We are very excited to offer Pre-School Faith Formation on Sunday mornings during the 8:30 and 11:15 am Masses. Pre-School Faith Formation is intended for children 3-5 years old who may not be ready to attend Mass with their family on a regular basis. Parents drop their children off before Mass begins and pick their children up when Mass is over. The Pre-School classes offer a lesson based on Sunday’s Gospel as well as age-appropriate activities, songs, and crafts. No registration is necessary. We are still seeking catechists and assistants for these classes. Volunteers will need to commit to attending another Mass and teaching on a regular basis with flexibility based on the availability of the team. We need catechists on December 2, January 13, March 3, April 7, and May 5 at 8:30 am.
Everything Belongs to God
Do I really believe that everything I have belongs to God? What are the implications of realizing that what belongs to me, belongs to God first?
I, like many of you, am an adult orphan. My parents are both enjoying eternal life with God. For me, the most powerful lesson in understanding that everything belongs to God comes at the end of every funeral Mass, when we raise the bowl of incense in blessing the earthly remains and entrust the soul of our loved one into God’s hands. We rejoice with profound gratitude for the time on earth that we had. And we also lovingly give back to God what was on loan to us. Everything belongs to God!
We are stewards of what God has given us. God owns it; we use it. So how do we use those God-given talents we enjoy? How do we use the time that we have on earth, before we return it back to God?
Sometimes, I think that I am most generous in volunteering service hours at church and in spending time at church at Mass. I pray for others and I take good care of my family. I think I am being exemplary in my understanding of what it means to give time and talent. Additionally, when that basket gets passed around at the Offering of Gifts (that is what it is called), I put “something” in.
The rest of my talents, my time and my money are mine to do with as I please? Not exactly. Everything belongs to God! So God should be taken into consideration in everything I do.
And so I pray: Dear God, you provide for all that I need. Let me be free of my need to call them my gifts, my time and my talent. May I be generous in serving all, in giving generously and may I be blessed with the realization that what I have and what I am will always be enough with you as the center of my life. Let me live in gratitude for all of your gifts to me.
A Caress of Love—Mercy Lived
What is “lost” in your life? And what are we to do about what is lost in our lives? Jesus teaches us using three images—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. All three speak to us of God’s boundless love and bountiful mercy. Most especially these stories tell us that no matter how far away from God we may find ourselves, God is always waiting for us, ready to welcome us. God loves each one of us as if we were the only person on earth.
When we truly, deeply experience God’s love in this way, knowing our own brokenness and admitting that we too are often lost, we learn what kind of mercy we are called to express to others. When you reflect on what is lost in your life, think of the shepherd finding the one in a hundred, the woman who persists in finding the lost coin, and the father who is filled with compassion and runs to meet his wayward son, regaling him with the finest clothing and the finest party. Imagine yourself in the stories and befriend the feelings that arise.
Who are the people in my life that I am called to welcome back, to caress with love and compassion? How persistent can I be in looking for that which is lost? And how can I celebrate not only the “finding of the lost” in my own life, but also my own being found by God again. God looks for us constantly! Where and when can we be found?
Are you looking for a career move? Perhaps getting ready to start your professional career? Are you are unemployed or underemployed? Maybe you just want to develop a greater awareness of God and His plan for you as you progress through your career? St. Francis of Assisi’s Career Transformation Ministry provides practical guidance on finding the right job while integrating scripture with career guidance. Examples of topics include: Resumes, Networking and Interviewing. We also help employers post positions for easy access by parishioners. Click here for more information. We invite you to join us anytime for meetings on Mondays from 7–8:15 pm in the Martha Room. While we discuss scripture as it pertains to those looking for their next career, this ministry is open to anyone regardless of faith.
Children are always welcome at our Masses, and we are glad to see them here with us. We would like to remind you that we offer babysitting in the nursery for children up to age 3 at all English Masses and pre-school faith formation for 3-4 year olds is available in Henke Hall during the Sunday morning Masses.
The Cost of Discipleship
Discipleship calls us to continually refocus our lives and our thoughts on Jesus and on the Gospel. What does it mean for us to be disciples? What did it mean to you when you were seven years old and received Holy Communion for the first time? What did it mean when you were confirmed? When you left your parents’ home? When you got married? At the birth of your first child? When you lost something very valuable to you? What was that “cost of discipleship?”
Jesus’ words in this Sunday’s Gospel are very direct and strong: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” and “Anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.” These are hard imperatives. But if we love as Jesus teaches us to love, we know that love makes us willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of another. We sacrifice because we love. Love changes everything and we can bear almost any kind of burden, any kind of cross. When we reflect on the Paschal Mystery in our lives, we come to realize that suffering and death to old ways of thinking and being, do lead to Easter glory, to Resurrection!
When we are passionately and intentionally focused on following Jesus, we know that we must be faithful to the process—to continuous calls to bear burdens and to renounce possessions or the things that possess us! How does following Jesus shape our daily life, values, decisions and goals?
As you prepare to enter into the liturgy this weekend, tell Jesus what it means for you to take up your cross and follow him. And be sure to LISTEN as Jesus responds to you.
It’s Hard to be Humble
“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.” Do you remember those lyrics to Mac Davis’ 1980 song? For some strange reason, that song came to my mind as I read the Gospel for this weekend. It might be because, in recent weeks, I’ve noticed how much effort there is to be “first,” to be at the top. There’s no end to competition in sales, in sports, in politics. We desperately need this Gospel to remind us that in Jesus’ invitation to the banquet, there is a complete reversal of what we consider to be the best ranking.
Admittedly, it is hard for some of us to be humble. And others put themselves down and deny their giftedness. That might be a kind of “false humility.” So exactly what is the humility that Jesus desires? I think the call is to not think of ourselves greater or lesser than anyone else. Can we stand in a balance, knowing ourselves honestly, assuming equality with all others? Matthew Kelly reminds us that our sole responsibility is to become the best version of ourselves that God intended for us to be. The tricky, thorny part is what GOD intended for us to be!
Jesus in both words and actions tells us that all are welcome at the table. All are invited to sit at the table. My imagination tells me that in Jesus’ time, tables would be circular. In a circle, there is no real place of honor. In Jesus’ way of thinking, all are included in sharing their gifts—diverse and rich! To be different does not mean deficient. In God’s eyes, all are equal. We are all beloved children of a loving God.
Imagine yourself this weekend having Jesus come to you and invite you to meet the poor, the homeless, the illiterate, the jobless, the person of a different race or faith tradition. Listen to them speak to you. And pay attention to your response. Try to not talk back… just listen contemplatively.
Our St. Francis handbell choir is looking for new players! If you can read music, especially rhythms, and you would like to be part of a unique ensemble, this is your opportunity. Please contact Don Bernhard in the parish office. We’d love to hear from you! No commitment necessary at this time. Let’s talk.
Does the narrow, closed door puzzle you? If you had the choice of doors to walk through, which would you choose? In the Gospel reading this weekend, we hear of narrow doors, persons knocking on locked doors and surprises about who will enter into the kingdom of heaven. In other words, this story is about gatekeepers and “insiders” and “outsiders.” Who exactly will experience the kingdom of heaven?
In my family, everyone depended on my grandmother to pray us into heaven. My brothers, to this day, will claim that they can live life as they want because they have a sister who is a nun and ultimately, she will pray them into heaven. That’s counting on a lot! I keep telling them they are on their own!
This Gospel for this weekend hits hard….it isn’t about who you know or what you have done. Only one relationship counts. And that relationship is with Jesus. We can sit in church every Sunday and listen, we can check off every sacrament we have received, we can do good deeds. But in the end, “insiders” will be left out, and “outsiders” will be brought in. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. So many reversals.
Ultimately what matters most is whether Jesus recognizes us as related to him in our hearts. Can we call Jesus our “essential and first friend?” And does it matter where we are put, what door we walk through, as long as we are with Jesus? Read Anne Osdieck’s poetic portrayal of this Gospel here.