith challenged me to seek the connectivity I may have been missing with Jesus at that time in my life. It’s the same way that Lent tends to be a season of redefining my connection with Christ as I try to reexamine my dependency and need for him. I’m led shame faced to the foot of the cross where He hangs for love of me, remembering him who I ask to remember me.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom…”

Jesus, draw us closer to you as we walk along this Lenten journey. Let us not lose heart in our Lenten failings, but stay steady on the course and be persistent in prayer and sacrifice. Lead us deeper into the relationship with you that draws us closer to your side. May we be like Simon of Cyrene, when pressed into service we take up the cross even if at first we don’t understand why or how to do so.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

St. Paddy’s Corned Beef Reuben Spread

Faith and Begorrah! If you love Reuben sandwiches, you are going to thank your lucky stars for this easy recipe!

My longtime favorite Corned Beef Reuben spread came to mind when I read that Bishop Donald Kettler granted a St. Patrick’s Day dispensation from the Lenten Friday obligation to abstain from eating meat because the Irish saint’s feast day — March 17 — falls on a Friday this year.

Usually I serve this warm, appetizing concoction with slices of old-fashioned dark pumpernickel or cocktail rye but it is also a delectable dip for crackers or chips. If you are into the “wearing of the green,” top with fresh, finely chopped shamrocks. (No, just kidding.)

It is delicious when prepared grilled cheese sandwich-style between two pieces of buttered pumpernickel or seeded rye. I’ve tried the cold leftovers spread on a tortilla, rolled up and sliced for pinwheel appetizers — refrigerating them rolled up in waxed paper or plastic wrap for a few hours or overnight makes for easier cutting.

I think the mixture would be great on top of a toasted everything bagel or baked potato. It could become a pierogi or lasagna filling, stuffing for a savory puff pastry or deep-fried in an egg roll. I haven’t tried preparing a Rachel version with pastrami or deli turkey but believe either of those would be “top of the morning, afternoon or evening” tasty, as well.

Dreaming of the possibilities for enjoying it could be nearly as much fun as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow or having three wishes granted by a leprechaun!

St. Paddy’s Corned Beef Reuben Spread
By Carol O’Jessen-Klixbull
(Who doesn’t love being Irish for a day?)

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweet Bavarian style sauerkraut with caraway seeds (do not drain)
3/4 pound corned beef (sliced at deli)
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
1 (4 oz.) jar horseradish sauce

Combine the softened cream cheese with the sauerkraut. Rough chop the corn beef and add it with the Swiss cheese. Stir in the dressing and horseradish sauce.

Spoon mixture into either a slow cooker or a casserole (grease container with non-stick cooking spray.) For slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 45 minutes or until mixture is hot and cheese is melted. For casserole, bake in preheated oven at 350°F for 35 to 45 minutes or until mixture is hot and cheese is melted.

Serve with dark pumpernickel or rye bread, crackers or pretzel chips.

Yield: 6 cups

A note from Carol:

According to canon law, when feast days fall on Fridays during Lent (as is the case this year with St. Patrick’s Day), the local bishop can make the decision to grant a dispensation so that Catholics can fully participate in the celebration. As I mentioned earlier, this year Bishop Kettler granted a dispensation for the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud. 

I also want to share that Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl recipes are not only interesting to try during Lent but are a good reminder for us that many throughout the world are challenged by hunger and poverty. The program focuses on a different country for each week of Lent — providing stories, prayers and information to help us connect with some of those who are most in need, as the money saved from preparing these simple meals can be donated to this special Lenten program. The Visitor has featured Rice Bowl recipes from India, Zambia and El Salvador so far this year.

Carol Jessen-Klixbull is a copy editor at The Visitor. She is a former Family and Consumer Science teacher who has a passion for all things “food.”

 

“Have fun storming the castle!”

“Have fun storming the castle!”

And with those words my wife bade me adieu as I went to work.

It doesn’t help that I was listening to “The Lord of the Rings” on tape as I commute. Frodo and Sam were in Shelob’s lair, and the darkness and oppression of her cave are descriptive of the weather on leaving the house. Oh well, as Sam says: “Now for it.”

The days are warming up (in the 30s and 40s, *above* zero) and the nights are in the 20s. This can only mean two things: it’s Lent, and the sap is running in the trees!

For the last few years I have made modest amounts of maple syrup from our modest amounts of sugar maple trees. The first time I did it I honestly thought that I had witnessed a miracle. Some 10 hours of boiling gallons of sap yielded a couple of pints of amber looking fluid. One taste told part of the tale, and the faces on the kids who tasted it told the rest of the story: it was indescribably wonderful!

I was a Log Cabin man before this. What was good enough for my childhood was good enough for my adulthood. But it was time to put away childish things, and it was time to read the label on the bottle! Fercryinoutloud there’s no maple in the blasted thing!

I don’t have professional equipment. All I have is the kitchen stove, a big soup pot and some big sauce pans and some five gallon buckets. There are only about six or seven sap-producing maples on my land so if I get a 10 gallons of syrup I’m doing well. Start boiling early, and finish up late. The first 10 hours of boiling is boring. The evaporation rate on a stove is tedious. I’ve heard that boiling sap in the kitchen will take the wallpaper off the walls, but since my wife wants to replace the wallpaper in our kitchen I think I’m doing us a favor!

It’s that last hour of boiling, when the remaining sap is near the syrup point. The sap lingers at a point just before that for some time. Then BAM! It’s there and you’ve got to move fast! So in that long steamy day I get the bottles and lids ready for that BAM moment.

What, you may be asking yourself, has this got to do with Lent?  I’m reminded of John 15 when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  We’re like trees waiting to be tapped, but not so that the sap flows out, but so that His sap, His love, flows in and abides in us.  During this Lent I feel myself like a dormant tree, slowly awakening from a wintry slumber and looking forward to the refreshment of Spring.  We are Easter people; recovering from His Passion and overflowing with his merciful love. I pray that our branches do not wither and die, but rather bear the fruit of His love to share with others.

But for now, I’m still waiting for the drip and trickle flow of sap from those spouts.

Stephen Miller
-Member of St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish, Long Prairie.
-Not a native Minnesotan.
-Not a cradle Catholic.
-Former Librarian.
-Likes kids, somewhat baffled by adults.
-Married to the smartest and most beautiful woman in the world with whom we have six astonishing children.

What is the origin of the Apostles’ Creed?

What is the origin of the Apostles’ Creed?

Well, we might answer, the Apostles of course!  My thoughts exactly, but how did it come about?

Our common understanding permits us to accept the legend that yes, the 12 Apostles did in fact write the Creed on the day of Pentecost. There being 12 principles in the Creed, it could be assumed that each of the 12 Apostles supplied one of the tenets.
The Apostles’ Creed is used in our Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and many Protestant churches as well. However, it is not recognized in the Eastern Orthodox churches. Again, according to tradition, it was composed by the 12 Apostles. However, it may have actually developed from early interrogations of catechumens preparing to be baptized (interestingly, the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, which is a step in those desiring to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church is being celebrated today, March 5, at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 3 p.m.)
The bishop would ask the candidates “Dost thou believe in God the Father almighty?” and so forth continuing with the major Christian beliefs. Answered positively, these statements of faith became a creed. Such creeds were known and still are today as the baptismal creed. The candidates nowadays are generally infants in the Catholic Church and these questions are answered by the parents, godparents and all present at the baptism of a child.
The present text of the Apostles’ Creed is similar to the earlier baptismal creed used by the Roman church in the 3rd and 4th centuries. It reached its final form in France in the late 6th century. It gradually replaced all other baptismal creeds and became the official statement of faith of the entire Catholic Church in the West.
So, the creed that we pray every day has a rich and historical past dating way back to the days of the first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostle’s. And it has a rich and fruitful future as new members of the church are baptized.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this in article 1274:  “This Creed is the spiritual seal, our hearts’ meditation, and our ever present guardian; it is, unquestionably, the treasure of our soul.”
The Nicene Creed, generally prayed during Sunday Mass is the subject for another blog in the future. 
DEACON STEVE YANISH
Deacon Steve is a husband, father, grandfather and (semi)retired nursing home chaplain who is currently serving as deacon at St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell.

Lent Approaches — Fear Not

With merely a couple of calendar flips behind us from Christmas, it appears that Lent is upon us. Was that a sigh I heard? It’s OK, I’ve done it, too. Not that I don’t care for the penitential season, but I have had my share of Lenten grievances, rather than embraces, in the past.

It’s just that it’s SO HARD. Yes, it is. Why? Because I am human, I am less than perfect and resisting things in this fast paced, self centered, “needs” based world in which we live is hard. I’m used to having things because quite simply, they are there. They are there for me to have. But wait, is Lent really about giving up food and stuff? Not hardly. Not that it’s a bad idea to offer up some type of sacrifice or ‘giving up’ something as we were maybe taught back when we were younger, but we can also challenge ourselves in other ways.

What about doing something extra? What about embracing the sacrifice of even the smallest task (or person) God puts in front of you each day, without so much as a grumble? And what about some extra prayer and quiet time with Jesus? Or even just begin, if you haven’t already made the time, making time for daily prayer. These six weeks aren’t meant as a time of torture, misery and gloomy faces missing their sweets and Friday hamburger. They are here for us, hidden within the ordinary time to serve a purpose.

What is that purpose? Well, obviously it is time for fasting, prayer and sacrifice. It’s the days and weeks when we respond to all that Jesus did for us and they lead up to the holiest week of the Church year.

How I decide to engage in Lent, or what God calls me to this Lent may be vastly different than what he asks of you. Approaching the season with intention and purpose may be a great idea, but also leave some room for God to act and put before you other ways He wants to guide your weeks ahead.

Your season of life and your vocation may not lend itself to a Lenten retreat, daily Mass or even attending stations of the cross with your parish community. Sometimes we need to be creative when thinking of ways to engage fully in a season such as Lent rather than dismissively writing it off due to certain issues that arise for us, or counting on “just doing it next week since Lent is six weeks after all.”

At home, we’ve been known to light extra votive candles while praying a couple of stations of the cross a few evenings a week. We may add in some extra prayer time to our normal evening routine. Along with maybe opting out of a certain food item or sweets, we may each find some other offering unique to only us as we feel called to embrace for this season. I even try to keep simple reminders of the season on the dining table or another place in the living room. Instead of jumping into spring flowers, Easter bunnies and eggs, I’ve used rocks, votive candles, a crucifix and a purple fabric table runner as a decorative focus instead. Again, this is fighting the norm of all that surrounds us on a daily basis, but it also calls us to a focus on Jesus and not on the comforts of our normal everyday life.

Lent is a penitential season, so going to confession or an extra Mass during the week, spending time in Eucharistic adoration, and time spent in prayer are great steps toward deeper growth. Find a spiritual book you can easily pick up and ponder. It doesn’t need to be wordy and heavy, maybe just something that gives you a meditation and short prayer to ponder. Many of our parishes will have these types of books awaiting us near some doorway or gathering space if we look for them.

While Lent can be a time to challenge and stretch us, it’s not necessarily only beneficial if you dive into it with a “go big or go home” attitude. If that’s the way you feel you are being called to practice Lent 2017, good for you! If not, fear not. No matter how big or small the sacrifice, God will bless it and use it for good, whether for you or for another. It’s not a one day competition. It’s a six week journey that leads us to the foot of the cross and to Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice. He’ll meet you there.

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”

– Pope Francis

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.