Welcome to St. Anthony, St. Margaret, 
and Sacred Heart Catholic Churches

Niagara, Pembine, and Aurora Wisconsin


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8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Fr. Matt on February 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (3)

Fr. Matt’s Corner: … Even should she forget

          Blessings to all of you, my dear friends in Christ. Ready or not, Lent is right around the corner (Oh, if only we could say the same about milder temperatures), and it’s time to get our foreheads smudged this Wednesday. Lent is a time in which we especially strive to seek first the Kingdom of God – it’s a time to reorient, strengthen, and reprioritize our lives.

          Practically speaking, we do this through those 3 Lenten practices proposed to us by Mother Church: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. We fast in order to pray; we pray in order to become more charitable; we become charitable in order to share more fully in the life of God. Fasting makes us remember our need for God; prayer enables us to encounter and receive the infinite love of God for us; almsgiving allows us to become instruments of God’s love for others. It’s all about growing in Holy Communion with God – trusting Him in all circumstances with everything.

          Five times in today’s pericope from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He instructs us not to worry or to be anxious about the things of this world. Only in God is my soul at rest; from Him comes my salvation. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Too often though, we worry with great anxiety about secondary questions: ‘When will the next paycheck come?’ or ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ or all the other things that the pagans seek. The real question for us is: Do I personally know God? Do I truly trust Him? If so, then we would know that Your heavenly Father knows that you need all those other things that we might be worried or anxious about.

          Perhaps the best example of this deep abiding trust is the natural trust of an infant for his mother. Why not worry? Why not be anxious? There is one very good reason – that we are His children. Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? It seems almost inconceivable that she might; but Even should she forget, I will never forget you, says the Lord.

          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart, and may you have a blessed and holy Lent!

Fr. Matt


Happy (Liturgical) New Year!

Posted by Fr. Matt on December 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner:. . Be prepared . . . In days to come . . .

         Happy New Year to you, my dear friends in Christ.  The beginning of this new Church year is a time to dream.  Some of us have already begun to dream about next year’s gun deer season; others are simply dreaming of a white and wonderful Christmas.  In this spirit, the Church gives us one of our great dreamers – the visionary prophet Isaiah – as one of our chief guidesduring this Advent season.

         This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.  In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.  All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say:  “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may instruct us in His ways, and we may walk in His paths.”   Advent is a season of waiting – waiting for the days to come.  Advent is a season of hope – a hope founded on our rock-solid faith in God:  the hope that we and our neighbors might stream toward that rock – the mountain of the LORDS’s house, that He may instruct us in His ways, and we may walk in His paths.

          But this is not a merely passive waiting; it is not a merely sleepy dream; it is not a merely wishy-washy hope.  It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.  For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand.  Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light!  Whew, them’s fightin’ words from St. Paul – and well he knew both the cost and the rewards of this spiritual battle.  What are we to do, then?  How are we to fight?

          It begins as John the Baptist began (stay tuned for next week’s gospel!) in the desert as we confront the reality of our lives and our sins.  In the liberating Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), we truly throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, as we bring what has lain hidden and festering into the healing rays of God’s light and love – ahh, to breathe again in the fresh air of Divine Life!

          This Advent, make some time to bring your faith back out into the light of your everyday life.  Go to confession (our communal penance service is this Wednesday, December 4th, at 6 pm at St. Anthony’s).  Read scripture.  Do an extra act of charity and love.  Visit someone who’s lonely.  Pray for yourself and others.  There are many things we can do to – as Jesus commands – Be Prepared

          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Fr. Matt on September 20, 2013 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner: . . . The Master commended that dishonest steward . . .

          Greetings to you, my dear friends in Christ. Once more, Jesus confounds and confuses us with one of those perplexing parables of His. What a goofy master – to praise the dirty thief who’s been robbing him …what gives this time?

          For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Hmm … What is it that occupies our time and energy? Most of us can focus clearly on some physical problem that confronts us. If I’m hungry, I can easily focus my attention on getting something in my belly to satisfy my hunger. If I have bills piling up, it’s all too easy for me to stay awake at night trying to scheme a way to make ends meet – I can even put my plan into practice by working and saving more (by acting; by changing). If my health is failing, I can easily concentrate on my pains and do whatever it takes to get better – I might even go to see a doctor! It seems that I’m pretty prudent in dealing with the things of this world – I see, I judge, and I act.

          What about my life in the Spirit? All of those things that occupy our attention daily: food, money, bills, health, family, work, school, play, (yes Dora, even pets) are not truly ours – they are gifts from God. We are merely stewards of these things and persons, which means that God has entrusted them to our care. Am I more prudent in the fleeting things of this world than in the eternal ones? Am I more concerned with dishonest wealth that doesn’t truly belong to me than I am with the true wealth that is my true, eternal self?

          When we set aside Sunday as the Lord’s day – not working, not shopping (so that others have to work), not saying: “When will Mass be over, that we may sell our grain, and the Lord’s Day, that we may display the wheat?” – but rather, spending time with our family at Mass; then we are showing that we are trustworthy in both great and small matters. Then God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth, will give you what is yours.

          If Jesus praised the crooked steward for cheating and stealing when action was needed, how much more should we take action in doing what is both necessary and right! I know that all is not right with my soul – my true wealth. Do I have the integrity, the honesty, the faith, and the trust in God and His Word to go to confession and be welcomed into eternal dwellings of forgiveness and mercy by the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all?

          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Fr. Matt on June 20, 2013 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner: ... and the disciples were with Him


          Greetings to all of you, my sisters and brothers. Does anyone else wonder where June is off to?  These days seem to be flying past as – despite this summer respite, this season of comfort seems to have a busy-nessof its own.  With preparations and practices and yard-work and gardening and soccer matches and baseball games and camping trips and outings of fishful thinking … finding times of solitude and Sabbath rest can be difficult even in this sabbatical season.

          So it is that we find Jesus praying in solitude – ahhh, quiet solitude; but wait just a moment, what did you say, Luke? … and the disciples were with Him …  Hmm, which is it – praying in solitude or and the disciples were with Him?  It seems that the solitude of prayer that Jesus knew didn’t have so much to do with simply being alone – but rather, being alone with His disciples.  In other words, we find Jesus being alone with His disciples in the same way that we come to be alone with Him each Sunday at Mass.

          When we take time out of our busy schedules to come to Mass on Sunday, what we do is precisely not what I hear so many people complain about when it comes to ‘going to church’.  That is, we do not enter a crowd of people that we need to impress by our abilities to walk on our own or sing well or anything else.  We do come away to be alone with our closest friends and our brothers and sisters, because we are all one in Christ Jesus.

          Now I know that all this is ‘preaching to the choir’ because by your reading this, you probably make it a point to come away to be alone with us “through Him, with Him, and in Him.”  You are already among the disciples who were with Him.  But here’s the kicker:  When we come away with Him each Sunday, He will always challenge us to know Him. After all, we were each created to know, love, and serve Him in this life so as to live forever with Him in the next. 

          Jesus says to you and to me each weekend, “You are here with me now, But who do you say that I am?  What does my presence with you in this Sabbath rest mean to you?  How will you let Me change your life now?  For If anyone wishes to come after me, he mus tdeny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

          We who have been alone with Him in such an intimate solitude that we are now one flesh with Him – we must now show others His presence within us.  How can you spend your life for Him in such a way as to find it, and to help others find theirs as well?

           Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt


10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Fr. Matt on June 20, 2013 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner: ... and God has visited his people ...

          Greetings to all of you, my sisters and brothers in Christ. Whether it be in Zarephath, Naim, Pembine, or Niagara, the reality of death confronts us all. A great big part of the Good News that our faith proclaims to us is that while death is real, it need not be final. Rather, as foreshadowed by today’s scriptures, the Lord Jesus will restore the life breath to us if we give ourselves over to Him.

          Elijah says to the widow of Zarephath: Give me your son.  Jesus says to the widow of Naim: Do not weep.   Where there is God, there is hope – even in death. That’s why it’s very important for us not to lose hope (and, at the same time, not to presume) when death comes for you or me or one of ours. Each person – every one of us – is created to live forever with the Lord. That’s why it’s very important to continue to treat one another with profound reverence and respect throughout life and into death. When someone we love is near death, it is vital for us to do for them what the Lord asks of us: Give me your son.

          In our case, that means call for a priest to administer the last Sacraments for him or her. It also means offering the best that the Church has to offer for those who have died. This has absolutely nothing to do with monetary things (coffins and all the other fees associated with funerals). Rather, it has everything to do with offering a funeral Mass – which costs nothing – (with the related rites) for the person who has died. The sacrifice of the Mass – during which Jesus offers His Body and Blood on the altar of the Cross for the salvation of our souls (and bodies) – is the one most important action in which we can partake to help our loved ones on their way into the next life.

          Of course, it’s also a good and necessary thing to help each other through the process of grieving and saying goodbye to our loved ones. That’s why it’s also best to have a vigil service the evening before the funeral Mass – a time for people to gather, cry, laugh, hug, and share stories and memories in the context of the Church’s prayer and faith in God. The third and final stage of the Church’s funeral rites occurs at the graveside – as God offers that sense of both closure and hope in eternal life for loved ones left behind.

          I encourage you to discuss these things with your family and loved ones before a time of crisis occurs. Begin to envision together the 3-fold rites of the Christian Funeral: Vigil the night before, Funeral Mass, and Committal Service as a way of both giving and receiving the love and support of one another, as well as doing the critically important work of giving a loved one to the Lord. Through all this, may we see that God has visited his people!

          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt

Corpus Christi Sunday

Posted by Fr. Matt on June 20, 2013 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)
Fr. Matt’s Corner: ... They all ate and were satisfied ...

          Greetings to all my sisters and brothers on this Feast of Corpus Christi. The Body and Blood of Christ – the Eucharist – the Real Presence of Jesus – the Blessed Sacrament – is what makes us who we are as the Catholic
Church. When I talk to those who, like myself, had been away from the Church for any significant period of time, it
always seems to be this sacramental presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that brings us back.
          Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised by this fact.  God has created us for one purpose: to be like Him so that, as we discovered last week on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, we might live in Him. That can only happen when He comes to live in us. That’s why He became like us.  God designed us with a built-in emptiness or hunger for Himself – that only He can fill. As Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.”  We all hunger for this Bread from Heaven – whether or not we are even aware of it.
          Without this Eucharistic Real Presence of Jesus, we are stuck – like the Twelve – unable to do much, unable to make a real difference in our lives nor in the lives of those who needed to be cured.  This Sunday, during our Corpus Christi procession, let us pray for God’s blessing upon our community – knowing that while this is never any guarantee of financial or physical health; still, without God’s blessing, we have only our own impotence and sterility. And so we are left (like the Twelve) saying simply:  "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here. Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we  ourselves go and buy food for all these people."
          But ... what if we had the Real Presence of Jesus in our midst as they did back then – what might happen then? But we do! So what might happen now?  Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.
           Brothers and sisters:  I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over, took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broak it and said, "This is my body that is for you."  Now, He can say with all earnestness and sincerity, "With what you have received from the Lord, hand on to others, and go and Give them some food yourselves."
          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,
Fr. Matt

Trinity Sunday

Posted by Fr. Matt on May 23, 2013 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner:  ... and hope does not disappoint


          Greetings and peace and salutations to all of you, my friends, on this Trinity Sunday.  While our society might send us the message that ‘god’ is me, myself, and I; we Catholics know better – that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Since most of us don’t spend much time on a daily basis pondering what it is that makes God God, it’s providential that Our Mother the Church gives us this day to contemplate this great mystery – especially as a follow-up to last Sunday’s great feast of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth who will guide you to all truth and will declare to you the things that are coming.

          The fact that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit means that God is Love. From all eternity, the Father loved the Son who loved the Father, and their love was and is so perfect and pure and stupendously intense that it was and is another Divine person – the Holy Spirit. You and I are created in the image of this 3-Personned God, and that’s not just fancy theologic-speak.

        God’s plan for our existence begins in an act of love that is (meant to be) as humanly-perfect as possible between a father and a mother – loving so perfectly and purely and stupendously intensely that in a moment of ecstasy, God’s Holy Spirit might breathe new life into their union and create a third person. The human family is built on the image of the Holy Trinity, and everything that comes forth from the family: life, communities, politics, work, play, states and nations, war and peace, sickness and health – all of it is founded on this Divine image of Three Persons in One God. 

          When anything has gone wrong with anything, it has always been a result of our refusal to live as God lives – our conceding that we can’t handle the truth of God’s love.  Look around at broken relationships, hunger, disease, terrorism, violence, fear – it all stems from our refusal to accept the Holy Trinity and our role within the life of God.  God is Love, and God is here all around us –at church, at the store, in the bedroom, on the river, in the woods, around our kitchen tables, wherever we are, God’s invitation is open to us:  come, share My life.  For this reason I told you that He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.

          I hope that we might begin to say:  Yes, Lord.  And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us – that same Holy Spirit who was beside the Father as His Craftsman, playing before Him all the while, playing on the surface of His earth; and saying:   I found delight in the human race.

          Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt



Posted by Fr. Matt on May 23, 2013 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner:  . . . The Holy Spirit will teach you everything . . .


            Peace be with you, my friends, and hold on to your hats, for the Holy Spirit is blowing among us this day!  The Breath of God, the Love between the Father and the Son, the Paraclete, the Advocate – the Holy Spirit.

            What is it that the Holy Spirit does?  Jesus said the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything. He tells us (through Isaiah) what the seven gifts of the Spirit are:  Wisdom – to see things (life, death, the world, ourselves) with the eyes of God; Knowledge – to know enough to act well; Understanding – to see beyond the surface and into the heart; Counsel – to exercise right judgment with an informed conscience; Fortitude – to courageously persevere on the path of truth and justice when prevailing opinion flows the other way; Piety – to love and respect God and neighbor; and Fear of the Lord – to know, desire, and serve God above all things. 

            What does the Holy Spirit do?  In the end, the Holy Spirit makes us one body, one spirit in Christ; the Holy Spirit unites us in the unbreakable bond of Love.  There are many different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  These Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for service – not for our own individual benefit – but for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ.  You have been given spiritual gifts; you are a member of the Body of Christ.  What are we doing with our gifts?  Are we putting them to the service of uniting God’s people in beauty, love, and truth?

            As we celebrate the great feasts of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi, may we follow the lead of our Blessed Mother Mary in allowing the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus to birth in our lives.  Let’s all pray that powerful, dangerous prayer: 

                           Come Holy Spirit, come; fill the hearts of Your faithful.

                           Kindle in them the Fire of Your Love. 

                           Send forth Your Spirit and they will be created,

                            and You will renew the face of the earth.

            Peace to all of you, my friends, this holy day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt


Ascension Thursday Sunday

Posted by Fr. Matt on May 23, 2013 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr. Matt’s Corner:  . . . And behold, I am with you always,until the end of the age. . .


Greetings to you, my dear friends onthe Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.  At the heart of our faith is the fact thatJesus Christ (God) became man so that we (men and women) could become God (bybecoming One in heart, mind, and spirit with Him).  The technical and poetic name for this greatmystery is:  the Marvelous Exchange.  As St. John says, “Beloved, we are God’schildren now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed we shallbe like Him, for we shall see Him as He Is.”

            So why didJesus leave us and ascend back to the Father? Why didn’t He just stick around so that we could see Him now?  Wouldn’t it have been so much better (not tomention easier to believe) if He was still walking around for us to seethroughout these 2000+ years?  Perhaps wemight find one way of understanding the Ascension by listening again to thewords of Jesus Himself.  You will receive power when the Holy Spiritcomes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea andSamaria, and to the ends of the earth – in Niagara and Pembine, throughoutAurora and Norway and Beecher, and to the ends of the earth.  God wants to give us power; He wants our greatness; He wants us to become like Him. 

            If Jesushad not gone from this world to the Father, we would still be like infants –only able to believe what our physical eyes can see and our senses and oursciences could touch.  But since He hasgone from our sight – weaning us off of mother’s milk so that our hearts andminds can munch on more delectable foods (the Bread of Life) – we have the gift of faith so that we can know whatmere science cannot discover.  When Jesusshowed Himself to the disciples 40 days after Easter, they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.  After He ascended, and the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were filled with the power of faith – the power to give their lives in service asJesus had done – the power and peace the world cannot give.

            In thatfaith, we know that all power in heavenand on earth has been given to Him and that He is with you always, until the end of the age.  May theeyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope thatbelongs to His call, what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among theholy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power for us whobelieve.  Peace to all of you thisholy day and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt


6th Sunday of Easter

Posted by Fr. Matt on May 23, 2013 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Fr.Matt’s Corner:  ... and make ourdwelling with him …


Happy Easter to all of my favoritepeople!  Today is holy to the Lord, ourGod.  In the midst of all that hasbefallen our community over the past couple of weeks, we have been hearinggreat Good News from our Lord:  “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the humanrace.  He will dwell with them and they willbe His people and God himself will always be with them as their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, andthere shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old orderhas passed away.” And today:  “Whoever loves Me will keep My Word, and myFather will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him.

God is with us.  As that old hymn resounds:  “No storm can shake my inmost calm, while tothat Rock I’m clinging.  Since Love isLord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?”  We are now in this last portion of the Easterseason, and Mother Church is preparing us for two major events in the historyof the universe:  The Ascension of ourLord back into heaven – after which we will no longer see Him as He was duringHis earthly life (until that day when we meet Him face-to-face) – and theDescent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

These will be the next two Sundayson our calendar.  Next Sunday isAscension Thursday (don’t even try to figure that one out – I’ve alreadytried), and the following Sunday is Pentecost. Seen in light of one another, these two great feasts of the Church year– which come so close together – teach us (among other things) that God is withus even when He’s not – or rather, when it seems that He’s not.

That’s what the Church is allabout.  In God’s great plan, He wants usto know this – not only in our minds (which is certainly important), but alsoin our guts (our hearts).  TheSacraments, the Church’s teaching, the Bible, the Church’s hierarchicalstructure, the unity that we (are meant to) have in the Church’s Faith, theLove that we (are commanded to) share as Jesus’ disciples – all these thingsand more have been ordained by the Father and instituted by Jesus Christ tohelp us to share in the life of the Holy Spirit.  That is, to help us to know that God is withus.

If God is with us, whom should wefear?  Since the time of the Apostles andthe early Church fathers – who were all persecuted and/or martyred for ourFaith – God has been with us in and through the Catholic Church.  That union between Jesus and His Bride (theChurch – that holy city Jerusalem comingdown out of heaven from God) is so profound and deep that throughouthistory, She has been able to say confidently such bold things as:  ‘It isthe decision of the Holy Spirit and of us…’

Hoohoo, what joy and peace to knowthat God Himself speaks through the Church. What inmost calm we have – knowing that Jesus and His Father have cometo “make Our dwelling with[us]”. 

Peace to all of you, my friends,this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,

Fr. Matt