6/9/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Pope St. John XXIII reasoned that the substance of the Church’s ancient doctrine/teaching is one thing.  The way in which it is expressed or taught is another.  Sometimes we must change our attitude, our language, or our ways in order to truly maintain and pas on the Faith so that it might be received by the next generation.  We maintain the message and purpose, but the language and approach can vary. 

St. Paul in our first reading (2 Corinthians 3:4-11) argues that change in the religious thinking of Christians in Corinth is necessary because the old covenant (Law of Moses) is fulfilled in the new covenant (wrought in the death and resurrection of Jesus).  The letter of the Law must give way to the Spirit in order to fulfill God’s plan.  Jesus argues in the Gospel (Matthew 5:17-19) that he has come to fulfill the Torah.  The Torah is still valid, but a change is still necessary.

It is a balancing act: to change, but also to preserve, to hold onto, but also to let go.  Many people are inclined to go with one extreme or another – to cling to what is old and reject the new, or vice versa.  But as is often the case with the truth and matters of our faith, a person’s approach must be “both/and” rather than exclusively “either/or.”  To put it into political terms, it’s not that we be a conservative or a liberal, but a conservative/liberal, or vice versa.

God bless you, 

Fr. Jesse Burish


6/2/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Distress has a way of bringing people together in a way nothing else can, even people of differing social or economic backgrounds.  In today’s first reading from Tobit (3:1-11), we have the prayers of two people in distress: Tobit and Sarah.  They are different people in different places in different kinds of difficulty.  He is blinded and she has no children because her husband had died.  Both prayed to God.  Their prayer is heard and God sends the archangel Raphael to bring them healing.  The lives of two very different people will intersect.  Through Raphael, Tobit’s blindness will be healed and Sarah will marry his son and have a family.

One thread that runs through the book of Tobit is that of God’s Providence.  There are people in our life who are instruments of healing for us.  People come into our life, we come to know them, work with them, live near them, and maybe pray with them.  While they are with us, they can be instruments of God’s grace.  They might challenge us, deepen us, and vividly exhibit some virtue we may have forgotten or thought quaint.  They may strengthen us.  They are like the archangel Raphael to us.  Often, we don’t realize this until much later.

It is a spiritually healthy practice to review occasionally all the people who have entered our life over the years and what we have discerned or learned to appreciate through them.  The book of Tobit was written to remind us that God’s Providence is at work in our life in two ways.  He sends “Raphaels in disguise” our way as an answer to our prayer.  He might also be using us to be a “Raphael in disguise” and answer somebody else’s prayer.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/26/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Philip Neri, born in 1515 in Florence, Italy.  At an early age, Philip abandoned his chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome and began devoting his life to God.  After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he temporarily gave up the idea of being a priest and spent the next 13 years doing something very unusual for a layperson of his time: being actively engaged in a life of prayer and a special apostolate of deepening and renewing the life of faith in the Church, particularly in Rome.

The Council of Trent, which lasted from 1545-1563 was conducting many doctrinal reforms and clarifications of Church teaching following the Protestant Reformation.  What St. Philip Neri did was take a more grassroots approach to bringing people to conversion on all levels of society.  He gathered around himself a group of laypersons who met for informal prayer, discussion and hymn singing.  They also served the poor in Rome.

Eventually he was ordained a priest and became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the ability to address the heart of the matter in a charitable way and often with a joke.  He also led little excursions or pilgrimages to different churches in Rome with music and a picnic along the way.  Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community.  This became known as the Oratory, the religious institute he founded.

St. Philip’s advice was sought after by many of the prominent figures of his day.  He was one of the influential figures of the “counter-reformation,” mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself.  His great virtues were humility and joyfulness.  St. Philip’s life and virtues show us that one may have an attractive and joking personality combined with an intense spirituality and holiness.  His approach to sanctity was truly Catholic – humble, because he did not take his life or himself too seriously, and faithful, because he loved Jesus Christ and his Church and desired to bring others back to deeper union with him.  May we ask for those same contagious virtues in our own life of faith.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/19/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In today’s Gospel (John 17:11b-19), Jesus prays that his disciples may be one.  The Latin phrase is “ut num sint.”  This has become the motto as it were for the ecumenical movement.  It is also the title of an apostolic letter written by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1995.  For what is the Lord praying in today’s Gospel?  Surely Christ is praying for the visible unity of all his followers that will convince the world, torn by so many differences, that his followers are indeed fulfilling his own mission in the world, to gather what had been fractured by sin. 

But Jesus is praying for more than institutional unity.  That will ultimately be accomplished “from the top.”  The other kind of unity for which the Lord prays is unity of spirit and care.  This is a level on which we can all operate.  John Paul II stated in his apostolic letter that outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church is not an ecclesial vacuum.  Certainly many of us know other Christians who are deeply committed to the Word of God who are heroic in Christian service and dedicated to prayer.  And we can share with them a list of martyrs who have died for their faith in Christ.  We can collaborate – and we do collaborate – with them in works of charity.  We can join them in raising high the name and person of Jesus Christ.

Older generations, I know, were often raised to see non-Catholics as enemies.  With younger generations, following Vatican II, many perceived that there were no significant differences with non-Catholics.  Both of these extreme positions seem to miss the mark when it comes to reaching Christ’s vision of unity in his Church.  There is a lot we can do together, but we also have to be able to constructively speak about our differences.  Otherwise, “ecumenism” is disingenuous.  Although our institutional unity may be in the future, a unity of heart, mind, and faith among Christians that speaks about our commonalities and confronts where we differ and why we differ is possible today and can bear good fruit. 

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/12/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

So often people whose names would’ve otherwise been forgotten are kept in memory in the Church’s liturgy.  Today we honor Saints Nereus and Achilleus, two martyrs in the first century  of the Church’s life.  The account of their life comes from Pope Damasus I who venerated the catacombs and wrote verse about many of the martyrs buried there. 

Pope Damasus’ inscription concerning Nereus and Achilleus praises the miracle of their gift of faith.  He wrote that they left the camp of their wicked leader (as they were in the Emperor Domitian’s army), threw away their weapons and confirmed their faith in Christ by the shedding of their blood.  Such fidelity is a great miracle.

People are fascinated by miraculous happenings.  Inexplicable events make the entertainment-level news.  Conventional religious miracles receive a great deal of notice.  But there are “miracles” we do not notice.  There is the miracle of fidelity in marriage over many years.  There is the miracle of compassion for someone in great need.  There is the miracle of a sacrificial love for one’s child.  There is the miracle of people giving up sleep in the early morning hours to come to adoration chapel.  These are “miracles” in the sense that they are not common and are also very clear moments when the grace of God is at work.  In all of these instances, society pulls us in the other direction.  Perhaps the early martyrs were honored with churches and liturgical remembrance because many of the early Christians doubted they could show the same kind of courage. 

It is said that Nereus and Achilleus were put to death during a persecution by Domitian.  Nobody knows where Domitian is buried today.  In fact, he was assassinated by his own guard.  Nereus and Achilleus are held up as examples of heroic faith.  They are honored by the Universal Church every year with the hope that we can show the same kind of strength they did.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/5/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

It’s very hard to buy anything these days without “add-ons.”  It’s hard to find a car with only standard equipment.  It’s hard to just get a “basic” Netflix subscription without getting some special package with HD, etc.  So many things are loaded with expensive extras.  We see something similar take place in today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles (15:1-6).  St. Paul brought the Gospel to the gentiles, calling them to repentance and faith in Christ.  But before long, “super apostles” arrived and told the gentiles that Paul’s gospel was too simple.  They needed the “add-ons” of Jewish ceremonial law such as circumcision and the kosher dietary rules.  Otherwise, they were not fit for the Kingdom.  St. Paul reacted strongly to this because it seemed to diminish the all-sufficient power of the cross and faith in the Lord Jesus.  That is an important teaching for all of us.  Salvation comes from faith and Baptism into Christ Jesus. 

Some non-Catholics, and even some Catholics, see Catholic devotions and sacramentals (like medals and holy pictures) as such add-ons and distractions.  But rather, we have them to strengthen faith.  They serve as reminders of the Lord, Mary, and the saints.  Sacramentals do not replace the sacraments but extend their power into our life.  The center of our faith remains repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps every age has its own “add-ons” or “religious accessories,” as they can be called, unfortunately.  They do not substitute for our connection to Christ.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  Perhaps such things can ease the transfer of the juice of the vine to us who are the branches.  Devotions and sacramentals flourish within the long tradition of the Church, but it is still the same grace of Christ that gives all of us life and salvation.

God bless you, 

Fr. Jesse Burish  


4/28/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

St. Louis Marie de Montfort, whose memorial is celebrated today, is perhaps known most for his devotion to the Blessed Mother and his prayer of entrustment to her, “Totus tuus ergo sum,” meaning, “I am all yours.”  St. John Paul II used this phrase “Totus Tuus” as his episcopal motto.

St. Louis was born in Montfort, France in the province of Brittany on January 31, 1673.  As a child he had a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary through the Rosary.  While at school he exhibited a love for the poor and joined a society of young men who ministered to the poor and sick on school holidays.  At age 19, he walked 130 miles to Paris to study theology, gave all he had to the poor on the way, and made a vow to live only on alms.  At 27 he was ordained a priest and served as a hospital chaplain until the management of the hospital resented his reorganization of the staff and sent him away.

At the age of 32, he discovered he had a great gift of preaching and committed the rest of his life to it.  He often drew crowds of thousands to hear his sermons in which he encouraged frequent Communion and devotion to Mary.  But he also met with opposition, especially from the Jansenists, an heretical movement within the Church that believed in absolute predestination in which only a chosen few are saved.  Much of France was influenced by Jansenism, including many bishops, who forbade St. Louis from preaching in their dioceses.  He was even poisoned by Jansenists but survived and suffered poor health afterward.

While recuperating from the effects of the poisoning, he wrote perhaps his best-known book on devotion to Mary, “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”  It’s said that he had the spiritual gift of prophesy and correctly prophesied that his book would be hidden by Satan for a time.  He was right.  His book was discovered 200 years after his death.  Today, it is widely publicized.

God ordained that Mary have a part in our redemption and salvation as the Mother of Jesus.  She is our spiritual mother with whom we must have a relationship.  Many people neglect that relationship or don’t believe it necessary.  The life of St. Louis Marie de Montfort witnesses that there is something to it.  If ever our devotion to Mary has been uncertain or shaky, ask St. Louis to show you the way. 

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


4/21/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

When we hear Jesus speak in today’s Gospel (John 6:35-40), he speaks with a certain rhythm and theological depth.  He uses a lot of words (at least as it is translated into English) and we can find ourselves wondering at the end of it, “what exactly was he saying?”  In today’s passage, Jesus goes from speaking about himself as the bread from heaven (i.e., the Eucharist) to explaining the relationship that exists between himself and God the Father, and that he seeks to do the will of the Father.  Implied here is that he is in full union with God the Father.  God the Father is concerned about our relationship with him and our salvation, and therefore, Jesus his Son is as well.

These lines stood out to me as I reflected on this passage: “whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst… I will not reject anyone who comes to me.”  Jesus, according to the Father’s desire, wants us to believe in him and come to him in everything, both the good and the bad, in peace and security.  Our first reading from Acts of the Apostles (8:1b-8) tells of how persecution broke out in the earliest days of the Church and how believers were scattered.  Stephen was killed and people were imprisoned.  Those scattered still came to the Lord and continued preaching.  They just kept on in relation to him and it bore fruit.  In all circumstances we are to come to the Lord.  This reminds me of an acronym pertaining to staying in relationship: A.R.R.R.  Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond. 

Acknowledge what is going on in your heart/soul/mind that is affecting.  Relate that to the Lord.  (Just tell him what is going on.)  Receive from him. (Let him respond to you.  It may be in a subtle way or not.  It may be a movement in your heart.  It may be immediate, or it may take time.)  Respond to what you receive from the Lord and take action accordingly 

This is the life of believing in the Lord and coming to him in all things as the Father wills.

May God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


4/14/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles (5:17-26) resumes the theme of the hostility of the Jewish leaders to the apostles because of their preaching and healing.  As before, the apostles go from preaching to prison and then back to preaching.  This time an angel of the Lord comes and releases them from prison, creating a very awkward situation later for the guards and court officers.  The apostles’ release is a little bit ironic in that the Sadducees did not believe in angels.  The angel, however, does not simply set them free.  Like the ancient Israelites oppressed in Egypt who were freed “so that they might serve” the Lord, the apostles are freed for a purpose: to go into the Temple area and tell the people “about this Life.”

At this time, there was no name for this new movement.  The term “Christianity” would come a bit later.  Here, the angel calls it “this Life.”  The apostles were called not only to live “this Life,” but also to talk about it and explain it.  In our life of faith, both our actions and words go together.  Hopefully we do both.

God bless you! 

Fr. Jesse Burish


4/7/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I first ask your prayers for me today and throughout this week as I am away at a cabin up north making my annual retreat.

It is a remarkable thing how often we hear in the Gospels that immediately following the Resurrection of Jesus the disciples didn’t recognize him upon seeing him (see today’s Gospel passage Luke 24:13-35).  It just goes to show you the extent to which they were not really expecting Jesus’ death and Resurrection, and how little they really understood Jesus when he spoke about it beforehand.

We as fallen human beings are generally slow at picking up on the ways of God and seeing how the Lord is speaking to us and revealing himself to us.  This is especially the case at times of struggle and difficulty in our lives.  In such moments the words of Jesus to these disciples on the road  to Emmaus come especially clear: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  To me, its almost as if Jesus is saying to every one of us, “Is your faith that shallow that you become so surprised and easily frustrated when you are asked to carry the cross with me every once in a while – when you are being asked to follow me on the road to glory?

Then we may find ourselves looking and begging Jesus to show himself to us, to make us aware of his presence when we feel that we have been abandoned.  Well, here in this Gospel passage Jesus reminds us too, as he did for these disciples on the road to Emmaus that he is profoundly present in the reading of the Scriptures and in the breaking of the bread, i.e., the Eucharist.  Here he is so clear: every time the Mass is celebrated.

Happy Easter!

Fr. Jesse Burish


3/31/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today, Wednesday of Holy Week, used to be referred to as Spy Wednesday because Judas looking for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the chief priest (today’s Gospel passage Matthew 26:14-25).  Judas was trying to see how much he could get for Jesus.  Thirty pieces of silver was all he got, which apparently was not really that much, which leads us to believe that Judas wasn’t merely led to sin by greed, but because he truly resented Jesus and the kind of Messiah he was turning out to be.

At the Mass, we come freely and are given freely the Body and Blood of Jesus that Judas thought he had bought and betrayed.  If only Judas had realized that Jesus would’ve gladly given himself and much more.  Ultimately today is not really about betrayal.  It is really about Jesus freely giving himself to us to forgive us our sins and bring us to life that is full.  This is what he wants to give us for free.  We only are asked to walk with him to the cross.

Have a blessed Triduum,

Fr. Jesse Burish


3/24/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Freedom is a great word.  It is a patriotic word, a proud and potent word, because deep within every human being is a thirst for freedom.  Jesus is speaking to all of us when he says in today’s Gospel (John 8:31-42) that in He we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.  The Lord is reminding us that truth and freedom go together. 

We are proud of our freedom.  Yet if truth and freedom are necessary for each other to exist, how free are we when we live in a society shaped by huge corporations, when our information is selectively filtered through large media empires, when the entertainment industry influences style and morality, when interest groups dominate the direction of our legislatures?  Are we living in a society guided by truth or self-interest?  Truth and freedom go together.

The Jewish people were proud of their freedom.  Although they were dominated by foreign powers, they were not slaves of the Roman Empire.  They knew that because they had God’s Word, their souls would remain free.  The three young men in the fiery furnace from the book of Daniel (3:14-20, 91-92, 95) symbolize this inner freedom that the Jewish people cherished.

Although we are politically free (and this is becoming debatable), within our souls we are dominated by sin and its effects, and by a culture that aggressively promotes values contrary to the Gospel.  We all need liberation on the inside.  The Gospel provides this.  Jesus promises that if we live by his word, we will truly be his disciples, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.  Jesus is the real freedom fighter who came to liberate not our body by our souls from the bondage of sin and half-truths.  To embrace the teaching of Jesus is to embrace truth and to find freedom, which always go together.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


3/17/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame, 

As you are probably well aware, today is the feast day of St. Patrick.  The patron saint of Ireland, Patrick never planned to go to Ireland.  Yet, he went there twice.  The first was against his will and the second was in accord with God’s will.  He was born in Britain around the year 400, was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland.  There, he experienced hunger, humiliation and isolation.  It was there he also began to pray.

Until then, it seems that he had been minimally religious.  Evidently, he discovered God in a profound way.  He developed a real relationship with God that strengthened him spiritually.  After six years, he escaped and went back home.  But he never forgot the people of Ireland.

Once, when he was a priest, he had a dream in which a person from Ireland asked him to “walk with us once more.”  Patrick became a bishop and went to Ireland as a missionary.  Although pockets of the Christian faith existed in Ireland, Patrick built up the institutions of the Church there.  He did so by his preaching and teaching, by his baptizing thousands of people, and by his establishing churches and monasteries as centers of faith and learning.

Gradually, violence went down and learning increased.  Women were treated with dignity.  The Church eventually became so strong that it sent out missionaries to Europe.  The life of St. Patrick can teach us about God’s will in our life.  Difficulties can make us strong.  Patrick’s six years of slavery changed him from being a boy to a strong man of prayer.  All of his experiences shaped him into a saint.  He once remarked that he was a stone in a field and God made him into His sculpture.

That is true of all of us.  Just as a piece of stone is slowly chiseled to reveal a figure, so in everything that happens in our lives we are being sculpted into the image of what God wants us to be.  Patrick’s life centered on Christ.  That is evident in the famous prayer attributed to him: the Lorica or Breastplate of St. Patrick.  In that prayer, he asks Christ to be in front of hm, behind him, at his right, at his left, beneath him and above him.  Christ is his armor, his air, his sun and his light.  So Christ is with us.  St. Patrick, pray for us!

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


3/10/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Our first reading from the book of Deuteronomy (4:1, 5-9) describes a very significant time in the history of Israel.  Israel had been wandering in the desert for forty years and they were now just about to enter into the Promised Land.  They are encamped on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Even though Moses will not be able to enter the Promised Land with them, he takes time to remind them about the terms of their covenant with God.  Their survival in the Promised Land depends upon their fidelity to God’s Law.  Ultimately Moses is afraid that the many gifts provided by God in their new land will lull the people into complacency.  They may become self-reliant, forgetful of God who has done everything for them (which is what would lead to their destruction and exile later in history).

This special relationship that they have with God also implies that they are to serve as an example to other nations.  When people of other nations see the wisdom and intelligence of Israel, they may be inspired by their example and seek out the truth of God as well.  Moses also reminds the people just how close God is to them — literally in a tent in the center of their camp in the Ark of the Covenant.  They have everything!

We as baptized Christians — and dare I say we as Catholics particularly — have everything as well.  In fact, we have more than Israel!.  God has shown himself to us even more fully than in stone tablets, but in his own Son Jesus Christ, who is present in the Church and who comes to us in the Eucharist.

What happened to Israel several centuries ago can also happen to us.  Not only do we have a lot materially that makes us comfortable, but God has given us himself in amazing ways that we can easily take for granted, and we too can become complacent.  That’s why we have this great season of Lent.  We allow ourselves to be a little less comfortable to wake us up out of our complacency.  And, we should contemplate more the ways that God is close to us and has given us so much.

May our sincerity this Lent in some way be a witness and example to others in our lives that they may perhaps see something different and inspiring — desiring for themselves the joy and peace of our own Christian life.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


3/3/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of feeling deeply troubled or upset at another person in our life due to something they did or said.  And perhaps later we came to realize that they spoke or acted carelessly (perhaps out of character) and that our judgment of their speech or actions was too harsh and too quick.  Especially when we ourselves have been offended, we can be quick to judge or pronounce condemnation on another person.

It’s a theme that runs throughout our readings today (Jeremiah 18:18-20; Matthew 20:17-28).  In our first reading from Jeremiah, Jeremiah was a prophet whom God had called to call his own people to conversion, and they were largely resistant to his message.  Feeling stung by Jeremiah’s harsh words of criticism, the people were eager to condemn Jeremiah and trap him in his own words.

Then in the Gospel, the disciples of Jesus feel strong disdain and resentment toward James and John and their mother for their apparent gaffe in asking Jesus for a prominent place in the Kingdom — after obviously missing the point of what Jesus was talking about — that his Kingdom would entail suffering and death.

This time of Lent is a great time to examine our own tendency to quickly resent or hold anger toward those in our life who have said or done what seems to us to be stupid things.  Perhaps we’ve been too harsh in our judgment.  Perhaps we’ve neglected to see how we too can be just as foolish in our words, actions, our thoughts at times.  Perhaps they were right and we were wrong, and we have a hard time seeing it.  Maybe the Lord is trying to show us something in the whole situation.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


2/24/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners,

It’s been brought to my attention that Congress will be voting on the Equality Act sometime this week.  As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) rightfully states, this piece of legislation is a great threat to religious freedom and people of faith in our country.  The USCCB has made it very easy to automatically reach out to our elected representatives with a form letter (if you choose to use it).  I’ve attached the link below.

https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/80967/Respond

I’m also attaching another link below to an article by Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington DC, further detailing concerns over the legislation.

https://www.ncregister.com/blog/equality-act-alert

Have a blessed day!

Fr. Burish


2/17/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In our first reading today from the book of the prophet Joel (2:12-18), the people were suffering from a great plague of locusts which were destroying their crops.  The prophet saw the plague not only a punishment for sin, but also as a warning that God would come one day in judgment.  He therefore called the people to repentance — all the people without exceptions, the old, the young, the newly married, and even the priests.

Centuries later, St. Paul, in writing to his converts at Corinth (2 Corinthians 5:20-62), proclaimed the same message of a need for repentance.  In his message there was a sense of urgency: “Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!”

On this Ash Wednesday the Church once again calls us to repentance by the ritual of the distribution of ashes.  This call is meant for us without exceptions, for the ashes remind us, first, of our human weakness.  No matter who we may be, no matter how much we might think we are good persons (which we are, because God made us good — but he calls us not just to be good, but to be saints), because of our weakness we have been guilty of sin and need repentance.  The ashes also remind us of the coming judgment of God, for the ashes are a symbol of the inevitability of death when we must face God to give an accounting of our lives.  Finally, there is a sense of urgency about this call to repentance because the have no idea of when death will claim us.

Repentance means a turning away from sin and turning toward God, a real change of heart necessary for all of us.  Daily Mass during Lent is an excellent way to work at striving to achieve true repentance.  In the readings, you will hear what God’s will is for you, and what you are to do to practice repentance.  In the Mass you look to God to receive the grace you need to carry out his will.  This Lent is the acceptable time, the time of salvation.  We do not know whether we will have another.

Have a blessed Lent!

Fr. Jesse Burish


2/3/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In Nazareth, his hometown, Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue (today’s Gospel, Mark 6:1-6), something which any Jewish man could do if invited by the leaders.  This passage stands in stark contrast to the previous chapters in Mark’s Gospel which portray Jesus as preaching and healing in other areas, but here in Nazareth he is greeted with suspicion and rejection — ironically by his own people.

The people in the passage ask a series of questions about the source of Jesus’ knowledge and wisdom, and the final question takes on a belittling tone: “Isn’t he a carpenter?”  The Greek word that’s used here is “tekton,” which can also mean a stoneworker or builder.  Interestingly, by the second century, an ancient Roman anti-Christian writer by the name of Celsus ridiculed Christianity for having a common laborer as its founder.  

The people of Nazareth find Jesus’ family just too ordinary.  The problem is that Jesus’ lake of extraordinary background or family prevents his message from being heard with openness.  Jesus is just too “familiar.”

In our own relationship with God, we can struggle much with he same mistake.  Our faith and who God and/or Christ is in relation to us becomes overly familiar.  We think we’ve been there and done that — or that we’ve heard it or tried it already.  So our relationship with the Lord does not change or grow because we’re not open to the greater possibilities.

Our life of faith should never be boring.  Boredom is usually the result of some spiritual resistance on our part.  One of the ways we are called to new and deeper levels of relationship with the Lord is through the hardships in life we face, which the author of our first reading (Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15) refers to as the “discipline” of God — that which God allows to happen to us for our spiritual good.

God so often reveals himself to us and brings us to deeper love him him in ways we do not expect, or that we might not be open to at first.  May we look for those ways and ask the Lord for the grace of being able to see them and respond.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


1/27/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

We tend to appreciate things more when we have worked hard to obtain them.  Similarly, whatever is simply handed to us tends to mean less.  When children never work to earn good things in their lives, how can they know what is valuable?  This is also true in our spiritual lives.

Catholics who are born into the Faith and baptized as infants can easily take the teachings and traditions of our faith for granted.  How much more we value the things that we worked hard to obtain — an advanced degree, or the home we save for years to build.  The hard work makes the goal obtained priceless for us.

Perhaps this is why Jesus taught in parables, as he did in today’s Gospel (Mark 4:1-20).  We must work at discovering their meaning, because they are hidden.  Often, uncovering the hidden message makes us remember and treasure the teaching.  We see more clearly how it speaks to us.  When we do this, the teaching seems to have greater value.  Jesus used this knowledge to entice people into embracing the message he preached.  Rather than speaking plainly or just giving a basic definition, he dressed the teaching up in the cloak of a parable, enticing those listening to him to see things that were unseen and perhaps have a conversion of heart.  May we read and listen to his sometimes perplexing parables with an open mind and heart, desiring to see what is unseen.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


1/20/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

The Second Vatican Council strongly emphasized the sacrament of Baptism.  In this beautiful ritual a person receives the grace to live out his or her human dignity.  They are anointed in Christ’s three-fold office of priest, prophet, and king, where every action and thought can be given to God as a priestly sacrifice.  Our prophetic speech can speak out the truth where it needs to be heard.  And by the virtue of our royal life, we can lead people in service to follow us in the path toward the kingdom of God.

We see this triple office particularly in our first reading today (Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17).  Melchizedek, the righteous king, prefigures Jesus, the great high priest.  Both focused on God — Melchizedek with his royal offering and Christ with the ultimate sacrifice of self.  Both persons invite us to examine our baptismal dignity.

How are you living out the Gospel?  Are you pleased with how your life is a living, priestly sacrifice — surrendered to God in trust?  Are you striving to live the prophetic goodness of the Gospel, causing others to ask, “Why is he or she like that?  Are you pointing, and thus leading, others to the Father’s kingdom?  This is what our baptismal dignity invites us to examine.  Our answer to some of this may understandably be “no.”  If so, may we start now.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


1/13/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’d like to draw your attention to our first reading today from the letter to the Hebrews (2:14-18).   The theme is that of the high priesthood of Jesus.  Because I’m 6’ 3.5” tall, some have affectionately called me the “high priest”…. that’s not exactly what we mean though by the title.  The “high priest” was the central religious figure for the Jews.  He was the only one that would go into the most sacred place in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was and burn incense and offer sacrifice.  He was the key prayer mediator for the people.

The Letter to the Hebrews is trying to assert how Jesus fulfills this role perfectly.  And Jesus does this by taking on our human flesh and even dying to destroy the power of death.  Even though we are now out of the Christmas season, it is still good for us to contemplate the marvelous fact that our God became one of us.

I’d like to point out one key line in which the letter says of Jesus, “Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.”  God comes to the help of us humans — a form of his creation lower than the angels, and demonstrates his love for us in this way.  Remember that Satan and his demons are fallen angels.  And it’s said that Satan wreaks havoc on the world out of jealousy that God would care so much for humanity that he would send his son to take on human form.

Jesus is our perfect priest who offers perfect sacrifice for us.  He is the merciful and faithful priest who knows our struggles, and because he has taken on our humanity, he is close and able to help us in those times of our life when we are tested.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


1/6/2021 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  He went onto cite this “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance” as the strongest threat to a nation facing financial disaster and unrest throughout the world.  We tend to fear whatever we cannot control: terrorism, disasters (natural or man-made), paralysis of governmental structures, financial instability, and the loss of the status quo.  Ironically, the disciples in today’s Gospel (Mark 6:45-52) (upon close examination) are most afraid of Jesus who is most able to save them.  They fear his image on the water more than they fear the storm itself.  They were terrified by the unknown of Jesus walking towards them on the water.

Jesus had commanded his disciples: “Do not be afraid.”  Our first reading from the 1st Letter of St. John (1 John 4:11-18) says that, “perfect love casts out all fear.”  God loves us perfectly and God will bring about the best for us, in spite of the bad that may occur, if we love/trust him and let him.  When we show that same kind of love for those around us, even those we dislike, fear is broken down.  Of course, love always involves a risk.  It always involves stepping out into the unknown where fear is most apt to take over.  But love in those circumstances is most pure and efficacious.  Perhaps it could be said that in our lives where there is the most fear, there is also the greatest opportunity for love.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


12/30/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’ve always been intrigued by Anna, the woman portrayed in our Gospel today (Luke 2:36-40).  The child Jesus continues to stir wonderment in the people around him, especially as Mary and Joseph bring him to be presented at the Temple.  We first would hear of Simeon, featured in yesterday’s Gospel, and now we hear of Anna.  Both of them were holy and devout elderly people who were committed to prayer and were waiting for God to act in bringing about the redemption of Israel.  Really, I think the two of them represent everything the season of Advent is all about.

Anna, it says, was a devout prophetess who was a daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher.  Anna is the only woman in the New Testament to be called a prophetess.  Her great age of 84 indicates a respectful status in her social world, and is also a sign of her righteousness.  She exemplifies the biblical acetic ideal of marrying once and devoting herself to God alone in her widowhood.  In seeing the child Jesus, she perceives him as the answer to her prayers, her hopes, and those of other for the saving of Jerusalem from their oppressors.  She responds by praising God and telling others of the good news.

Regardless of our own states in life/vocations, which are all different, I think there is something of Anna we can all learn and draw from, and strive to model in our own lives, especially as we age.  As we move through this Christmas season, may our faith, hope, and devotion increase, in spite of difficulties.  May we strive to praise God and tell others of the good things he has done.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


12/23/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

On the last several days before Christmas, starting December 17th, the antiphon before the Gospel at Mass is an “O” antiphon, meaning it begins with an “O” addressing a title for the Messiah, drawn from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament.  It’s from these O Antiphon titles for Christ that we get the popular Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” — “Emmanuel” being one of the titles.  Today’s O Antiphon is “O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust.”  Jesus the Messiah is not just the God and savior of some people in the world, as if people in other places could be saved through other religions and belief systems.  No, Jesus is the true king and Lord of all nations, whether all men know him as such or not.

Malachi, the prophet speaking in our first reading for daily Mass, is one of the last books (historically) to be written in the Old Testament.  It precedes immediately the Gospels in the New Testament.  Malachi speaks of God sending someone ahead of him — someone like Elijah, whom the Jews believed would return because he was the great Old Testament prophet of Israel who never died, but was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind.  And so our Gospel today speaks of John the Baptist, who would seem to be like Elijah, although he is not the final person God is sending.  Malachi goes onto say how the Lord will return to his Temple, and he will purify the sons of Levi like refined silver, that they might offer a pleasing sacrifice to God. The sons of Levi refer to the Levitical priests of the Temple who had become corrupt.  God, through the Passion and death of his Son would bring about a new priesthood that offers a sacrifice pleasing to God, the sacrifice of his own Son on the cross — the Eucharist.

Malachi spoke of a generation of priests who lacked faith.  Zechariah, a priest and the father of John the Baptist in the Gospel lacked faith as well.  He didn’t believe what the angel had told him and so was not able to speak until he consented to naming his son John.  Our lack of faith in Jesus, the king of all nations, confuses our minds and prevents us from speaking about him.  When we believe that he is truly king of nations and Lord of our lives, then everything that humans canon reveal to us, God the Father reveals to us.  Faith brings us a certain wisdom and charity.  Our faith is not proven by celebrating Christmas and giving gifts — for even non-believers do that.  Faith comes when we look into the eyes of Christ and see the king of nations who will save us — and then we begin to act like believers.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


12/16/2020 Message from Father Burish

God and the Pandemic Part VI

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’d like to conclude this week sharing with you some reflections from N.T. Wright’s book, God and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection one the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath.

N.T. Wright cleverly points out that the Church began (following Jesus’ Resurrection as described in John, chapter 20) with three elements that we have observed throughout this pandemic: tears, locked doors, and doubt.  Regarding tears, think of Mary Magdalene weeping outside of the empty tomb.  Think of those who have died in this pandemic.  Regarding locked doors, think of the disciples in the upper room.  Think of friends and families keeping their distance from each other, or worse yet, what happened to so many churches.  Regarding doubt, think of St. Thomas not believing Christ had risen from the dead.  Think of all the questioning of the pandemic response.  How does faith, hope and love fit into all this?

As members of Christ’s Body, the Church, we should be able to respond well in the present moment, as our ancestors in the Faith always have.  In centuries past, in times of plague, it was the Church that responded with compassion to those suffering, striving to save lives, even if it meant losing some of her own in the process.  Our faith in life beyond the grave should enable us to be cheerful in the face of death.  We should continue all corporal and spiritual works of mercy — taking all reasonable precautions, of course.

Wright finally acknowledges how there are many disagreements among Christians in how to respond to the pandemic, especially with regard to all the safety regulations for our churches, often creating two opposing sides.  To this he says, “both sides here may learn from the present crisis, and we do well to hold one another in charitable prayer.”

As I mentioned before, N.T. Wright is not a Catholic theologian.  Some of his perspectives (which I have omitted in this little series) clearly show that fact.  Still, I think his overall message and admonition to us can be very fruitful:  Lament the current state of things, recognizing that God’s “control” in the world is best demonstrated in Christ weeping and in his Passion and death.  From there, we look forward to his definitive renewal of all creation.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


12/9/2020 Message from Father Burish

God and the Pandemic Part V

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’d like to continue this week sharing with you some reflections from N.T. Wright’s book, God and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection one the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath.

One of the central messages of N.T. Wright’s book is that the appropriate response to tragic and difficult situations in our world (like a pandemic, and the loss of human life that comes from it) is to lament.  “… We should embrace lament as the vital initial Christian response to this pandemic… lamenting that things are not as they should be… admitting we don’t have easy answers… to take our place humbly among the mourners…  Grief, after all, is part of love.”

As a follower of the Lord and member of the Church, we are called to be like Christ who wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus — mourning the fact that things are not as they should be and looking forward to the day they will be.  We are called to pray.  We are called “to wait patiently for the Lord, …[expecting] neither easy answers nor easy words to say to the world…”

It will always be tempting for us to comfort ourselves by suggesting that because God is all-powerful and in control, he has willed whatever happens, and therefore we should be able to figure out why he has willed it so.  This isn’t, however, the way God has set up his kingdom.  “We are not given nice, comprehensible, mechanistic analyses.  Evil is an intruder into God’s creation.  Any attempt to analyze either what it is, why it’s allowed or what God does with it — apart from the clear, strong statement that God overcomes it through Jesus’ death for sinners — is not only trying to put the wind into a bottle; it is supposing that we can imagine an orderly universe in which ‘evil’ has an appropriate, allowable place.”

We must not forget that God, in many ways, has given much of the operating of things in the world to his fallen creation.

More next week.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


12/2/2020 Message from Father Burish

God and the Pandemic Part IV

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I continue this week sharing with you some reflections from N.T. Wright’s book, God and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection one the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath.

A phrase we hear often throughout the Gospels is the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven.” What is this kingdom, exactly, that Jesus is intending to bring about? Essentially, the Kingdom is all about Jesus restoring all of creation to the way it was intended to be (before the Fall). God intends to do this through us, who were made in his image and have been redeemed — those who have been given his Spirit, and those who bear within their bodies the death of the Lord.

So often when disasters in the world happen, people ask, “Why did God permit it, and why doesn’t he send his help?” The answer is that he does send his help. We are to be the help he sends. We are to be the presence of Christ in the world, to be with those in need and to weep with those who weep. As N.T Wright says, “There will be problems, punishments, setbacks, shipwrecks, but God’s purpose will come through.” We are not necessarily called to answer the question, “why?,” but to answer the question of what are to do here next to be Christ’s presence. Wright goes on, “I suggest, then, that from the time of Jesus onwards we see Jesus’ followers telling people about God’s kingdom, and summoning them to repent, not because of any subsequent events events such as famines or plagues but because of Jesus himself.”

I’d recommend having a look at St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8. There, St. Paul speaks about God’s abiding love for us in times of trial and suffering, and that our “inheritance” will be the whole renewal of creation that he will bring about in and through us. When the world is enduring struggle, we are called to be people of prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to pray in and through us when we are without words, to be Christ’s presence in the midst of pain, to be like Christ who wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. In such contexts, we are not called to find answers. “The danger with speaking confident words into a world out of joint is that we fit the words to the distortion and so speak distorted words — all to protect a vision of a divinity who cannot be other than ‘in control’ all the time.” We are to remember that “God works all things towards ultimate good with and through those ho love him.”

More next time.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


11/25/2020 Message from Father Burish

Message to Parishioners on God and the Pandemic Part III

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I continue this week sharing with you some reflections from N.T. Wright’s book, God and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection one the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath.

While Jesus is certainly reminiscent of Old Testament prophets in that he calls people to repent, warning of future punishment if one does not, there is something different about him.  He doesn’t look back to sins that would cause judgment in the same way, but rather he tends to look forward to what God is going to do about it.  Consider Jesus’ miracles of healing.  He looks forward to the Kingdom — his Father’s complete reign in the world.  When he speaks of wars and insurrections and earthquakes, he says, “Don’t be disturbed; the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6).

N.T. Wright states, “The New Testament insists that we put Jesus at the centre of the picture and work outwards from there.  The minute we find ourselves looking at the world around us and jumping to conclusions about God and what he might be doing, but without looking carefully at Jesus, we are in serious danger of forcing through an ‘interpretation’ which might look attractive — it might seem quite ‘spiritual’ and awe-inspiring — but which actually screens Jesus out of the picture.  As the old saying has it, if he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.”

I’d like to add here that putting Christ in the center means repenting and making him sovereign in our lives.  Consider the Beatitudes.  Consider his parables.  Avail yourselves to him in the Church’s sacraments.  “Trying to jump from an earthquake, a tsunami, a pandemic or anything else to a conclusion about ‘what God is saying here’ without going through the Gospel story is to make the basic theological mistake of trying to deduce something about God while going behind Jesus’ back.”  Our call to repentance comes through Christ himself, and therefore through his Church as well.

May we not forget that Christ is already reigning.  “If you want to know what it means to talk about God being ‘in charge of’ the world, or being ‘in control’, or being ‘sovereign’, then Jesus himself instructs you to rethink the notion of ‘kingdom’, ‘control’ and ‘sovereignty’ themselves, around his death on the cross.”  Jesus shows his unique sovereignty among us when he arrives at the tomb of Lazarus his friend and he weeps.  He doesn’t tell Martha and Mary that his death happened because of their sin.  He just weeps… and then he tells Lazarus to come out of the tomb.  Consider this when you pray about your situation in this pandemic.  Perhaps Christ is right here in our midst, reigning, after all.  Aren’t we to share in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection?  More next time.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


11/18/2020 Message from Father Burish

Message to Parishioners about God and the Pandemic Part II

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Last week, I introduced to you a little book calledGod and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath, by N.T. Wright.  Not that you haven’t undoubtedly been asking it yourself in prayer already, but I left us with the question of, “Lord, what are you doing or saying in this pandemic?,” asking us to set our presumptions and predispositions aside.  I’d now like to highlight a few more points from the book.

As one reads the Old Testament, one often gets the impression that unfortunate circumstances in our lives or in the world are linked in a causal chain to bad behavior, and that good behavior is likewise rewarded.  This is the working of things in the central Old Testament story of the Babylonian Exile, when Judah was conquered and exiled after infidelity to their covenant with God.  This theme is brought out in Deuteronomy, in the prophets of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and in the Psalms.  The book of Job, however, is a bit different.  Job suffers great misfortune in spite of his upright life.  He is rewarded and blessed by God anew in the end, but we are still left with the fact of his loss and suffering at the beginning.  God remains all-powerful and his ways remain mysterious.  The story of the Old Testament sets the stage for God to send his Son and set things aright by taking up sin and death, and conquering it through his Resurrection.  However, there still remains a dark power at work, beyond our full comprehension, that tries to thwart the good and the plans of God.

As N.T. Wright says, “We are simply to know that when we are caught up in awful circumstances, apparent gross injustices, terrible plagues — or when accused of wicked things of which we are innocent, suffering strange sicknesses with no apparent reason, let alone cure — at those points we are to lament, we are to complain, we are to state the case, and leave it with God…  That brings us, then, to the story of Jesus himself.”  More next week.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


11/11/2020 Message from Father Burish

Message to Parishioners about God and the Pandemic Part I

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Several weeks ago, an area pastor gave me the book God and the Pandemic, A Christian Reflection on the Coronavirus and Its Aftermath, by N.T. Wright.  N.T. Wright is not writing from a specifically Catholic perspective.  He is an Anglican and a well-known Scripture scholar, well-respected for his scholarship in Catholic circles.  His book is short and serves as a worth-while spiritual/theological reflection on the current pandemic.  As the severity of the pandemic has increased more locally in recent weeks, I thought I would relay a few reflections from the book in this and succeeding messages.

The big question in all of this for many people is: What is God doing in this pandemic?  What does this all mean?  The Christian response (not limited to Catholic circles) has been diverse.  There have been many presumptions about what God is trying to do and say.  Some have been presuming that this, coupled with all the political strife and other social issues, is a sign of the end-of-times — a very popular theme in American Christian culture.  Others have perceived the pandemic as an opportunity and call to greater conversion.  Now being faced with the reality or possibility of death, people are more inclined to ask deeper questions and seek spiritual realities.  Finally, others have seen the pandemic in the Old Testament sense of divine punishment of the behaviors and lifestyles of which they disapprove or find immoral.

Without proposing either of these as the “right” response, Wright examines the Scriptures to shed further light on the topic.  I’ll offer some highlights from that next time.  In the meantime, I think it is a good question for each of us to continue asking in prayer, setting our own presumptions and predispositions aside, “Lord, what are you doing or saying in this?”

In prayer,

Fr. Jesse Burish


11/4/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

The first reading for the Mass today comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:12-18).  As it sounds, the Christian community in Philippi had remained faithful in Paul’s absence, and so Paul offers them words of encouragement.  The line that stands out to me is: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”  While we are here on this earth, we are to work out our salvation.  Heaven, as much as the world prefers to believe, is not simply a given or an automatic.  Heaven and eternal life is something we attain through faith and  and corresponding works, our life of prayer and relationship with the Lord, our receiving of God’s grace and mercy in the sacraments.  Attaining heaven and salvation is not done by our efforts alone.  It is done ultimately through cooperation with God.  God gives us his assistance (i.e., his spiritual help, grace) which we must be open to receiving.  That is what I think St. Paul means when he says, “For God is the one works in you both to desire and to work.”

In order to work out our salvation, we need to have the desire for God and for heaven.  That’s what today’s responsorial psalm is talking about when it says, “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”  However, when we honestly look at our lives, I think we can sometimes feel or say that we don’t always fully desire God and his salvation.  Of course, we want these things, but often our hearts are divided and distracted or attached to things in this world — perhaps more than we realize.  That’s essentially the concern that Jesus addresses in today’s Gospel (Luke 14:25-33).  He speaks of “hating” father and mother, and brother and sister, and one’s on life in order to follow him.  Since it is God and his grace that helps us onto salvation and gives us the desire — let’s boldly ask every day: “Lord, increase my desire and love for you, and my longing for you.”  When we are given the desire, then we change and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for all our days.

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


10/28/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today is the feast of Saints Simon and Jude.  Simon and Jude were apostles — among the twelve men Jesus chose to lead his Church.  Often the apostles went by different names.  Jude is referred to as such in St. Luke’s Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles.  However, in Matthew and Mark’s Gospel, he is referred to as Thaddeus.  It’s said that St. Jude preached the Gospel in Egypt.

Simon, in the Gospels, is occasionally referred to as “the Zealot.”  The Zealots were a Jewish sect that represented an extreme form of Jewish nationalism.  They believed that God’s promise for a Messiah in the Old Testament would lead to Israel being a free and independent nation.  In a sense, the Zealots were the Jewish “terrorists” of Jesus time because they responded violently to Roman occupation and to the Jews that collaborated with them.

When we look at the backgrounds of each of the apostles, we can see how Jesus called a real motley crew of different persons that we would think would not likely get along.  What was Jesus thinking?  I love the Gospel passage for today’s feast.  St. Luke says that, “Jesus went up the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.”  Then, “… when day came, he called the disciples to himself” and selected specially the twelve.

Throughout the Gospels we hear of Jesus speaking to his Father before doing something significant.  We have to wonder what he must’ve spoken about.  If I had to guess, I would say that he was speaking about the Father’s plan and the great potential for conversion and love in the hearts of these very divergent and imperfect men.

While none of us are apostles or successors of the apostles in the strict sense, we are all baptized sons and daughters of the Father, members of the Body of Christ.  We have all been “chosen” by God in a sense.  Jesus intercedes for us to the Father.  Therefore, we know that Christ communicates with the Father in heaven about each of us — how even with all our faults and failings, which he sees, how he also sees our goodness, our potential for deeper conversion and love, and our distinct place and role in his Kingdom.

As we pray/converse with Jesus today, may we ask him to reveal to us what he sees in us and what is our distinct calling that comes from the heart of the Father.

God bless you!

Father Jesse Burish


10/14/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

The challenges of this pandemic continue with no clear end in sight.  While the public celebration of Mass has been back since the end of May, the obligation to return to Sunday Mass has not been reinstated, given the number of cases in our diocese.  I would say that on average, Notre Dame’s Mass attendance has gradually increased.  In many ways this is good, as more people have returned to regular reception of the sacraments and communal worship. 

However, I realize there are many of us who are at higher risk due to advanced age or underlying conditions that do not feel it prudent to return to Mass still at this time, particularly given the recent higher attendance.  That said, I want it to be clear that having to be away from Notre Dame on the weekends should not translate to a total fast from the sacraments.  The sacraments are for us a source of sanctifying grace and a real encounter with Christ.  

Know that I still offer confessions after all daily Masses.  Other times can be scheduled by appointment as necessary.  And most importantly, you are free to contact the parish office about coming to receive the Eucharist — the source and summit of Christian life — during the week outside of Mass if necessary.  Letting us know ahead of time insures that someone will be available for you.  Finally, as I have mentioned before, if you are homebound or know someone from the parish who is, we can put them on our list of First Friday visits done by myself and a few other volunteers.

I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to a number of other volunteers who have been taking the time to reach out to some of our more senior parishioners who have not been able to come to Mass with a friendly phone call on behalf of the parish.

May God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


10/7/2020 Message from Father Burish

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.  This special feast was instituted to commemorate the anniversary of the famous Battle of Lepanto, whose victory is attributed to the praying of the Rosary.  It’s a great story for our faith and particularly applicable to today.  By 1571, the Islamic world, more specifically the Ottoman Empire, had reached the peak of its naval power in the Mediterranean and was threatening to overrun Christian Europe.  Fearing the destruction of Christian faith and life, Pope Pius V formed a league against them.  He also asked that all Christians throughout Europe pray the Rosary for the success of the Christian arms.  He ordered that all churches have the Forty Hours Devotion with public processions and recitation of the Rosary.  On October 7, the day of the battle, he spent the whole night in prayer.  Before moving the attack at Lepanto, a city off the coast of Greece, the Christian sailors prayed the Rosary while the Pope’s official representative gave them the apostolic blessing. From the very beginning, the victory over the Ottoman Empire in this battle was attributed to the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary.

The month of October is a great time to rekindle our devotion to praying the Rosary, especially if this has not normally been part of our practice.  Ours may not be so much a military battle today against the Ottoman Empire, but it is a battle no less threatening in our secular culture to preserve our Catholic faith and a culture that supports it.  As you pray the Rosary, ask the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, for peace in our world, for the protection and defense of life in our country, for wisdom in voting in our upcoming elections, and for an end to this pandemic.

May God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


9/30/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today is the Memorial of St. Jerome.  Jerome is a saint with whom we can identify.  He lived during the fourth century, and many works of art depict him as either a cardinal of the Church or an ascetic hermit.  Really, he was neither.  The position of cardinal didn’t exist at that time, but Jerome did work closely with Pope Damasus — hence, the association.  And although Jerome spent a lot of time in the desert, it was usually with a community of spiritual directees that gathered around him for his guidance.

There are two main aspects of St. Jerome for which he is widely known: his volatile personality and biting sarcasm in speaking with people who irritated him, and his great love of Sacred Scripture.  After Pope Damasus died, and Jerome had alienated himself from many of the Roman clergy whom he criticized for their worldliness and superficiality, Jerome moved to Bethlehem where he continued the work of translating the Bible into Latin — called the Vulgate.  

If people like Jerome, with “colorful” or prickly personalities can become saints, so can we.  St. Jerome, pray for us!

If you’d like to learn more about St. Jerome, visit: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=10

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


9/23/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today is the memorial of St. Pius of Pietrelcina, also known as Padre Pio.  I dedicated last Sunday’s bulletin column to speaking about him.  He was born in Southern Italy in the late 1800s and became a Capuchin friar.  He eventually received the stigmata — the wounds of Christ’s Passion on his own body.  We are all called to carry our crosses in life — i.e., our struggles and sufferings in a way that we can be with Jesus in his Passion.  But some individuals are given this special grace of actually sharing in Jesus’ Passion in a very physical way.

In a world today in which we have so many things to distract us and steal our attention from the things of God, his centrality in our life, and the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of his Son Jesus — we lose very easily a sense of what the crucifix means for us.  In a way, I think we’re given things like the stigmata in the lives of the saints like Padre Pio, and other such miraculous occurrences to point us back to the cross of Jesus.  We are reminded that the Lord’s Passion continues today because of our failures and sins — because of anger, division, resentment, and violence among us.  We are reminded that we are sinners and we still need Jesus in our life and his cross to save us.  Our struggles and sufferings in life have meaning in his Passion and Cross.  Let’s ask Padre Pio to pray for us that we always keep before us the cross of Jesus, and that we always seek to know Christ’s peace in the sacrament of Confession.

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


9/16/2020 Message from Father Burish

Today’s first reading (1 Cor 12:31-13:13) from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians is a favorite at weddings ( — “…Love is patient, love is kind…”).  It’s all about the beautiful emotions and warm feelings of married love.  But if we stop and think about it, love is a very challenging word.  Paul is talking about a love that transforms us as individuals into one body.  We become one Body of Christ sent out to change the world.  In the verses before this passage, Pauls tells us that love is the greatest of all the spiritual gifts.

Our English word “love” is better understood in the original Greek of this passage as “self-giving” — the meaning that St. Paul emphasizes.  In light of this, the readying really begins to have some substance.  When we hear “God is love,” we understand that Jesus showed us the way to the Father through self-giving — giving himself away on the cross.  We too then as members of Christ’s Body the Church are to make a self-gift of our lives in our families, the community, and in the Church in our parish and beyond.  Considering our parish’s mission of inviting all people to encounter Christ and inspiring them to become saints, how are you being called today to make a gift of self?

In prayer,

Fr. Jesse Burish


9/9/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today’s first reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:25-31) is a challenging — and somewhat amusing — one.  St. Paul says, “In regard to virgins… it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is.  Are you bound to a wife?  Do not seek a separation.  Are you free of a wife?  Then do not look for a wife.  If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that.”  Paul is giving some spiritual advice that it is better to remain unmarried.  However, this is balanced by what he states earlier in his letter that, “Because of cases of immorality, every woman should have her own husband, and every man his own wife” — saying that, in large part, the institution of marriage serves to prevent immorality in society.

Seen in the full context of the letter, St. Paul is not so much speaking against marriage, but is intending to speak of the spiritual goods of virginity (and/or celibacy).  And this is clear in the last lines of the passage where he says, “time is running out… we should live in the world as if we are not of the world… the world is passing away.”  The reason the Church as always recognized a spiritual good in virginity or celibacy (not marrying for spiritual reasons) is because it can serve as a reminder to the rest of the world that we ultimately are looking forward to our “marriage” to God in heaven in eternity.

It’s not that celibacy and virginity are just a greater sacrifice or that those with such vocations are automatically holier than those who are married.  People often criticize the Church’s position on celibacy and virginity because of the shortage of priests and religious, or because of scandals connected to them.  But the mind of the Church (along with St. Paul) is that both vocations are good and necessary, and both have a place in spiritually serving the Church and directing us to heaven.

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


9/2/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In today’s first reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:1-9), Paul speaks to the Christian community in Corinth about some divisions and rivalries that had developed among them due to allegiances to particular church leaders with whom they were putting too much stock — making them out to be gods, in a sense.  “Whenever someone says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ and another, ‘I belong to Apollos,’ are you not merely men?  What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul?  Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one.”  Paul goes onto argue that while both have important roles, it is ultimately God that brings fruit to their work.

I’m sure you all know or remember the pro football player Tim Tebow — famous for his “Tebowing” — kneeling down on one knee, publicly showing a sign of prayer and thanksgiving to God for his successes in football.  Sometimes its easy for us to forget how integrally God is involved in our lives.  We often live as if we believe we have more control over things and people than we really do.

As a priest, I can certainly lose much sleep over matters in the parish that seem too big to handle or people that are difficult to deal with (not that we have any of those around here ;-)).  But that’s often when I forget to let God be God.  Parents of adolescent or adult children can feel the same way about their children making poor choices in life.  Those of us involved in different apostolates or works of service can easily lose sight of just allowing God to do God’s work.

May we show praise and thanksgiving to God, remembering that He is God, and we’re not — and that He is the one who truly brings fruit from our labors, in the way and time he wants.

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


8/26/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

In our Gospel today (Matthew 23:27-32), Jesus criticizes the scribes and Pharisees for being like white-washed tombs — beautiful on the outside, but dead and filthy on the inside.  At the time of Jesus, the Jewish religious authorities had turned Judaism into a religion of mere externals — one of performing rituals and customs perfectly, and following laws perfectly, but not a religion that showed charity or conversion of heart to the Lord.

Living in the world and culture as we do today, we can find ourselves easily caught up in it and influenced by it.  We can be like white-washed tombs, beautiful on the outside because of our material possessions and worldly distractions, but empty and dead on the inside — not being centered on Christ and lacking in love and virtue.

St. Catherine of Siena suggests that way we avoid becoming caught up in the world in such a way is to embrace the cross of Jesus in the way it uniquely manifests itself in our life — the struggles and difficulties, beyond our control, that we face.  For in that, we become united to Christ.  We grow in virtue and become schooled in the way of love.  Most importantly, when you take up your cross, “all your past sins against God will be taken away.”

In Christ,

Fr. Jesse Burish


8/19/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 20:1-16 is the story of the landowner who hired laborers to go into his vineyard.  At the end of the day, he paid all of his workers the same daily wage, even those who were hired late and only worked an hour.  God’s ways often seem unfair to us.  Some receive rewards and blessings that we don’t feel they deserve.  Others suffer in ways we don’t feel they deserve.  We have to remember that we often only are able to see things superficially, and not as they fully are.  God, on the other hand sees all things at once and looks into the heart.  The things we do and endure in this world can have an eternal value that transcends this world.  Justice doesn’t just stop here.  Heaven or salvation will be given out to us by God’s eternal justice through the gift of faith, rather than by just what we do or visibly accomplish.  That’s why Mother Teresa was quoted as saying that God calls us to be faithful, not merely successful.  What we do must be primarily an expression of our faith.  St. Teresa of the Child Jesus got this when she set to doing ordinary and little things out of pure love for God.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


8/12/2020 Message from Father Burish

This coming Saturday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This year, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation because it falls so close to the weekend (… of course, due to the pandemic, the obligation to attend Mass is still suspended anyway).  However, because the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of her Assumption into heaven is the patronal saint of our parish, we are able to observe the solemnity in church in place of the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  Whether or not you are able to attend Mass in person, I invite you to pray the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking Mary’s intercession on us and our parish.  I intend to lead it at each of the weekend Masses following the homily.  Please find the litany on the link attached below.

In Christ,

Fr. Jesse Burish

https://www.nashvilledominican.org/prayer/litanies/litany-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/


8/5/2020 Message from Father Burish

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28) presents us with that famous (or rather infamous) story of the Canaanite woman who approaches Jesus pleading with him to heal her daughter from being tormented by an unclean spirit.  Jesus first responds to her by saying that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (which did not include her, a gentile).  Then Jesus tells her that it is improper for him to throw the children’s (i.e., the people of Israel’s) food to the dogs (i.e., the gentiles, particularly the woman).  This is the line that makes everyone uncomfortable.

Some have suggested that Jesus in these two lines was putting into words what the apostles were probably thinking at the time.  The woman then gives the surprisingly positive and faith-filled response that she does not presume to take anything away from the children, but is happy just to have “the scraps” from their table.  In a way, Jesus has been playing “hard to get” with this woman, but apparently to put on display — for the apostles — the great faith of someone that the apostles wouldn’t expect.  Have you ever been shocked by the depth of someone else faith?  The Lord loves to reward unflinching faith in big ways.

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


7/29/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Today is the memorial of St. Martha — Martha of Bethany, whom we know from the Gospels.  When I think of St. Martha, I first recall the story of Jesus visiting her and her sister Mary.  Martha busies herself preparing the meal while Mary simply enjoys being in Jesus’ presence.  Martha receives a gentle rebuke from Jesus, suggesting that Mary has chosen “the better part.”  But there’s also another important Gospel scene with Martha — what is often called the “raising of Lazarus” (Martha and Mary’s brother).  When Lazarus was deathly ill, the sisters sent word to Jesus, who delayed in coming and arrived after Lazarus’ death.  Upon his arriival, Martha’s statement to Jesus is a combination of faith and reproach: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  In times of struggle, we can catch ourselves saying to the Lord something similar: “Why weren’t you here when I needed you?”  Such a response is natural.  But what matters most is our ability to move from complaint to a more faith-filled acceptance that Jesus is Lord of our life, and that he knows what is best for us better than we do.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


7/22/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

St. Mary Magdalene, whose feast day we celebrate today, was the first person to see the risen Lord Jesus. She had been in front of the group of women who discovered the empty tomb. She was one of the most prominent of the women who followed Jesus in his ministry and contributed to his support. Her name implies that she was from Magdala, a small village on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. I think the essence of Mary Magdalene’s significance as a saint is that Christ was able to depend upon her devoted support. She accompanied him to Jerusalem when he returned there for the last time. She stood at the foot of the cross. She went to the tomb. The first words the risen Jesus spoke were to her. Mary Magdalene models perseverance, devotion, and service to the Lord.

Having these qualities in our life of faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus will not prevent us from being challenged or tested, but, as with Mary Magdalene, they will lead us to see and recognize the risen Jesus anew in our own life circumstances. With the same virtues, we can say today and every day as she did, “I have seen the Lord.”

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


7/15/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 16th, is the memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. God freely gave Mary the grace of being free from original sin at the moment of her conception so that she would worthily be the mother of His Son — and be our spiritual mother as well. Associated with this memorial is the scapular. Wearing the scapular (or other articles such as the Miraculous Medal) remind us of Mary’s motherly protection through life and at the moment of our death. But it is also a sign that devotion to the Blessed Virgin and a relationship of prayer through her is a constant part of the Christian life so that we, like her, may be fully open to receiving all the gifts that God desires to give us.

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


7/8/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Next time you see Father Williams, I invite you to ask him for his priestly blessing.  Special graces may be gained by receiving the first blessing of a newly ordained priest.  Such first blessings are customarily given after the First Mass or Masses celebrated by the priest, up to a full year after ordination.  It has also been customary that one would kneel down before the priest (such as at a kneeler or Communion rail) to receive the blessing and kiss the palms of his hands, recognizing the sacred character of his priesthood and reverencing the hands that would be conferring the sacraments.  I know there are some or many among us that would have no problem doing this, given the circumstances of the current pandemic.  However, if you felt more comfortable to stand at a six-foot distance and not kiss Father’s palms, I think the blessing would still take :-).

In Christ,

Fr. Jesse Burish


7/1/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

The topic of racism in our country and protests about it continue to make headlines.  When hot button issues such as this make the news, some often feel that the Church doesn’t say anything, or does not say enough in response.  A few weeks ago, I sent a link to a YouTube video done by a couple Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.  I also recently came across this great article: “Can Catholics Support Black Lives Matter?”

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/can-catholics-support-black-lives-matter-92926

This article put out by Catholic News Agency gets the perspective of well-known black American Catholics and addresses the complexities of the movement and organization.

For those of you interested in diving into this topic of the Catholic response to racism a bit more, I’d like to share with you some of the many communications/resources put out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm

God bless you!
Fr. Jesse Burish

P.S. Here is a link to the Dynamic Catholic Prayer Process I mentioned in my homily this past weekend.

https://dynamiccatholic.com/learning/the-prayer-process


6/24/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

It was with great sadness and disappointment that I heard the news about Fr. Charlie Richmond, former chaplain at McDonell and associate at St. Charles Borromeo and St. Peter’s. Fr. Richmond was charged in Chippewa County Court with repeated sexual assault of a minor during his time at McDonell between September 2016 and May 2017. In a relatively small community like our own, this kind of thing affects everyone.

Reiterating a point Fr. Kizewski made in his letter to MACS families, it is so important that we be vigilant in speaking out about sexual abuse when it has occurred, or whenever we suspect something is not quite right — in our community, in the Church, and in our families. We should talk to a trusted authority about it and/or go to the police. It is the responsibility of all of us to create and maintain a safe environment, especially for our young people.

There is very little that I know about this situation concerning Fr. Richmond. Between what I have read in the news and heard in the community, I’ve been unable to make any clear judgment on the matter. Please join me in praying that justice is done for all parties involved, and that healing occurs where it needs to occur. Pray for all victims of sexual abuse, and pray for priests, both of whom endure great spiritual warfare.

May God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


6/17/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Several weeks ago, I joked that under the lockdown, a lot more time was being spent in the Jacuzzi and Netflix binging at the Rectory.  Well, as many of us are now returning to something that more closely resembles previous routines and schedules, I imagine there are many others who are still spending a good amount of time at home… and probably watching Netflix or other streaming services.  These entertainment resources aren’t inherently bad.  In fact there are a lot of great things about them — but they can often have entertainment that doesn’t inspire virtue or help us on our way to heaven.  It’s good to know that there is always other “entertainment” resources out there that can.  This might be one:

A parishioner recently passed onto me a recommendation to check out a relatively new TV series called The Chosen by VidAngel Studios about our Lord Jesus Christ.  I located the first episode on YouTube and I believe it is available on other streaming services.  It can also be watched for free on its own app: www.thechosen.tv/app.  It was produced by an Evangelical, Dallas Jenkins, whose father produced the Left Behind series — although it seems to be very different from that.  Admittedly, I have not viewed much of this yet, but I’m intrigued by it, as it seems to have many positive Catholic reviews.  It does not seem to be based on a rigid fundamentalist reading of the Scriptures, but it does seem to be faithful to the Scriptures while proposing additional elements not explicit in the Scriptures that serve as a sort of “Ignatian meditiation” (“Ignatian,” referring to St. Ignatius of Loyola, who provides the prayer Tradition of the Church with a wonderful model for using our imagination when meditating on the Scriptures).  Feel free to check it out.  If it is good, it will serve to edify and point us to higher things.  Shouldn’t all our entertainment and recreation do that?

God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


6/10/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Last week I spoke on keeping a Catholic and biblical worldview in light of the protests and violence stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While I have seen in media circles debates about whether or not this particular incident was really one of racism (as opposed to just police brutality… of course, it could’ve been both), it has certainly brought to the forefront the issue of racism in our country. Living and/or growing up in our diocese in west-central Wisconsin — which is still largely racially homogeneous — I think it is difficult to weigh these issues. I just came across this YouTube video from Ascension Presents done by two Franciscan Friars of the Renewal which I think offers a good Catholic perspective:

What Can Catholics Do to Overcome Racism?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6uyz2vBSgg

God bless you,

Fr. Jesse Burish


6/3/2020 Message from Father Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I’ve been struck by how much the news over the last few days about the protesting and rioting in Minneapolis and other cities has affected people with whom I’ve spoken recently. A lot of us tend to get very frustrated and despairing about our world today. These are serious issues and they are disheartening.

However, I’d like to offer a word of caution. If and when we find ourselves becoming so frustrated and disheartened by the state of things in our world, it might be good for us to step back and consider who or what we are letting shape our worldview. I think often without even realizing it, we let the media and popular culture do this. But shouldn’t our Catholic faith and the Scriptures do that first and foremost? Christ is risen from the dead and offers the promise of life eternal — a new heaven and a new earth. He has also given us the gift of the Holy Spirt to discern the truth and his presence amidst these times of confusion and darkness. Remember before all else that Christ meant it when he said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Isn’t that especially true now in our own context?

May God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/27/2020 Message From Fr. Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

Last week, you may recall seeing or hearing a news report about Chippewa Falls area churches releasing a joint statement saying that their doors will remain closed for the time being to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, despite the ending of the Safer At Home order. The group of pastors that developed the statement I know well and consider friends. In fact, many of us have been meeting for lunch about once a month at the Goldsmith Coffee Bar (i.e., before the Safer at Home order began). Since the publication of the statement, the question has been raised as to why our Catholic parishes did not participate in or sign this joint document.

First of all, I can say that the group recognized that many other area pastors had differing directives coming from superiors in their own denominations. There was no pressure to sign, and there was a general understanding that many would not be able to do so.

Secondly, there is unique urgency that we have as Catholics have to return to public worship. While it is great that we can make available the possibility of watching Mass on TV or live stream, or listening to it on the radio, this is far from ideal. As I stated in a recent bulletin column, the Catholic Church is a sacramental church. In other words, Christ’s presence and his grace are transmitted to us chiefly through the means of the sacraments. Certainly, Christ comes to us in other ways, but the sacraments are the sure and primary way, and the sacraments require the physical presence of persons and personal contact. We believe this is how Christ set it up, and this is evident in the actions of Christ and the apostles in the New Testament. For this reason, the Catholic Church cannot simply “shut down” or stop what she does, for that would be in violation of Christ’s command. To do so would be prioritizing mere physical health over spiritual health. This is why the total shut down of Catholic churches in some parts of the country was such a scandal for many people.

As Catholics, we reopen with the intent of making more available the sacraments through public worship, but at the same time, reasonably attending to the rigorous safety precautions recommended for preventing the spread of disease. As many of you will return to Mass this coming weekend for the great feast of Pentecost, I ask that you be diligent in respecting the directives given to us for a safer gathering in church, as described in my bulletin column this past weekend. I look forward to seeing you back!

May God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish


5/20/2020 Message from Fr. Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

There are a couple things I thought I’d share with you this week. First, last Thursday, I took the opportunity to have an online conference call meeting with all our parish’s staff and office volunteers (about nine persons) as a sort of “touch base” in the midst of the pandemic. I regret not having thought to do something like this sooner! As a parish staff, we rarely (if ever) see each other all in one place and at the same time, as many in the group are part-time, and some have been staying home to remain safe. Sadly, we don’t always get to know each other very well.

We took time to go around and tell the group how things were going in our lives and families, particularly under the current pandemic circumstances, and then to bring forward to the group any personal prayer intentions that we had. It was beautiful. I was so edified. We have wonderful people working here at Notre Dame, and my hope is to continue building up an even greater culture of prayer and spiritual fellowship. Through this I was reminded again of the importance of having a group of spiritual friends in our life to accompany us on our own journey with the Lord.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that we are still in the month of May — a month dedicated to Our Lady. With the feast of Our Lady of Fatima this past May 13th, we are reminded that Mary our mother calls us to regular prayer and acts of penance. Penance — as in offering our daily inconveniences and crosses up in union with Jesus on the cross, and prayer — especially the Rosary. Below is a link to a great article I came across on reasons for praying the Rosary.

In prayer,

Fr. Jesse Burish

Five Reasons for Praying the Rosary:


Return to Mass Message from Fr. Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

I have happy news for you! In accordance with Bishop Callahan’s letter of May 14, 2020, we are now making preparations for the return of public weekend Masses. We are hopeful this will be the weekend of Pentecost, May 30-31. Although these Masses will be public, attendance will be limited to keep necessary social distancing. There will be no public Mass before the weekend of May 30-31. Please keep checking the parish website for updates.

Although we hope to begin public Mass at the end of this month, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains dispensed until further notice. As Bishop Callahan states in his letter, “at this time I encourage those over 65 and particularly those with underlying health conditions to stay home.” Notre Dame will continue live streaming the Saturday 4:30pm Mass.

Be assured of my continued prayers for you, and I look forward to seeing you again soon, if at all possible, at Mass. God bless you!

Fr. Jesse Burish

See also: https://diolc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Letter-to-all-faithful-May-14-2020.pdf


5/13/2020 Message from Fr. Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,

As I alluded to in my homily, this past Sunday’s Gospel really spoke to me. After Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me,” Thomas says, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way.” To be completely honest, as the pastor of a parish, I often express a similar concern to the Lord in prayer. “Lord, I do not know where I am going.” I hope you’re not too shocked or scandalized by that… or, maybe it’s just something that has become obvious to you by now ;-).

If there has ever been an occasion for any one of us to add those words to our prayer, “Master, we do not know where we are going,“ it would be now. I have been praying for many of you whom I know are out of work, or dealing with uncertainty regarding finances, uncertainty about schooling, uncertainty about taking care of a loved one in poor health, or loneliness, etc. As the pastor of this parish, many have been asking questions about our next steps going forward and the return of public Masses, and many other things connected to parish life. Waiting for directives from our Bishop and Diocese while variables are always changing, I have had to live with not having an answer — to the great frustration of some, including yours truly.

What I’ve learned in my experience as a priest so far is that the Lord provides in time, and that he allows periods of ambiguity, confusion, and uncertainty. The feeling that I need to have it all figured out right away is not from God. To follow him, the Lord often asks us to step out into the darkness and believe him when he says, “I am the way the truth and the life.” God loves our radical trust when we can’t see very far in front of us.

Fr. Jesse Burish

A favorite prayer from St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you.
All things are passing. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God.
God alone suffices.


5/5/2020 Message from Fr. Burish

Dear Parishioners of Notre Dame,During this Easter Season, I invite you to take time to read the Acts of the Apostles. One could say it’s the earliest history of the early Church. Throughout the season of Easter, we hear passages from Acts in our first readings at Mass, both on Sundays and throughout the week. Objectively, you will see, the Church endures a lot of serious struggles during this time. Jewish leaders persecute Christians in Jerusalem (beginning with the martyrdom of St. Stephen), and this leads many Christians to flee the city.

However, for St. Luke, the inspired author of Acts, these events are not really seen in a totally negative light. Instead, we’re given a picture of the working of God’s Providence. The faith of the early Church remains strong, and with that, God brings to it greater blessings through the trials it experiences. Acts also tells the story of Saul who had a hand in the death of St. Stephen. But through Stephen’s intercession, Saul comes to conversion and would eventually become known as St. Paul, the apostle. The early Jewish Christians who fled the persecution in Jerusalem would also bring about a greater spreading of the Faith.

In Acts of the Apostles, we are shown the pattern of God working in the face of evil and bad situations. As we continue to celebrate the Easter Resurrection of the Lord in the midst of all the uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety of this pandemic, may we strive to see the pattern of God in the working of it all and not give into discouragement or despair, limiting the possibilities of God. That’s Easter faith.

Please continue to keep me and your fellow parishioners in prayer during this time, and know you remain in my prayers as well.

Fr. Jesse Burish