Featured Bulletin Makeover: St. Joachim

Posted on October 30, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

St. Joachim Catholic Church in Hayward, CA, is a bilingual community united in faith and guided by the Holy Spirit. Needing to communicate in two languages, their bulletin editor was challenged with incorporating double the copy and still making a coherent bulletin.

Here are a few techniques that helped unite the communication as one bulletin:

  • Created a new masthead that reflects the community’s diversity that can easily be used on the church website and other communications
  • Created a half-page space for art on the cover that can be changed out each week with a variety of images from Art & Media Portal
  • Used columns to combine pages so the entire community can read messages and articles side by side each week
  • Added more photos, simple lines, and spacing in the makeover to improve the flow and allow white space to be used more effectively

The Layers of Fall

Posted on October 28, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

FallIn our lives as Christian disciples, we put layers and layers of theology or spirituality on top of our primary relationship with Jesus. Initial layers of prayer and Church teaching are necessary to not only cultivate our initial belief or relationship with Jesus, but also to protect it. But as time goes on, we can continue to put on so many layers that it is difficult to move.

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The Call to Greatness

Posted on October 27, 2015 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, November 1, 2015, All Saints

Photo of saint figurines by Gwoeii / Shutterstock.com.

When we are young, we carry within us ambitious dreams for our future. We imagine what we may be one day-an astronaut, a doctor, a professional athlete. In our minds, nothing seemed impossible for us. There seemed to be nothing we could not achieve if we only had the opportunity.

With hard work and determination, many of us are able to realize the dreams of our youth. However, most likely, we came to understand that our goals were unrealistic or not what we really wanted. So we set our sights on other careers. Through our whole life we are always looking to the future, considering what seems good to us, and taking the opportunities to reach our goals.

Each of us knows in our hearts that we are called to something great. We often think of it only in earthly terms, in terms of a career or in terms of financial success. However, the greatness we are called to is not something that can be measured in money or power or fame or influence. Rather, the greatness we are called to cannot be fully realized in this life. It is something that can only be fully achieved once we pass from this life into the eternal life of heaven. We are each called to be great saints.

It is natural for us to feel a bit of trepidation when we hear that we are called to be great saints. We might think that we cannot be like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Francis, or the other great saints. And it is true, we cannot be like them. They served God’s plan in their own way and there will never be saints like them again. However, we are called to serve God’s plan in our own way, too, and there will never be saints like us again. Each of us is irreplaceable in God’s kingdom. Not even a Saint Francis could do what we alone are called to do. It may not seem like much, and no one may seem to notice us, but it is important and necessary in the eyes of God.

The founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaria Escriva, taught that each of us is called to be a saint right where we are. We do not have to move to another country, change our line of work, or live in a monastery. Rather we are called to radiate the love and goodness of God in our schools, in our places of work, in our homes, and in our communities. Many of us often fall into the temptation of thinking that we could be better Christians if only things were different in our lives. We would be better people if only we were not married or if only we were not surrounded by so many immoral people at work or if we lived in another part of the country. But those are all excuses that blind us to the work of grace that God offers us. God put us where we are to serve his purpose. And, no matter what difficulties we face, he will provide us with all we need to be great saints if only we dedicate ourselves to doing his will in all things and loving others in all circumstances.

On this feast of All Saints, we are not gathered to celebrate the lives of the saints we know about. They already have their own feast days. Instead today we celebrate all the unknown saints, all those who lived simple, quiet lives of charity and prayer. They went unnoticed for the most part, but God worked through them in ways that only he knew. They may be our parents, our teachers, our priests, deacons, or nuns who were examples of holiness to us.

Today we also celebrate the high calling we each have to be saints in our own right. God has called us to be his sons and daughters through baptism and has placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we may know his will and do it through every minute of our existence. It is a matter of surrendering ourselves to his plan no matter how difficult it may be or how little sense it may make to us. Then we can lay hold of all the promises Jesus spells out for us in today’s Gospel-to find the comfort, the peace, the joy, and the glory that our hearts long for but that only God can give.

Douglas Sousa, STL

PRAYER

O God our Father
source of all holiness,
the work of your hands is manifest in your saints,
the beauty of your truth is reflected in their faith.

May we, who aspire to have part in their joy,
be filled with the spirit that blessed their lives
so that, having shared their faith on earth,
we may also know their peace in your kingdom.

-Michael Buckley, The Catholic Prayer Book.

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Members of the Royal Family

Posted on October 26, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

Child of GodWe say that claiming the name of Christian means we “put on Christ,” that we no longer go forth into the world, but Christ in us.

As adopted sons and daughters of God we truly are just like Christ. In the true spirit of adoption, when God looks at us He does not differentiate between His only begotten and those adopted. He only sees His children and He loves them all. Wow!

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Everyday Stewardship: Don’t Forget Your Glasses

Posted on October 23, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

JesusAs Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging.

On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 10:46-52

glassesYes, I am getting older. I am reminded every time I try to sing at Mass, cook a meal, take medication, assemble a newly purchased product, or even read my child’s report card. I cannot see! I used to get so frustrated and even feel helpless.

Now I have reading glasses everywhere. I used to have one pair, but that was ridiculous. I never had them when I needed them. So now I have them everywhere: each room of my house, each vehicle, etc. If I find myself in a situation where I cannot see and I have no glasses nearby, I have only myself to blame.

We can often be blinded in situations that call for a response of stewardship. We find ourselves oblivious to the needs of others. We miss the signals that we are being called to give of ourselves to a cause, a community, or an individual. The seemingly important things in life block our vision to the smaller everyday callings that Jesus places in our path.

The main reason why this occurs is that we fail to avail ourselves of the help that Jesus offers. Do we really think that we can be good stewards all on our own?

Thy WordI think of the words of Psalm 119, or more truthfully the words of an old Amy Grant song; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Just like Bartimaeus, without Jesus Christ, we can’t really see a thing.

Some of life is obvious, but most of life is far from it. When we look at things through the lens that Jesus provides, stewardship opportunities are everywhere. Jesus provides this lens when we dedicate ourselves to prayer, study, and virtue. The good news is you can then take the lens wherever you go.

If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot see, you have only yourself to blame.

For Those Who Are No Longer Free

Posted on October 21, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

addictionThe problem with addiction is often times your freedom is so limited that you can no longer see you are being held captive. And whether the addiction is drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, or some other vice, the addicted person never really asked for the dependence he or she now experiences. Choices were made to disregard parental wisdom, inherent good, or the effects of sin, but there was no choice to give away the ability to choose.

It is as if one ventured down a darkened road with plans to return home, only they are unaware that the road they hoped to return on no longer exists.

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What Are You Looking For?

Posted on October 20, 2015 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, October 25, 2015, 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Printed image of Jesus heals the blind man in Grace Church Chiangmai, Thailand. Photo © Freedom Studio / Shutterstock.com.

Nearly thirty years ago, U2 proclaimed in their hit song, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” —an anthem for searchers everywhere. A generation later, it seems, we’re still searching.

A study a few years back found that people are changing religions at a phenomenal rate. According to Pew:

“More than four in 10 American adults are no longer members of the religion they were brought up in, while about one in 10 changed religion, then went back to the one they left, the study found. Just under five in 10—47 percent—have never changed faith.

“Some have switched more than once, and a small number have changed three times or more, according to the study.”

A more recent survey, from this year, found an increase in the number of “nones”:

“People who self-identify as atheists or agnostics (about 7% of all U.S. adults), as well as those who say their religion is ‘nothing in particular,’ now account for a combined 22.8% of U.S. adults—up from 16.1% in 2007. The growth of the ‘nones’ has been powered in part by religious switching. Nearly one-in-five U.S. adults (18%) were raised as Christians or members of some other religion, but now say they have no religious affiliation.”

So many of us are struggling with a restless sense of searching, particularly in matters of faith. So is it any wonder that this Sunday’s Gospel strikes such a powerful chord: the story of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus who, when asked by Jesus what he wants, answers with profound directness and simplicity: “Master, I want to see.”

Isn’t that the common barometer of every person who yearns for a deeper faith, a clearer purpose, a sense of direction? We want to see. Daily life can be obscured by so much—ambition, pressure, responsibilities. We want to see what our purpose is. We want to see hope. We want to see the face of God.

The Gospel suggests that simply having that desire, that humble yearning, may be enough. A beggar encounters Christ, cries out for pity, and is given the miraculous gift of sight. And with that gift, he does the only thing he can do: he becomes a follower of Christ.

This Gospel challenges us to ask ourselves: What are we searching for? What do we want to see? And it offers the reassurance that we can see, and understand, by taking our case to Christ, and pleading our cause, and taking a leap of faith.

It also suggests that if some of us still haven’t found what we’re looking for, well, maybe we have been looking in the wrong places.

Dcn. Greg Kandra

PRAYER

Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.
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