From: Mary Zimmerman
Sunday, July 8, we arrived at church a bit early. As I passed through the commons I stopped for a moment visualizing my family all gathered there for the jubilant celebration of our 60th wedding anniversary just weeks ago. We were so happy and proud of all our six children and most of our grandchildren being there. I sensed they were proud of us as well for having weathered the storms of life, but we certainly experienced the joys as well.
I decided to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a powerful prayer Jesus gave Sister Faustina in the 1930s. As usual I begged for Godís graces and blessings upon my dear family. I began to feel a tear rolling down my face. Perhaps it was for joy, knowing God heard me, trusting He will surely respond...in His time.
Shortly before Mass, Amazing Grace was sung. That too brought back memories of Katrina, a 12-year-old girl sharing her beautiful voice singing that song for our anniversary Mass.
Then Mass started. Father Jim Berning just made it come alive, from the beginning to the end accompanied by beautiful music. You just never know what the sermon may be all about. This Sunday Father came down the aisle singing ĎHigh Hopesí - we have high hopes, the song by Frank Sinatra. There is so much food for thought in that song. Love is the #1 virtue but hope is certainly closely related. The gift of gratitude is also very important.
Father Berning has that gift. I recently got a thank you note from him in the mail for a mere few pieces of cereal candy. Bishop Quinn as well sent me a thank you note for a letter and a few of my articles. I canít tell you how much your encouragement meant to me. I say Bishop Quinn, youíre the greatest. Gratitude is surely one of Godís choicest graces, to appreciate the kind acts of another person by saying thank you.
Back to the Mass. Father used the word ďoperativeĒ a lot in his sermon (means having an influence). Perhaps we should ask ourselves, are we influencing other people in a positive Christian manner? Father was so excited to share with us that he had a baptism at 4:30 p.m. Saturday Mass and another one at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Such a joy in helping someone become a child of God.
Then we got to the highlight of the Mass, Holy Communion time. You can be sure Father Jim will say your name as he gives you the Body of Christ. Itís almost as if we hear the voice of Jesus himself.
The closing song ending the Mass was ďGod Has Chosen Me.Ē My take on that song is to live out our vocation well, spreading the gospel along the way. I say thank you Father Jim Berning for giving us your all as as priest, chosen by God to be at St. Maryís. God has chosen you.
I write all this not to bribe Catholics away from their present parish (my husband and I attend weekday Mass at the Cathedral and they have wonderful priests, as well as the rest of the parishes in Winona). Itís especially for those who are not affiliated with a church and fallen away Catholics. We just say Father Berning holds the doors of St. Maryís, 1303 West Broadway, open to welcome you in.
I challenge you to come witness a Sunday Mass with Father Jim Berning. I dare to say you canít leave without your heart being touched in some way. If you attend a few times Iím quite sure you will hunger for more. You will soon realize youíre forming the best habit youíve ever experienced - praying and praising our loving God who died for you upon a cross that you may enjoy heaven for all eternity. Thank you Jesus.