Friday, November 30, 2012

Dancing in the Classroom

This year St. Columbkille is one of two Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese to work with Dancing Classrooms.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, instructors are coming to the 5th grade class rooms to teach dance to the students to achieve social awareness and build self-esteem.

Students are taught the vocabulary of various contemporary social dances in a classroom setting. Each class in the series introduces new steps, reinforcing what has been previously learned through practice and repetition.

After ten weeks the culmination of this experience is a  showcase where every child will perform. For now, we'll give a glimpse of where they are starting.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Theology on Tap?

I happened to see a Dos Equis beer truck as I was driving out of the church parking lot one day. On the truck's side was the beer company's ad slogan: "Stay thirsty, my friends."

Perhaps because I was just leaving from Mass, I had my mind less on beer and more on spiritual things. When I read "Stay thirsty, my friends," I took it as an unconventional yet personal invitation from God, a reference to the deep longing we all have, a thirst, that only He can satisfy.

In the Old Testament, Psalm 63 poetically refers to this ancient thirst:

"O God, you are my God, for You I long;
for You my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for You
like a dry, weary land without water."

And Jesus spoke of our thirst to the Samaritan woman at the well, a story recorded in chapter 4 of John's Gospel.

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God and Who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

He further tells her: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Elsewhere in John's Gospel, chapter 7, Jesus says: “Let anyone who thirsts come to Me and drink."

He refreshes us and sustains us with the gift of Living Water, the Holy Spirit. Yet Jesus has a deep yearning, too. For you and me.

"I thirst," He said on the cross.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta understood Christ's words to have a deeper meaning than physical thirst, that He thirsts for souls to save and that we should thirst for these souls, too. As a reminder, Mother Teresa's religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, have placed the words "I thirst" on the walls of all of their chapels.

The Missionaries of Charity Fathers have a prayer on their Web site called "I Thirst for You." Jesus speaks to us in the prayer. The following is a portion of it:

"I Thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I THIRST FOR YOU. I Thirst to love you and to be loved by you -- that is how precious you are to Me. I THIRST FOR YOU. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials. I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give Me your life -- and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart."

If your heart feels heavy, restless or unsatified with the world, try a sip of the Living Water that Jesus offers. Go deeper in prayer with God, especially this Advent. You will keep quenching your thirst by bringing others to Him, a natural part of living your faith.

Interestingly, as I pulled up behind that beer truck, it had another irresistible invitation from God: "Follow closely. Interesting things will happen."

Amen to that.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this about exporing and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fr. Flanagan Asked for Our Help

In 1916 Sr. Celestine Nordhus, OSB was sent to start a school six miles from Omaha at St. Columbkille in Papillion. It was to be a boarding school, but it was behind in construction. For the first two months classes were held in the church where students would sit on the kneelers and use the pew seats for benches. In October the they were able to move into the new building, pictured above.

In November, a young priest brought Edward Clark, a little neglected, homeless boy to see the Sisters as the first boarder. Sr. Celestine was deeply impressed. She said, "It was my first meeting with Father Flanagan. After I opened the door and saw the kind, lovable young priest I guessed immediately what his purpose was. He said, 'If it is ever in my power, I will some day make a home for boys like this one.'"

Thirteen months later Boystown began and Ed Clark moved there. For years afterwards, our boarding school provided overflow for Boystown so that when they were full, some boys would come to our school.

On St. Patrick's Day this year Archbishop Lucas announced the intention of opening a cause for possible beautification of Edward J. Flanagan and declared Flanagan a Servant of God.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Construction Week

This week daily Masses are being held in the Social Level of the church to allow a number of projects to get done. Those include work on the rail by the choir, replacing the motors on the blinds (it should be done every 30 years) and brick work for our added seating area.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Giving Tree

In the Commons of the church, you will find our “Giving Tree”. We join with other churches and organizations in our community to provide NEW clothing and toys to hundreds of children at the Sarpy County Christmas Center.

The parents of these children will be able to attend the Center and, with the help of a volunteer, choose two toys and a new item of clothing for each of their children. Last year, the Christmas Center was able to help 836 children and 154 teens from 355 families. The ornaments on the “Giving Tree” identify toys, clothing and gift certificates (gift certificates are for the teens). These items can range in price from $5 - $35. You may take as many ornaments as you wish or simply shop for your own gifts in these price ranges.

Unwrapped gifts are then returned to the church this weekend. We will also collect some food items, personal care items and donations for the Tri-City Food Pantry that serves these families. Supermarket gift certificates will also be collected. Remember that gift certificates can be purchased through the C.A.R.E. volunteers after all Masses.

If you do not want to purchase gifts this year, we also have the opportunity to donate to the following two funds: Sarpy County Adult Crisis Fund, which is used to meet the needs of local seniors for rent, utilities, medications, etc., and Sarpy County Children’s Fund, which is used to purchase additional toys needed for the Christmas Center.

Our parish has been supporting this project for many years. Our neighbors who receive your gifts are so very grateful. You touch the lives of so many children and their families.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christ the King - on our tabernacle

[After our current construction] the new tabernacle will sit between the new chapel and the present church. It is being built of the same granite being used in the new altar and ambo. The tabernacle will have doors facing both the church and the chapel.

On the door facing the chapel we will be attempting something quite unique. We are planning on painting an image, taken from the Book of Kells, on a piece of brass. The image is that of Christ enthroned in heaven and may have been originally painted in the 6th or 7th century. The image is on our bulletin today. The interior of the door will have an image of an angel from Fra Angelico.

So, why the image from the Book of Kells you ask? The Book of Kells is Ireland’s greatest national art treasure. It is an illuminated manuscript that presents a Latin translation of the Four Gospels accompanied by a dazzling array of decorative ornamentation, iconography and illustration.

The book is named after the Abbey of Kells in County Meath, Ireland where it is believed that monks from the order of St. Columbkille created its pages. There is a good historical argument that St. Columbkille himself did some of the manuscript and illustration. Which pages and images were done by him is not clear, but it is within the realm of possibility the image of Christ we are painting on the door of the tabernacle was done by Columbkille himself, since similar images began to appear in the fourth century. Most scholars believe the majority of the Book of Kells was done to commemorate the anniversary of St. Columbkille’s death. Most believe, too, that the book was begun at the monastery in Iona and then finished at Kells.

The book has had an interesting history. In the Annals of Ulster from the year 1007, we read, “the great Gospel of Columbkille, the chief relic of the Western Word, was wickedly stolen during the night from the western sacristy of the great stone church at Kells on account of its wrought shrine.” The book was found two months later buried under sod with its gold cover missing. It was transferred to Trinity College in Dublin in the 17th century where it remains to this day.

This image of Christ from the Book of Kells contains peacocks which are a symbol of eternal life because of the ancient belief that dead peacocks did not rot. Plus, there is the dazzling display of color in a peacock’s feathers that speak of majesty. The chalice in the image is a symbol of the Eucharist, the vines are symbols of Christ’s lineage as the Son of Man going back to Adam and the “true Israel,” he seated on a throne to symbolize his role as judge, four angels surround the throne to attest to his divine majesty, he holds the Word of God, and the entire image is framed by coils with three levels to symbolize the Trinity.

- Fr Damian, From his bulletin letter

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Cabinets Arrived

This week the cabinets arrived
for the new sacristy.

They arrived as the electiricians were just finishing pulling some of the electrical lines for the room.

Even today, the work continues.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Second Grade Reading Program

Tuesday the second grade classes held their first Reading Program. There was a chance for every student to read during the program.

The audience was delighted by the program.

There were even cookies afterwards.

It was a lot of fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Be the One in Ten

Jesus healed a group of ten lepers, but only one returned to thank Him, we learn in chapter 17 of Luke's Gospel.

"He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, 'Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?' Then He said to him, 'Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.' "

It is worth noting that throughout the Gospel outsiders often show us the ways of faith. Sometimes in our own lives, we tend to not appreciate those closest to us, including God. Thanksgiving shouldn't be reserved for just a holiday, it should be part of our daily lives of faith. And like all graces, it is a gift from our Lord. Let's ask Him to help us to grow in thankfulness. The following practices can help:

1. Go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. You may recall that the word Eucharist comes from the Greek language and means "thanksgiving." The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is our highest prayer, and the Eucharist is the best means we have to drawing close to Christ. The Mass is offered daily. Go as often as possible. It will transform you.

2. Pray for humility. That may seem like a dangerous prayer, but sanctity requires humility. It makes us grow in gratitude. A humble heart sees that all good things come not from us but from the hand of God.

3. Give to the poor. When we have less, we appreciate more. Shed yourself of excess material things that are obstacles to God.

4. Spend time caring for the less fortunate. It will open your eyes to see how blessed you are. And you serve Jesus Himself, disguised in the poor and needy.

5. Say Grace at meal times. This prayer of blessing reminds us that God nourishes and sustains us in our daily lives.

Thanks be to God!

Inspired by this Year of Faith we will be posting columns like this about exporing and/or deepening our faith. Watch for it on Thursdays.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast

Yesterday the Kindergarten students at St. Columbkille Catholic School dressed as Indians or Pilgrims before they enjoyed a Thanksgiving Feast together.

Fr Vogel even stopped by to visit.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Fr. Vogel

Today some students at St. Columbkille Catholic School sang to Fr. Vogel:

Delivering Thanksgiving

As we approach Thanksgiving, there are many families who are unable to put together a traditional Thanskgiving meal. With that in mind, parishioners worked together to make a more joyful celebration for others. Students in our Relgious Formation Program, Sacred Heart Preschool and St. Columbkille Catholic School donated food items.

On Friday some of our 8th grade students transported these items to the Social Level.

Saturday those items were joined with Turkeys and some more food bought from the Thanksgiving Meals collection after Mass earlier this month as well as some generous parish organizations.

These were then sorted to be boxed in groups.

Last night families gathered to deliver the assembled items. They were given instructions and prayed before they got to work.
Food was supplied to over 1,000 people in over 300 families. Our parishioners delivered all of the food in a few short hours not just to people in Papillion and La Vista, but to families from Gretna to Bellevue and even Springfield.
Thank you to all our good stewards!