April 22:  Today is one of my FAVORITE Sundays of the whole year – It’s GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY!!!!!  And everyone knows that we Shelties are worldwide renowned sheep dogs.  Well I’m thinking I’m the best little Sheltie to tell you just how awesome this day is!

Really, one of Mother Church’s messages for today is for all of us to become good shepherds to one another: “to love others just as the Good Shepherd loves each of us!”  Everyone who is entrusted with the care of others is a shepherd.  Hence pastors, parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, government officials, etc. are all shepherds.  We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. 

There’s a beautiful story of a soldier dying on a Korean battlefield who asked for a priest.  The Medic could not find one.  A wounded man lying nearby heard the request and said, “I am a priest.” The Medic turned to the speaker and saw his condition, which was as bad as that of the other.  “It will kill you if you move,” he warned. But the wounded chaplain replied, “The life of a man’s soul is worth more than a few hours of my life.”  He then crawled to the dying soldier, heard his confession, gave him absolution and the two died hand in hand.”  That’s a Good Shepherd! 

As a good sheep dog, I know that even the squirrels need someone to watch over them, so I guess I have my hands (paws) full keeping them in line, protecting them from predators, and keeping my Dad’s back yard a beautiful place!!  

April 15:  Squirrels, just like most humans (but never Shelties!) sometimes do things so regularly that they don’t often think about what they are doing and sometimes why they are doing it?!!  Like our attendance and coming to Church.  I’ve come across this list of 20 things to do and not to do in Mass that should be a good reminder for all of us on proper Mass Etiquette.  This week I’ll present 10 of these Mass etiquette tips! 

Fast before Mass. It is Church law that one fasts for at least 1 hour before receiving Holy Communion. Water and medicine can be consumed, of course. The purpose is to help us prepare to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. 

No food and drink in church. The exceptions would be a drink for small children, water for the priest or choir (if discreet) and water for those who are ill. Bringing a snack into church is not appropriate because we want to set the church apart as a place of prayer and reflection.

Men, take your hats off. It is impolite to wear a hat into a church for a man. While this is a cultural norm, it is one that we ought to follow closely. Just as we take off hats for the Pledge of Allegiance, we do so in church, too, as a sign of respect.

Don’t chew gum in church. It breaks your fast, it is distracting, it is considered impolite in a formal setting, and it doesn’t help us pray better. Can you imagine the Pope popping gum during Mass?

Cross yourself with Holy Water on entering and leaving the church. This is a reminder of our Baptism, which made us members of Christ’s Church. Just try to remain mindful of what is happening when you do so and don’t do it without saying a prayer.

Dress modestly and appropriately. Wear your Sunday Best. As Catholics we believe that God comes down to meet us at every Mass. So, why would we not dress up? 

Show up at least a few minutes early. If for some reason you can’t be on time, then try to sit in the back so you don’t disturb others. Getting to Mass early allows you to pray and prepare yourself better for Mass.

Cell phones should never be used in Mass for calls or texting. The exceptions are emergencies (big ones, not everyday ones) and if you do use one, please walk out of church to do so. However, if you are using the phone for readings or prayers, this is appropriate, but try to be discreet.

Don’t sit on the edge of the pew if you sit down before others. Rather, sit in the middle so others don’t have to climb over you. Furthermore – Gentlemen offer their seats to a any lady (elderly, disabled, etc.) who must stand. 

When we enter and leave Church, genuflect toward the Tabernacle. Christ is present for our sake. By allowing our right knee to hit the floor, we acknowledge He is our Lord and God. If someone is physically unable to genuflect, then a bow is sufficient. During Mass, if you pass in front of the altar or tabernacle, bow reverently.

April 8:  Boy, my Dad’s sure been antsy lately now that he’s back to drinking coffee.  He sure missed that morning cup of morning joe that gave him that necessary pick up he needed.  He’s making up for missed coffee now!!  I need to stay out of his way as he’s bouncing all over the place!!

So, some of my squirrel friends have asked about the various proofs of the resurrection my Dad talked about Easter morning.  As secular society disclaims the Resurrection and perhaps takes for granted our history and Christ’s redemptive paschal mystery, it’s important to know and embrace all Christ has done for us.  As a review for everyone, I’m printing the 15 “proofs” that the Resurrection really did occur!  They are:

1. The empty tomb.
2. The tomb had a Roman seal.
3. The tomb had a Roman guard stationed there.
4. The tomb had a stone in front of it.
5. There were post-resurrection appearances, to hundreds.
6. The martyrdom of witnesses offers proof.
7. There is still a church.
8. Jesus prophesied that it was going to happen.
9. It was prophesied in the Old Testament.
10. The day of worship changed.
11. The practice of sacrifice changed.
12. It is unique among other world religions.
13. The message is self-authenticating.
14. The miraculous ending fits a miraculous life.
15. (and the only answer we really need) …  Jesus is still the answer!!

April 1 (EASTER):  Happy Easter everyone! You know I’ve been having more fun borrowing my Dad’s computer and writing my DOGmatic theology columns, just hoping that I’m helping people understand just a little more about the Catholic Church and why it’s so AWESOME to be Catholic.  (My Dad’s often jealous most people read my column before his!!)  But we both believe just as Bishop Sheen had said, “There aren’t 10 people in the U.S. that hate the Catholic Church. There are thousands that don’t understand, but ANYONE, who does understand the Church, the teachings, and the love of God, can’t help but love, embrace and live the wonderful faith of our Church. 
So on this Easter Sunday I’ve come up with 10 reasons why it’s just plain awesome to be Catholic. And they are:
10)   Better than Sunday morning cable shows.
9)   See if you're still allergic to incense.
8)   If it was good enough for Mother Teresa, it should be good enough for you.
7)   Sacrament of Confession a lot cheaper than therapy.
6)   The Eucharist is a dieter's dream. It only fattens the soul.
5)   Confirm that, yes, there are kids that scream even louder than yours.
4)   All are welcome; only our Founder is perfect.
3)   Skip your breakfast, if necessary, but not the Bread of Life.
2)   You think it's hot here in August?
1)   Even with a billion members, we could still use one more.
Yes, I would even invite the squirrels to come cause Sacred Heart’s an Awesome place to be and I’m kinda hoping that I see all of you next Sunday, and the next Sunday, and the next…….. 

For more of Maggie's musings, see our online bulletin archives.  Maggie's column appears on page 3.