West River Catholic: June 2017

Enjoy the June edition of the West River Catholic

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Called to live the life of solitary prayer a hermit chooses a quiet Piedmont location

Immaculate Heart Hermitage is a new home for Sr. Mary Catherine Jacobs who will reside in the Diocese of Rapid City as a hermit.

Originally from Ralph, she entered religious life at age 18 at the Carmel of Mary Monastery at Wahpeton, N.D. It is a cloistered contemplative order with a devotion to imitating the Blessed Mother.

“Mary is very much a part of my life,” she said. “Every grace I received came to me through her hands.”

The monastery in N. D. was founded in 1954, the Marian year. “I was there 30 years and began to know the eremitical calling (to become a hermit) around 1986. Vatican II talked about going back to your roots so I felt very strongly that I was being called back to what we lived in the origin of the order.

“Reading the Holy Father’s encyclical on “Rich in Mercy,” St. John Paul II speaks of conversion to the father as an experience of knowing the trinity dwells in every soul.

“I felt called to a life of prayer. You can reach into everybody’s heart by prayer,” said Sr. Mary Catherine.

She first explored the hermetic life in Chester, New Jersey. She also lived in communities in Texas and a new community starting in Brazil. After much contemplation she discerned her calling was to live not in community, but as a solitary hermit.

She talked to Fr. Dan Juelfs, who used to be a neighbor at Ralph. He said he would speak with Bishop Robert Gruss. After interviewing her last fall and reviewing her references, the bishop gave his consent for establishing a hermitage. This is new to the diocese, so the Handbook for Hermetic Life was adapted from the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. The bishop appointed Fr. Leo Hausmann, director of Eremitic Life. Fr. Mark McCormick is her spiritual director.

“My hermitage is not a place where I get away, it’s where I meet the whole world in prayer and in Christ, because Christ prays for everyone. It’s almost like an infinite vocation — not limited to time or space, nobody is excluded. The whole world is in there from the beginning of creation until the end because God is there,” said Sr. Mary Catherine.

“We are each individuals and are to have a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord. The hermit is to be an icon of the time we are to be personally relating to the Lord,” she said. “I live in silence and solitude and that is to some degree everybody’s calling. The hermit is to be an intercessor, to let Christ pray his prayer through her, that’s what we all seek.”

She will make her temporal eremitic vows at 11 a.m. Mass on June 29 at Our Lady of the Black Hills, Piedmont. She attends daily Mass there and at St. Martin Monastery. The church has a box set up for prayer requests and prayer requests can be sent to her at smcjacobsocarm@gmail.com.

According to diocesan policy, hermits residing in the Diocese of Rapid City are required to be self-supporting. Sr. Mary Catherine partially supports herself by painting and selling icons and painting artwork for Christmas and Easter cards, bookmarks and holy cards. To view her artwork for sale, go to Land of Carmel Art Inspirations at carmelartinspirations.com. She also sews Mass linens for the Carmelites in Wahpeton in order to bring in money.

Immaculate Heart Hermitage has been established by Sr. Mary Catherine as a non-profit organization in the State of South Dakota with a board of trustees so that she can receive donations to help support herself and her ministry. For anyone who would like to inquire about how they can support her ministry, please contact her at smcjacobsocarm@gmail.com.

To the devil even moderately faithful Catholics stink

Ghosts, the devil and witchcraft — topics Catholics should be aware of, were the subjects of a lecture open to the public given by Fr. Dennis McManus, an exorcist. He spoke May 24 at Terra Sancta, Rapid City. He was in the Diocese of Rapid City to address the clergy at their annual Clergy Convocation.

Father McManus began by explaining ghosts are essentially souls of humans separated from their bodies after or near death. “Our nation has a thing about magic, witchcraft and ghosts,” he said. “All together there are 32 shows on television about ghosts, zombies, dead people or (demonic) possession.”

He commended Pope Francis for talking frequently about the devil. “What he wants us to know as Catholics is that the devil is a real individual. The devil’s biggest trick in the modern world is to fool us and make us think he doesn’t really exist,” said Father McManus. “If you don’t believe in the devil, you pretty much are a sitting duck for him to be able to do with you what he wants. If we are aware of things we are less likely to be manipulated or fooled by them.”

He cautioned the audience not to be “all jittery sitting home and worrying the devil is going to come visit.” According to McManus, “The devil is not God. He doesn’t have God’s powers. You are a baptized person, (if) you live even a modest Catholic life, go to church occasionally and say your prayers, you stink to the devil. The devil doesn’t hang around Catholics or Protestants or Jews who love God.”

Since the Civil War, the south is full of haunted houses below the Mason Dixon line. “The first thing we have to think about is ghosts are not demons or devils. Ghosts are the souls of the faithful departed whom God has allowed to be in touch with us who are still alive — usually in the place where they lived or died, or did something wrong. Ghosts ask for help to make things right, for the forgiveness of sins,” he said. “Almost all cases of hauntings resolve themselves once a priest has come and said Mass in the place where the ghost was.

“When Mass is offered just for the soul of that one person, they are set free, and off they go to paradise because Mass is the great sacrifice of Jesus himself. Our salvation was purchased by the blood of Jesus.”

Father McManus gave several examples of ghosts in the Bible. In the Gospels, when the apostles see Jesus walking on the water they think he is a ghost. After the resurrection, when Jesus appears in the upper room, again they think he is a ghost. He challenges them by asking Thomas to touch his wounds and wanting something to eat.

“Ghosts for the Jews had only one purpose — to get revenge. The apostles are screaming and afraid. They figure Jesus is angry with them and has come back to get even,” said McManus referring to the betrayal by Judas and Peter denying he knows the Lord. On the day of the resurrection, 500 ghosts rose from the dead and walked through Jerusalem.

“God needed the Jews to see Jesus sets the dead free,” he said.

“How many times in your life have you lost someone, a husband, a wife, God forbid a child, brother or sister, and you have dreamt of them?” he asked. “Occasionally we have seen them especially at the time of their death. They come to say goodbye and to ask for prayers.”

Using his nickname for the devil, he said, “Old Red Legs has nothing to do with ghosts. He can’t get his hands on ghosts even if he tried because ghosts are already in purgatory — on their way to heaven. God allows them to ask the church for help in this entrance to heaven. There are a million entrances into the dark kingdom and only one into heaven.”

Father McManus recounted the story of two high school girls who brought him a Ouija board they had been using for a year. The planchette was starting to move on it’s own without their hands. When he recommended they quit using it, the girls refused saying they used it to learn “secret stuff.” They were addicted to the flow of information and couldn’t stop. He offered to fix it for them and got out a hammer and smashed it. They protested.

“It won’t bother you again,” he said. “What I wrecked is your dependency. I’m warning you whatever moves something by itself is no friend.”

He continued his talk discussing witchcraft, which is prevalent in many cultures.

“In my part of the world, in Mobile, Ala., it’s voodoo. To get even with somebody, go to a voodoo witch — ‘that guy cheated me out of money,’ ‘that man took away my son,’ ‘that woman wrecked my marriage …’”

Bishops will call him, all shook up, when churches are vandalized. He explains that is a rite of passage for a coven. Father McManus said the number of covens is growing attended by white American lawyers, doctors, ministers, professors and businessmen worshiping Satan. “There are now more covens than there are parish churches, convents, schools and clinics put together,” he said. “They promise you whatever you like — drugs, sex, booze, money, jobs, position, anything. It’s all on condition that you do what you are asked to do at a future date.” That could include theft or murder.

The exorcist concluded with possession. It occurs when a human consents to form a long-term relationship with a demon.

Exorcism puts an end to the relationships between demons and humans. The person has to reject, renounce and rebuke what ever it is they are supplying.

“Then the power of Jesus can come in and break the bonds,” he said. “If you go to hell it was your choice. God will use any little scrap of our life to make sure we won’t go to hell.”

 

 

How to let Jesus, the Living Word, speak to you

 

At times, people say to me, “Fr. Mark, I just don’t hear Jesus speak to me. I do not hear his voice.”

When I hear this, I ask them to describe their life of prayer to me and often they are saying prayers but not praying. They are not sharing their feelings, thoughts and desires with Jesus and allowing Jesus to speak to them in the silence of their hearts.

And more often than not they are not reading the Scriptures either. It is in silence and in the Scriptures — the word of God — that Jesus speaks to our hearts.

Pope Francis says about the word of God, “Take it, carry it with you, and read it every day, it is Jesus himself who is speaking to you…. The important thing is to read the word of God, by any means, but read the word of God. It is Jesus who speaks to us there. Welcome it with an open heart. Then the good seed will bear fruit!”

At Pastoral Ministry Days in 2016, Msgr. Thomas Richter, rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, gave us a simple guide to help us spend time every day in prayer, reading, listening and hearing Jesus speak to us through His life-giving Word.

We read in Hebrews, “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (Heb 4:12-13).

The best way I know how to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to me in the depths of my heart is to spend time with him every day, in silence, reading and listening to his words in the Scriptures. The problem is that most of us are not faithful and consistent to a regular pattern of daily prayer, and then we wonder why we never hear Jesus speak to our hearts.

In his book “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic: How Engaging 1% of Catholics Could Change the World,” Matthew Kelly says that Dynamic Catholics, which are about 7 percent of all Catholics, have a regular routine time for prayer. What does this mean? Kelly says, “They tend to pray the same time every day and they tend to pray in the same place every day.”

Kelly goes on to say that “most people when they pray sit down and see what happens, and of course very often nothing happens. So they get frustrated and stop praying. When Dynamic Catholics sit down to pray they don’t just see what happens; they have a plan, they have a routine and routine within the routine.”

I challenge you to pray for a half hour every day, at the same time every day, and in the same place every day, for the next month. Be not afraid! Give it a try! Use the simple format that Msgr. Richter laid out for us as the plan for your 30 minutes of prayer every day.

I am also asking that you find a person, maybe it’s your spouse, a friend, a coworker, a parishioner or your pastor, to help keep you accountable to this new routine of prayer in your life. Are you willing to accept this challenge?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website provides the daily readings: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/. While the site provides both readings and the Psalm, you can use any one of the Scriptures for the day in this prayer time. The site also offers an audio version for each of the day’s readings, which offers you an opportunity to share this prayer practice with someone who is visually impaired. See the guide below for other ideas.

 

Msgr. Richter’s Prayer Guide

“If I want to spend time with Jesus in daily prayer, what would it look like?”

This is what it would looks like … Below is a general outline of what personal prayer looks like in the hearts of prayerful people throughout the centuries. Follow the suggestions for committing to daily prayer.

Begin by meditating on the following quote “God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2567).

What do you want?

Look in your heart; look at your life. What do you want? What do you really want from God? Tell God right now what you need from him during this time of prayer.

Now read a passage from the Bible Maybe it’s the day’s Psalm; maybe it’s one of the readings from the daily Mass; maybe it’s one of the readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass. Simply find a passage from Scripture. Read the passage slowly. Get familiar with the text. Read the passage a second time, this time reading even more slowly. Very, very slowly read the passage a third time. Pay attention to which word, words or phrases “tug” at your heart or get your attention.

Take some time now to think about your life Think about the reality of your life. What word, words, or phrases from the Scripture passage speak to you? How does the Scripture passage connect to your life? Look deep within.

Next, talk to God

Share everything with Him. Talk to Him as you would talk to your most trusted friend. Talk to God like Moses did: “The Lord used to speak to Moses face-to-face, as one man speaks to another” (Ex 33:11).

Then listen — God will speak to you

Maybe God will speak to you through a thought in your head … or a song in your heart … or a memory … or a desire in your body. Listen with all your senses.

Return to the Scripture passage

Read it slowly one more time. What word, words, or phrases speak to you again?

What can you do?

Think about what you can do today, this week, to act upon what God has revealed to you. Practically speaking, in your real life, what can you do?

Thank the Lord

Finally, thank the Lord. Blessings are specific and so should be your gratitude. Tell God specifically what you’re thankful for.

Please do not become discouraged if what you had hoped for didn’t happen

during a time of prayer. Don’t give up. This is about having a friendship with Jesus. Continue to practice the steps as you

cultivate your daily prayer life.

 

Let me know how this approach to prayer works for you. Contact me at (605) 716-5214 ext. 233 or MMcCormick @diorc.org.

 

Convocation examines today’s concerns, challenges and opportunities

It is hard to believe that only nine weeks ago we celebrated the Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday. I recall the great joy of those who answered the call to enter into the Catholic faith on that Holy Saturday night. Each in their own way answered the call to come and follow Jesus in a new way.

Since Easter, I have been on the confirmation circuit, traversing the diocese, helping those who were confirmed to come to a deeper understanding of what Jesus is asking of them as he pours out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon them, sharing with them the seven gifts which will help them to become mature disciples. These gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit have been given to all who have been confirmed so that all of us can live as true witnesses of Christ in our everyday lives. This is our call in Christ. As to whether we take it seriously, only each of us can answer for ourselves.

This is at the heart of the mission of the Diocese of Rapid City. I wonder, even after the Diocesan Priority Plan was promulgated and Through Him, With Him, and In Him – A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan was shared across the diocese, if most parishioners would know the mission statement of the diocese — it is the mission statement of each one of us.

Here it is again: We, the Diocese of Rapid City, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are called to attract and form intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim and live the mission of Jesus Christ, leading to eternal life.

This propels us into the New Evangelization, stemming from our baptism and strengthened through the sacrament of confirmation. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis has been very clear about this in writing: “The word of God constantly shows us how God challenges those who believe in him “to go forth.” In our day Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” echoes in the changing scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s mission of evangelization, and all of us are called to take part in this new missionary “going forth.” Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel” (#20).

In response to this call the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken seriously Pope Francis’ exhortation to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy of the Gospel growing in our own call to missionary discipleship of Jesus Christ as well as helping to form others in this call.

The USCCB is convening “The Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” on July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. Under the guidance of the bishops, this gathering of diverse Catholic leaders from around the country will provide an opportunity for the church of the United States, to

examine today’s concerns, challenges and opportunities in the light of the church’s mission of evangelization. They will be equipped to go forth, ready to engage the world with the joy of the Gospel. The Diocese of Rapid City will be represented by a diverse team of fourteen leaders from across the diocese.

Two key outcomes for the convocation include: first, leaders will be equipped and re-energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples, and second, they will come away with new insights from participation in strategic conversation about current challenges and opportunities informed by new research, communication strategies and successful models. From these conversations, the hope is that participants will bring back — to the diocese, their parishes and our ministries — tools, resources and renewed inspiration to apply and move forward the “Joy of the Gospel” and Pope Francis’ desire to create a church of missionary disciples who lead others to a “missionary conversion” so that, together as the body of Christ, we can have a profound impact on the culture and society in a dynamic way.

This convocation will be of great value as we move forward the mission of the Diocese of Rapid City. To that goal, I would ask that this Convocation of Catholic Leaders, its participants and the ministry which flow forth from it be lifted up in your daily prayers, asking the Holy Spirit to direct and guide these efforts. Pastors, please include an intercession for this intention in the Prayers of the Faithful at the weekend Masses of July 1-2.

Only together can we live our mission and build the kingdom of God in western South Dakota. May God abundantly bless you and your families.

 

Fr. Mark’s Musings