NOVEMBER 19: THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Are you prepared for the return of the Master? What talents have we been entrusted with? Have we used our gifts or have we buried them or stored them on the shelf unopened and unused? Have we worked to increase our talents by using and sharing them? Our gospel today indicates that there may be some risk involved trying to increase our talents. We may fail or be rejected, but our gifts are not given to be buried in the sand. Our first reading shows us how we increase our talents: having obtained the raw materials of wool and flax, the good wife works with them, spins them into cloth and shares her wares with the poor and needy. In the Church, we have been given the gift of faith, and through prayer and study and sharing we can increase our faith, so as to let our faith overflow to those we meet. Let us use our talents and stay alert that we may be ready for the Lord's return and will hear those words: "Well done my good and faithful servant... come share your Master’s joy."
Another Liturgical Year is almost done ... December 3 begins the season of Advent, that time of preparation for Christmas.
A quick reminder from Busted Halo in case you don't remember the reason for the Advent Season:
Our Diocesan Family Life Office has put together a wonderful list of traditions and activities for the family to celebrate Advent:
Some other resources you may want to consider:
Make a retreat. If you can't get away, consider something like a daily prayer break. Loyola press offers a free email prayer break called SACRED ADVENT
The USCCB has an annual ADVENT CALENDAR with readings, lectio, prayers and activities
Bishop Barron offers a DAILY GOSPEL REFLECTION FOR ADVENT via email.
The Daughters of St. Paul offer a FREE ADVENT PLANNER with recipies, and prayers, planning lists, crafts etc.
And if you want to share the WORD this Christmas, check out Lighthouse Catholic Media. They are offering a case of books or CD's for Christmas for a dollar a book.
November 12 THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
How do you think of heaven? Do you think of it as a big wedding feast? Are you ready for the feast? It is so easy in our day and age to get distracted and forget that the goal is heaven. We, like the foolish ones, get bored waiting and allow our spirits to doze off. But Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today to stay alert, to remember who we are and what it is we hope for, to truly live our faith and not simply go through the motions. Shine your light so that others may see and also desire to come in to celebrate the great feast in heaven.
On October 14, a group of about 30 parishioners met for a morning workshop on parish hospitality. I was originally contacted by a parishioner from St. Augustine’s in Morrisonville who had attended the workshop by Sherri Wohlfert in June. They had so enjoyed the conference that they wanted to share it with their parish. After some back and forth emails, I realized that the simple talk or presentation that I was envisioning was not what was being asked for. They wanted an actual workshop where participants could grapple with ideas about hospitality. In small groups, they could begin to look at what they were already doing and what some next steps could be that would make their parish an even more welcoming community. Eventually I created a Saturday morning workshop focused on hospitality as seen through the lens of our diocesan vision statement. Some of the topics covered in this workshop were: We Are Rich in Gifts; Creating an Atmosphere of Hospitality; What is so special about our Parish; Whose Ministry is it anyway; Reaching out to those on the Peripheries; and How do we look to Outsiders and Visitors. If your parish would be interested in hosting a hospitality workshop, contact Marika at the Office of the New Evangelization firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-393-2920 extension 1380.
SEPTEMBER 24: TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Readings: Is 55:6-9/Phil 1:20c-24, 27a/Mt 20:1-16a
The Lord asks of us: "Are you envious because I am generous?" We live in an entitlement culture. We often grumble when others receive accolades and honors. We envy the success of others. How much energy do we waste keeping up with the Joneses, or hanging on and worrying about our possessions, when everything we have is gift. Rather than imitating the Joneses, can we follow Christ in giving of ourselves. Can we be grateful for all he has given us and give in return by showing mercy and kindness to our neighbor. For it is in giving that we receive. Let us not be afraid to serve others, for in serving we will find true peace and joy.
SEPTEMBER 17: TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Do we realize how merciful our God is? He has forgiven us what we could never have paid back ourselves. Jesus paid for our offenses with his life. And yet, are we holding on to grudges when our whole life is basically a gift from God. Is there someone you need to forgive? A grudge you need to let go of? Love one another as I have loved you, says the Lord. He has loved us by giving us his very life. Should we not do the same for our brothers and sisters?
SEPTEMBER 10: TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Readings: Ez 33:7-9/Rom 13:8-10/Mt 18:15-20
Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. We are not made to follow Christ on our own. We are part of the body, part of community. As such we are responsible not just for ourselves, but also responsible to watch over our brothers and sisters. We are our brother's keeper, and he is ours. We are all called to holiness, and that means that we must encourage one another, and at times lovingly correct one another. It also means that we must look for those who are missing from our parish pews. We all know people who no longer join us at Mass, who may have left the Church for whatever reason. Many of them are just looking for an invitation to return. Can you invite them and make them feel welcome?
I dislike the title, but love the book. In Everyone Leads, Chris Lowney first diagnoses the challenges facing the church from the low participation and church attendance, to uninterested young adults, the closing of parishes and schools, and creates a sense of urgency in the reader. We must use new approaches. The old ways are no longer effective and fruitful.
Chris Lowney proposes a solution that involves creating a new culture of leadership, where everyone – all of us – are co-responsible for the mission of the Church. He suggests a process where we allow for entrepreneurs to provide creative and innovative ideas. Where we are all accountable as good stewards of our talents and resources, where we monitor successes and failures (and learn from both). A Church where we focus on service of the poor and marginalized in order that we may transform hearts and souls. Transformed hearts and souls will reach out and engage and welcome those on the peripheries. The process Mr. Lowney proposes goes by the acronym EASTeR (Entrepreneurial, Accountable. Service oriented, Transformative and Reaching out & building Relationships.)
The positive news in the process is that we have all the resources we need. We know our mission: To lead others to faith, freedom and love of Jesus Christ and to make Jesus known and loved. To create a culture of encounter. We have the means: a billion faithful who are gifted by God for the mission of today. But we need to implement new strategies, new methods, and not be afraid to try new ways of doing things. We need to encourage and empower the faithful to try new ideas and not be afraid to run with them. Often great ideas come from outsiders who have a fresh perspective and imagination and who are not stuck in the same old thinking. In a way, our leadership are always the usual suspects. We tap insiders for leadership positions. We need to nurture holy entrepreneurs who are agile in creative approaches.
In the later chapters of the book, Chris Lowney details and tells stories of examples of each of the elements of the EASTeR acronym, and ends on the positive note that the challenges we face are also opportunities for creative solutions. The Holy Spirit has placed us at this time in history. We have the gifts needed for our time. Let us work together and pray: Come Holy Spirit raise up saints for our time.
Note: Chris Lowney will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Celebrate Christ on October 21 in Lake Placid. Online registration is available by clicking on the link above.
SEPTEMBER 3: TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus reminds us that to follow him leads to the cross. We are called to imitate him. We are called to give of ourselves. Jesus did not sugarcoat the call. He did not say it would be easy. As disciples, we are called to share in his passion. But he did remind us that he would be with us always. So we too, are to be truthful with – and accompany- those to whom we witness our faith. No one is called to walk this pilgrimage alone.