From Father Ken's Quill

Father Ken Halbur is the Pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Parish in Ankeny, Iowa and these posts are letters written in the church’s weekly bulletin.

Learning From Change

As I write this article, I am recovering from my surgery, and one of the interesting things is how you have to adapt how you do things differently. With the use of only one arm for a while, I am trying to get used to doing some simple and basic things much differently, one of the interesting things that is challenging is just getting dressed in the morning (go ahead and try putting on a pair of socks or a belt only using one arm.) As I have been out of the office (mostly) I have been reading some from The Life of Theresa of Jesus by Theresa of Avila. Her life reminds me that I need to be humble and ask for help and not to try and do everything myself, which tends to be the way I do things, not because I have a need to do everything myself, but in my mind, I do not want to bother others. I am grateful for the meals that have been provided and they were all very good. I am also grateful for the help that my parents have done in getting me back and forth to appointments as well as taking care of me right after the surgery, it is wonderful that they are so close now.

Speaking of changes in how things I do things, I am sure that you have noticed a few minor changes in how we do things. As St. Luke’s grows, it will be constantly undergoing many changes, some of them will be small and barely noticeable, some will affect many. It is not my intention to make many major changes, if I can help it, but some do need to be done because of circumstances. One of the big ones coming up is the change of the day of the School Mass. When Mrs. Hade and I were looking at the schedule, we realized that if we kept Mass on Friday for the school, the kids would miss 9 Friday Masses because of the schedule, but if we moved it to Wednesday, we would only miss 4 and most of those would be around holidays anyway. We then brought it to the School Board and Parish Council to discuss it, and they thought that it would be good. So, beginning on August 28th and there following, Wednesday Mass will be at 8:30 with the St. Luke’s School students instead of 7:45 and the Friday Mass beginning on the 30th will be at 7:45. When I was in Creston, I loved seeing the school kids participating in the Mass with doing the readings and other ministries. I got so many comments from people amazed at how good the kids did in front of a group, and I am sure that it will be the same here. I know that I speak for Mrs. Hade and myself in saying we are so looking forward to beginning the school and RE year!

Fr. Ken

Going Phishing?

Have you ever gone through your email junk mail folder and looked at some of the titles of emails that are being sent? Sometimes they are humorous, sometimes disgusting, sometimes they are so bad that you just wonder who would fall for some of these scams. I personally have received hundreds of offers to help someone process millions of dollars from dying or deceased relatives in Africa. Being that my email address is part of a church account, I also get messages stating that someone has left millions to be given away to a church and all I have to do is to contact them and we would get lots of money.

A majority of computer viruses come from following the links in emails, even if they seem like they come from people we know. The fact is that we still receive hundreds of them a week, because it is easy to send them, it costs the sender very little, and they sometimes work. The whole reason that they work is because they appeal to our pride and desire for something more. The senders of the emails attack our pride and desire from different ways, some from the material aspect, “all you have to do is to respond to this email and I will deposit a portion of the $25 million that my husband left me into your bank account.” Some of these emails tug at our body image, “you can lose weight or enhance your body if you follow this link.” Some work at our emotions, they ask if you are lonely and need a friend or a “friend”, just respond and the most beautiful person in the world will come running after you. Some of them tug at our ego that says that we can have more friends or having people follow us online. Each of us has a soft spot for something or has a strong desire for something that we would really like to have.

Around a parish, here especially, money is a big thing. With lots of money, we could pay off the debt to the building, pay off the ADA, hire more staff, increase salaries, add on to the building, buy more supplies, the list is endless. All of us want to be happy and successful each in different ways and these emails go after those desires in different ways. We have a natural desire to be happy and getting something off the internet is not going to help us to be happy, it may bring a short-term pleasure, but it will never really bring us true happiness. We can be truly happy by following our faith in Jesus Christ and by fostering those good relationships on earth that can draw us closer to God, that is something that we can work on in our prayer life and it is something that we cannot receive via email.

Fr. Ken

Is Technology Good or Evil

We live in interesting times, it is often called the Electronic or the Internet Age, because we are so connected and so attached to our electronic devices. I am one who is guilty of this as well. I rarely go anywhere without my cell phone, which means that I have access to people and the Internet almost everywhere I go. I even find myself complaining when the service is not very good. Even with that our access to technology and connectedness is not always that bad, it is just like any other tool that we have, it can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. You can use your phone to look for seedy material or to launch personal attacks on people or, you could use it to look up information on the saints or for prayer help. In many ways praying in the digital age can be easier. So, if you see me sitting in church with my phone out, I am not texting, playing games, or checking out websites, I am using it to assist my prayer life. There are many different applications that you can download that can assist you in prayer. I myself use a number of different applications on my phone or tablet to pray. One of those is called ibreviary in which I can pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is a prayer that priests and religious promise to pray every day. I also use my phone to look at and to meditate on the Mass readings for the day and weekend with an app called imissal and another called “Laudate” this app has the Mass readings, links to the books of the bible, and hundreds of common and not so common prayers. I also have an audio version of the Bible on my phone and on long drives, I will sometimes listen to Holy Scripture instead of the radio. We often will rant against the use of technology and in some ways how it is harming our personal relationships, especially when we spend time on our electronic devices instead of talking to people, but we also have a greater ability to keep in touch with our friends and family that are far away. I have had a number of people that use either an app or a list to take into confession so that they can remember what they want to confess as they sit in the confessional. And just a side note: no, you cannot go to confession via a text well… you can confess whatever you want, however you cannot receive absolution via text. We often carry our phones with us and if we have these apps on our phones, it gives us a wonderful opportunity to pray in times and places that we don’t even think about, like in a restaurant while we are waiting for our food. As we live in such a busy society, we sometimes need to be creative in how we pray, but keep doing it!

Fr. Ken

Settling In

The summer just seems to be flying by, and there is so much going on this summer. With the move, I keep having people ask if I am settling in here. I am, and there is still so much I need to learn about being here and serving everyone here. This week however, I will be taking a break from things, Thursday the 1st I will be having surgery on my rotator cuff because I tore a tendon. This means that I will be out of the office for a few days, and will not be at the Masses next weekend, but I will be available sometime in a week or so. My plan is to be back pretty quick, but I may not be fully engaged for a little while, but I will be involved.

Since I will only have use of one arm for 5-6 weeks, I have asked that the deacons serve at every weekend Mass for a couple of months. This will give me some help at the altar, and I may be asking for some help with other things as well. I will also need to be gone a little more often over the next few months so that I can do my physical therapy. Fr. Amadeo and Fr. Downey will also be helping out around here as needed, they also may cover a Mass each weekend for the next few months just to help out. It will work out just fine. Keep me in your prayers this Thursday.

Something else big happened last week, we now have a new bishop named, Bishop elect William Joensen and he will be ordained a bishop in September at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I ask that you also keep Bishop Pates and Bishop-Elect Joensen in your prayers as they transition. Officially on July 18th, Bishop Pates is no longer the bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines, so you may have noticed (if I remembered to do it), that we skip the line about praying for the bishop during Mass. This is because we officially do not have an ordinary (bishop) of the diocese from the time the bishop’s resignation is accepted until the time in which the new bishop is ordained and or installed. Bishop-elect Joensen will be ordained and installed as the 10th bishop of Des Moines on September 27th at St Francis of Assisi church. This will be a wonderful day for the diocese, so keep the date open so that you can join the people of the diocese in welcoming him.

I know that this has been a summer of many changes here at St. Luke’s, but in the end, we will be stronger. Keep praying for all of us here at the parish, as well as all of the people of the diocese.

Fr. Ken