Pastor's Newsletter

The most recent Newsletters and Commentary from Father Harris

Dec. 17, 2018 Mass Commentary

Above left is a photo of Jim Mumma with his wife Joan. Joan called me this morning to tell me that Jim had passed away. I will let you know what the funeral arrangements are when they become available. Jim was a big part of our parish family, and he will be missed. On Dec. 17th, for our daily Mass gospel reading, we always cover the Genealogy of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. For us, these genealogies are rather tedious, but for ancient peoples, knowing these genealogies were essential for survival. And if you are close to your family, you know that part of belonging to a family is knowing who all the members of the family are, their personal stories, and how those members fit into the big picture of the family. So, being we are members of the family of Jesus, we should want to know something about these genealogies.

Dec. 16, 2018 Mass Commentary

I am aware that some people think I am strange, and I imagine photos like these posted on the website and Facebook just ends up strengthening their opinion. Well, OK, I am willing to admit that I am strange, but my strangeness doesn't hold a candle to how strange St. John the Baptist was. In this recording, I try to explain why St. John the Baptist was such a great source of joy for the People of Israel, despite his strange and stern demeanor.

I won't mention any names, but one parishioner thinks I'm wrong when I say "rose" is a combination of purple and white. He would say, that rose is pink, and pick is red with white, with no purple. So, I decided to do some research on this, and it appears that we are both wrong, but I'm right when it comes to the purple component. Rose is the color halfway between red and magenta on the HSV color wheel, Magenta (a.k.a. fuscia) is a purple at the midpoint of red and blue. Pink seems to be various shades of rose, tending to pale colors of red. So, rose is definitely reddish purple with more red added, whereas pink is a pale shade of red, which may or may not have purple in it. There is no white mentioned in either one.

Above are some modern day examples of winnowing fans.

And they call me goofy.

Dec. 15, 2018 Mass Commentary

Next to the Church Calendars and the Parish Bulletins are copies of Bishop Jenky's 2019 Festival Letter. I know all of you are most interested in this letter and are determined to read it. So, grab your copy before someone beats you to the punch.

In this recording, I connect the Bishop's Festival Letter on "The Fear of the Lord" with St. John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Dec. 14, 2018 Mass Commentary

Today is the Solemnity of St. John of the Cross, which is an important day for me.

St. John of the Cross was actually planning on leaving the Carmelite Order, but then he met St. Teresa of Avila, and that changed everything. For the rest of the story, you will have to listen to this recording of the homily that I gave last year:

In addition to his work as a Discalced Carmelite, he was also a poet.

As of today, it has been one year since I totaled my car. I'm grateful that things worked out as well as they did. I'm grateful to Lisa Fox for helping me on that day (Dec. 14, 2017).

Diane Matheis hated snakes in her garden. It is our hope that she is heading to a garden that is free of the serpent. In this recording I try to explain how our faith would apply to the difficult situation of a 55 year old woman dying unexpectedly.

Dec. 13, 2018 Mass Commentary

Behold the modern day St. Lucy. Instead of a crown of candles on her head while bringing food to the hungry and persecuted Christians in the catacombs, she is now wearing a headlamp and spelunking in some cave. St. Lucy’s name literally means “light.” We pray that we might embrace the light of the gospel, and be a light of faith to others. In this recording, I urge the faithful to be true Children of the Light. The members of the Church on earth need to be the Church Militant, not the Church Lazy and Fearful. If this little girl can have enough courage to climb down into some cave, can we not show a little backbone and be a light of faith to the people living in the dark cave of this world?

Above right is a photo of the pot growing nuns in California. For the record, they are not affiliated with the Catholic Church.

Above left is a photo of the gambling addicted embezzling nuns in California. Unfortunately, they are affiliated with the Catholic Church. I guess we male priests are not the only ones who a capable of wrong doing.

Dec. 12, 2018 Mass Commentary

If you were to come up with the top ten events in the history of the Catholic Church, the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary- under the title of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”- would be on that list. In this recording, I explain that not only was Our Lady of Guadalupe instrumental in the conversion of the New World, but she was also instrumental in saving the Church in the old world.

In 2002, Mexican government archaeologist Juan Alberto Roman Berrelleza announced the results of forensic testing on the bones of 42 children, mostly boys around age 6, sacrificed at Mexico City's Templo Mayor, the Aztec's main religious site, during a drought. This is a photo of some of the bones they found underneath the busy streets of Mexico City. For the rest of the story, and how this relates to today's feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you will have to listen to this recording of my homily from last year:

Dec. 11, 2018 Mass Commentary

Above are photos of murals that can be found in the Shepherd's Field Chapel in Bethlehem. In this recording, I explain that each one of us is that one lost lamb that the Good Shepherd goes after.

Dec. 10, 2018 Mass Commentary

In today's gospel, we hear about some guys who helped their buddy to get to Jesus. They made an incredible effort to do so. During the Advent Season, we are reminded that Jesus made an incredible effort to get to us. In this recording, I try to encourage you to make that extra effort to get to Jesus- in the Sacrament of Reconciliation- being Jesus made such an effort to get to us.

Dec. 9, 2018 Mass Commentary

On Tuesday, Dec. 4th, at around 5:30 PM, I found myself driving on the Avenue of the Cities, which was a most unpleasant experience. As you can see in this photo (above right) the the roads were quite slick. The Moline Police Department reported that there were 11 traffic accidents on that road at that particular time. From this experience, it gives me a new perspective on the line from the gospel reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent: "The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." In this recording, I talk quite a bit about roads, how they contribute to empires and civilization in general, and what they have to do with Jesus and John the Baptist.

We know that the weather out there is frightful, but we want to thank all the folks who made the effort to be at Mass this morning. The Women's Guild and I want to wish you all a very happy and spiritually fruitful Advent. But Hey, remember let's be careful out there. Thank you Michael Conrad. We don't want to go "Here's Johnny" on anyone.

Dec. 8, 2018 Mass Commentary

When I was a kid, I didn't always appreciate the Christmas gifts that I received, especially the gifts that I received from my Grandma Werts; but with the passage of time I have gained a new perspective on these gifts. In this recording, I talk about Mary receiving a most precious gift, and sharing that gift with us, but we don't really appreciate it.

"Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." The famous "Infamy Speech" was actually given on Dec. 8, 1941 as a response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the very same day, congress declared war on Japan, thus launching the United States into World War II. How strange that our involvement in World War II began on the day when the Blessed Virgin Mary entered our world.

Dec. 7, 2018 Mass Commentary

In the above center photo you see Jenny Hokanson (left) with Ginger Arnold (right). It was taken last night (Dec. 6, 2018) at the "Jingle Mingle" event coordinated by the Women's Guild of our parish. In this midst of the frivolity and festivity, Ginger was elected Vice President of the Women's Guild, and it reminded me a great deal of how today's saint- St. Ambrose- was chosen to be the Bishop of Milan. To hear all the details, you will have to listen to this recording.

Dec. 6, 2018 Mass Commentary

The next time you are enjoying a Moscow Mule (above left) you might try to remember the story of "The Boy With The Golden Cup", and how Santa Claus saved him from slavery. In my homily today, I talked about St. Nicholas, who is the original Santa Claus. Above center is a bottle of "St. Nicholas Oil" Above right is an ancient icon of St. Nicholas.

Santa prays to Jesus. Just saying. St. Nicholas would be glad to talk to Jesus on your behalf, if you ask him to do so.

December 5, 2018 Mass Commentary

"Freedom from Want" is the promise that Jesus makes to us, and yet all of us want for something. In this recording, I talk about the Advent season, and how Advent is a time when we gain a greater awareness of how God has provided for us, even though we still have this desire to want more. It is also a time of seeing how God has made us instruments of his provision for others.

Rest in Peace President Bush. Above left is a photo of my friend Marty Green with then Vice President Bush. He was part of Vice President Bush's staff back in 1986.

Just recently I got some "Advent" Gifts. Above center is St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Above right is Our Lady of the Cape. Bottom left is Mary, Untier of Knots. Bottom center is two bottles of Stella Artois which is named after the Christmas Star. And below right is one of the more unusual yard decorations that have been posted on Facebook, which makes reference to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

In the Illinois State Capitol Building you have three Christmas Displays: the Hunukkah Menorah which celebrates the miracle of freedom; the Nativity scene which celebrates the miracle that led to our liberation from sin; and the apple offered by the Devil to Adam and Eve which is the freedom to know sin, suffering, and slavery to the Devil. Of course, Satanist would consider the apple the greatest gift, because "knowledge is the greatest gift." With that knowledge humanity was able to be free of God.

Of course, we Christians would have a different perspective on the apple. Knowledge is not the greatest gift. Love is the greatest gift. Without love, knowledge turns into tyranny. And then we all wonder why the State of Illinois is having so much trouble.

Dec. 4, 2018 Mass Commentary

Above left is a photo of the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey that Nancy Day gave me. It took me a couple weeks of eating ham and turkey for lunch and dinner to get this point. So, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment in those moments when everything else seems to fail. It has a connection to today's saint- St. John Damascene (a.k.a. St. John of Damascus) as well as to the Advent scripture readings for Mass. I also make a connection between St. John Damascene and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we hear about in our first reading from Mass.

This episode is actually about Michael Psellos (above) the leading professor at the University of Constantinople, bearing the honorary title of "Chief of the Philosophers" who lived around 1096 AD. In this podcast- today's saint- St. John Damascene- is mentioned a few times.

It is hosted by Robin Pierson (bottom left) who before this podcast was a TV critic.

Dec. 3, 2018 Mass Commentary

In this recording, I talk about mountains that we end up climbing, and cracks in walls that cause us to see that many of those mountains that we agonize over are glorified mole hills. Attached to this recording is a photo taken in 2014 of thousand of Catholic pilgrims converging on Goa in India to see the relics of St. Francis Xavier. Once every 10 years they are put on public display, and the casket is brought out in procession and taken to the nearby Cathedral.

To show you how hip and groove I am, Here is the message that Pastor Jim Crozier wrote in the December 2018 issue of "The Flame" which is the Newsletter for the Port Byron Methodist Church:

Food for Thought

In the first 1200 years of Christianity, the great feast, hands down, was Easter, including the Holy Week that led up to the celebration of the resurrected Christ. Then in the 1200’s, along came Francis of Assisi (St. Francis as we know him today) and Francis thought we didn’t need to wait for Easter to fully experience God’s love. He thought we should start with the big Christian feast, Christmas. It wasn’t until the 1300’s that the idea became popular and it’s that idea that we celebrate some 800 years later. Francis said trees should be filled with lights to show what we already know, and that is that the Light of the world is already here. So Christmas is not so much about celebrating what happened 2000 years ago but celebrating the Universal Christ, the Cosmic Christ that is being born every day in the human soul and his-tory.

But first and foremost we have to make sure there’s room at the inn for such a mystery, because right now for many of us there isn’t (room at the inn). Christmas is not just about God the father and God the son, it’s much bigger than that from a human standpoint. It’s about God saying yes to the material uni-verse; God saying yes to physicality, to that which is tangible. I think that is what Advent, the eternal Ad-vent, is for most of us. It’s the reality that God can and will be revealed through matter. We’re always waiting for matter to become a new apparition in which God the Spirit is revealed. And when the Spirit becomes revealed, that’s Christmas. I think this is what Francis was saying about Christmas, the big cele-bration feast.

This Pastor’s Moment was adapted from Father Richard Rohr’s Advent devotion for 2018. It is available in its entirety on the website for the Center of Action and Contemplation ( I highly recom-mend this website as well as any of Father Rohr’s books, videos, and daily meditations for developing a deeper sense of spirituality.

Pastor Jim

I don't know why I decided to read this today. I get "The Flame" via email, but most of the time I don't have the time to read it. I found interesting that he was quoting Fr. Richard Rohr, a Catholic Franciscan priest, who is very popular among those in "progressive" and "liberal" circles. I know that some parishioners have made it known to me that they prefer the posting of Fr. Rohr to anything I might post. So, there you are. When you have a Methodist minister quoting Fr. Rohr, I don't know if that makes him Catholic in his thinking, or whether that makes Fr. Rohr Methodist in his thinking. Or maybe that only shows that we have some common ground with the local protestants. Judge for yourself:

Dec. 2, 2018 Mass Commentary

In this recording, I explain that without Jesus as a reference point for all our actions and all the events of our lives, time just ends up slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. For myself, I don’t care to live life that way. I want to fly like an eagle to the eternal sea. I want to fly like an eagle, and let the Spirit carry me.

Dec. 1, 2018 Mass Commentary

Tonight we begin the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent. As part of that celebration, we will light the first candle on the Advent Wreath which represents Divine Hope. Supposedly, each of the four candles have a meaning. Above right, you see this family didn't set up Christmas decorations, but rather they set up an Advent Wreath outside. In the center of the wreath is the Nativity scene without any figurines, because Jesus won't arrive until Christmas.

You could say that this morning’s liturgy (the Dec. 1st 8:00 AM Mass) was the Advent of our Advent. We are poised on the brink of the Season of Advent: a time of anticipation; a time meant to instill in us a new hope for the Lord’s coming. This morning's Mass readings for the last day of ordinary time merely accentuate that sense of hopeful expectation.

Being today is Saturday- a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary- it seems only right and fitting- that we should meditation on Mary as the Mother of Divine Hope.

Above center is an image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

Above left is an image of Our Lady of Lourdes. It was at Lourdes that Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.

Above right is a depiction of Mary as Mother of Divine Hope.

Nov. 30, 2018 Mass Commentary

Nov. 29, 2018 Mass Commentaries

Today you get two homilies for the price of one. Lucky you!

The first one I am highlighting is a homily I gave at the school Mass of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Academy which is on the campus of St. Anne's in East Moline.

The second one is a homily that I gave at the 8:00 AM Mass at St. John's entitled "Black Vestments."

In this recording, I tell you (the happy few who believe in Jesus), that we have the honor of being invited to the royal wedding, but not the royal wedding that got all the attention recently:

Yesterday, I was asked by a parishioner "Why the Black Vestments?" I was wearing this vestment- a black chasuble- that you see here to the left. I gave him a real quick answer: "I offered today a votive mass for the dead. This is something I do in November on days when there is not an already prescribed liturgical feast." I have been thinking about it for the last 24 hours, and I have come to the conclusion that "I didn't give him a good answer. That answer would have generated three more questions which I didn't answer." In this recording, I give a more flushed out answer as to why I wear this vestment in November, and where it came from.

This black chasuble was here at St. John's when I arrived. I have no idea about the origins of this vestment. Notice the gold embroidery on the black.

Nov. 28, 2018 Mass Commentary

A woman who was coming out after Mass last Sunday asked me, "Father, Is the world coming to an end?" With the White Snow Armageddon that we have recently experienced around here, and wild fires in California, I myself can't help but to wonder. In this recording, I caution you not to build a bunker somewhere in the mountains, thinking that this will save you from the final coming of Christ.

Nov. 27, 2018 Mass Commentary

In this recording, I try to show the connection between today's first reading for Mass(taken from the Book of Revelation) and the words of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" written by Juliet Ward Howe. Bottom right is a photo of a Catholic priest offering Mass in a tent for Union Soldiers during the American Civil War. Bottom left is a field hospital during the Civil War.

Nov. 26, 2018 Mass Commentary

Nothing is moving all that quick this morning. We had a big snow fall last night, and from what I understand there is a snow advisory for today. So, I'm not planning on going anywhere today. I was able to shovel a small path to the church, but the parking lot has yet to be plowed, and Wayne won't be able to clear the sidewalk until this afternoon. So, being we are all snowed in, I might as well post my homily for today, which is built on the first reading of Mass which is from the Book of Revelation (14:1-6).

Being Cyber Monday, and tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, in today's homily, I also made my yearly appeal, to the folks out there in Cyber Space- to those folks who like the fact that we post all this stuff online- to consider making a little donation to my parish, so we can continue to offer this service free of charge. We could use the money. Our parish has been operating at a deficit for the last three years now. So, any help you could give us, in addition to your typical contribution, would be most appreciated.

Francois doesn't care whether it snows or not. He doesn't care about the stuff that I try to do online. All he wants to do is to sit on my chest, and lick the wax out of my ear. I hope you have a higher level of interest in the things that I present to you than Francois.

Nov. 25, 2018 Mass Commentary

Even Elvis- the King of Rock n' Roll- knew Jesus is the true King of Kings. He acknowledged this publicly. But as kings go, Jesus is a strange and odd king. In this recording of my homily, I talk about the ways Jesus does the exact opposite of what you would expect a king to do.

Nov. 24, 2018 Mass Commentary

We won't be the olive trees that we hear about in our first reading from Mass from the Book of Revelation- if we refuse to drink from the same cup that our Lord drank from- which is the cup of affliction. The Martyrs of Vietnam- who we honor today- had an acute understanding of this. Today the Church recognizes 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Being Saturday, a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I am reminded that many Vietnamese have found comfort beneath the protective mantle of the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of La Vang (above right). In this recording, I try to explain that the faith of the Vietnamese people has been strengthened through the powerful intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Nov. 23, 2018 Mass Commentary

Yesterday for Thanksgiving, I spent the afternoon with my sister at her "boyfriend's" house, and visited with his family. He is quite the cook as you see. I also stopped by Larry and Kay Shank's house and visited with their family (bottom right).

But now, I'm back to work, and I got plenty to do. Bills to pay, a bulletin to proof read, three homilies to prepare for tomorrow. I also have Rodney Bergland's Funeral tomorrow. I also need to come up with petitions and announcements for Sunday Mass.

If you were to listen to NPR or Fox Radio this morning, you would think that the only thing that is occurring today in our world is the Black Friday Sales (above left) at your favorite retailer. But in this homily, I try to raise your awareness of the other issues that are confronting our country;there are other caravans of people (above right) besides than the ones that are traveling to malls to immerse themselves in an orgy of materialistic self-indulgence which has become part of the branding of the American way of life.

Below are some photos of the execution of Blessed Miguel Pro. He was not the only martyr of the Christiada as you see above. This religious persecution in Mexico led to the Cristero War. This conflict was dramatized by the movie For Greater Glory which came out in 2012.

The Church also honors a couple of other saints on the universal calendar which I never get around to talking about.

To the bottom left is St. Clement of Rome who was the third successor to St. Peter as the Bishop of Rome (the pope).

To the bottom right is a stamp issued in Ireland to mark the 1,400th anniversary of the death of St Columban.

Nov. 22, 2018 Mass Commentary

Nov. 21, 2018 Mass Commentary

Today's Memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple can be easily overlooked because of all our Thanksgiving Day preparations, but perhaps this hidden event in Mary's life could teach us a few things about thanksgiving being thanks-giving, and not thanks-taking. In this recording I try to connect Saints Joachim and Anne's stewardship with the teaching on stewardship that we hear about in today's gospel.

Five years ago, I gave this homily on Thanksgiving Day:

Nov. 20,2018 Mass Commentary

Above is the "Coming to the Light" scene from the 1980 film "Blues Brothers" where Jake Blues comes to see the light, which in turn sends him and his brother on "a mission from God" albeit a misguided mission with morally illicit methods to complete that mission. In this recording, I talk about the process of coming to see the light of Christ, and how the last vestiges of spiritual blindness will be removed for us in Purgatory.

Below is what is left of Laodicea on the Lycus that we hear about in the Book of Revelation.

Below left is a photo of a brush fire that occurred in Virginia on - no kidding- Purgatory Mountain.

Paragraph 1031 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church- which is contained within the larger section of the afterlife- says this: "The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607 "

Nov. 19, 2018 Mass Commentary

In terms of the the first reading at Mass,, we begin a two week presentation on the Book of Revelation, the last book of the bible, the book that gives us the most information on the end of time and the second coming of Jesus. In this section, the People of Ephesus are told to rediscover their "first love." I can't help but to find many applications of this text to our current situation in the Church, especially with the things that have transpired- or more accurately that which didn't transpire- at the Bishop's meeting in Baltimore last week concerning the clergy scandals.

Above are a couple of photos that display the frustrations and anguish of some of our bishops at this meeting.

Nov. 18, 2018 Mass Commentary

Everything will be alright. Everything will be O.K. You'll have a really good, good life; that's what the therapists say. But Jesus has something better than "alright" and "o.k." to offer us. In this recording, I also talking about the fact that the parking meter is running out on Planet Earth.

People put strange things on their tombstones.

In the liturgical season, but also in the seasons of the year, and in the seasons of life, I do see this constant cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. But it's not a never ending and meaningless cycle. Rather, it is more like a spiral, or perhaps like a wave of current that moves us to our final destiny.

Nov. 17, 2018 Mass Commentary

Today’s saint- St. Elizabeth of Hungary - is one of many saints who have experienced the "Miracle of the Roses". This "Miracle of the Roses" ties in well with both themes I want to highlight this morning; that today is Saturday, a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and this is the month of November, the month in which we pray in a special way for the souls in purgatory.

In this recording, I also make a connection with this miracle and the miracle of the roses that occurred in connection with the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531.

Formed is a new online faith formation resource, basically a Catholic "Netflix" with top-notch videos about the Catholic faith. Formed is FREE for all the parishioners of our cluster: St. John's; St. Mary's; Our Lady of Guadalupe in Silvis; and St. Anne of East Moline. Our parish has paid an annual subscription fee so that it is free for you to use. To sign up, simply go to the formed website and sign up with our parish code. If you need the parish code, just email me; I will send it to you. I would be glad to show you how you can access it. Just make an appointment with me.

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