Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Posted on February 10, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

toysThe bumper sticker read “He who dies with the most toys wins!” I am sure you have seen this saying as well and it stands as a humorous reminder of the culture in which we live where we tend to accumulate stuff to provide happiness and meaning to our lives.

Storage facilities have sprung up everywhere because we can’t seem to part with all our stuff. Even if we have no use for some of our stuff at the present moment, we seem convinced that we might need it in the future. How could we ever handle getting rid of something that we may someday actually need?

Click here to read the full post

February 10 – Ash Wednesday

Posted on February 10, 2016 by - Lent Reflections

ashWednesdayToday’s Gospel

“We are ambassadors for Christ, (2 Cor 5:20).”

Daily Lent Reflection

As we begin Lent this year, let us remember that it is a time for both repentance and renewal. Lent is a season to look at our own inner disunity and the disunity we all experience between our faith and our actions. But it is also a season of hope. Let us pray that we can enter this season open to the grace to renew our baptismal promises at Easter.

Daily Lent Challenge

Today I will reflect on how and where I am an ambassador for Christ and look for new opportunities to share the Gospel.

Teresa Keogh, Archdiocese of Southwark

Temptations of the Election Cycle

Posted on February 9, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, February 14, 2016, 1st Sunday of Lent

Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.

It seems that all election cycles begin with voters bemoaning the lackluster candidates running for office. If this year’s candidates appear to be more mockable than ever, they are at least generating record turnout and voter interest.

Election years provide an opportunity to take the pulse of the nation. More than at any other time, our hopes and fears are on display. And with them, the temptations we are susceptible to as a country.

Just as Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread, we are tempted to measure the health of our nation in economic terms. Jobs and business growth always top most lists of voter concerns. The current state of our economy is a mixed bag of a declining unemployment rate, lower gas prices, and rising real estate values alongside weak exports and a nosediving stock market. However, are leading economic indicators the only way to gauge our nation’s health? What does the growing scourge of heroin addiction have to say about how our young people view this country’s future? What does the increasing push to legalize euthanasia say about how we treat the sick and how our elderly citizens view their healthcare options? When we turn the focus to the poorest and most vulnerable among us, we avoid the temptation to measure progress in dollars and cents.

The other temptation we fall prey to is pitting one group of citizens against another. This tendency has created some of the most memorable clichés in recent history whether it be the vilification of the top one percent of wage earners or the rhetorical Wall Street/Main Street juxtaposition. We have divided the country into camps—Democrat and Republican, conservative and liberal, red state and blue state. Even within those same camps members argue about who is most conservative or most authentically progressive. Everyone must pick a side. Though we pay lip service to consensus and bipartisanship, in the end the political process is about one side imposing its agenda on the other. Rather than build a culture of solidarity, we are more fragmented than ever.

Finally, perhaps the greatest temptation of all is to be so disillusioned with politics that we not get involved at all. If we at least could manage some outrage at the state of politics in our country we might be able to start a meaningful reform movement, but most Americans are too indifferent to even show up to vote. It could be caused by distrust of the media. It could be that the hectic pace of modern life leaves no time to worry about anything other than family and work. Or it could be that people, for the sake of their sanity, cannot bear the rancor of political debate. However, the disengagement of so many voters has left a void that special interests are all too happy to fill while leaving ordinary citizens feeling increasingly powerless.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives us the antidote to these temptations: “It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” When we worship God, we become better citizens. We put money at the service of people rather than people at the service of money. Motivated by love of neighbor, we do not consider those who view the world differently than we do as enemies but rather as sisters and brothers. Our political involvement becomes a response to Jesus’ call to service rather than a means of dominating others. And our conviction that true peace and justice will only be fully achieved in the world to come helps us to overcome the disillusionment and frustration of having to negotiate lesser evils and tolerate less than perfect solutions. All the while we insist on having the freedom to practice our faith not because we want to dominate others or impose an agenda on them but because we are convinced that it will make our country a better place that values every human life and gives everyone the opportunity to reach the American dream.

Douglas Sousa, STL


O God, we acknowledge You today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank You for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to You.

We thank You for Your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank You for the opportunity that this election year
puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that Your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their
Their response to You requires that they be politically

Awaken Your people to know that they are not called to be
a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to You in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read Your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken Your people to a commitment to justice,
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when Human Lives
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of Your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.


—A Prayer for our Nation’s Election, from Catholic Online,

Download PDF

Your Son Will Live

Posted on February 8, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

JesusJohn 4:43-54 is a gospel passage that has taken on more meaning for me over the last two years.  It is the story of the royal official in Capernaum whose son was ill.  This official begged Jesus to come heal him so he would not die.  Jesus replied, “Go.  Your son will live.”

Reflecting on the fifth Corporal Work of Mercy, I am reminded that two years ago this week my youngest son was rushed to the hospital with a brain infection that nearly took his life.  A terrifying experience, to be sure.

Click here to read the full post

What Does Faith Have to Do With Football?

Posted on February 5, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

SuperbowlSocialMore than 100 million viewers worldwide will watch the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos face off in Super Bowl 50 this Sunday in Santa Clara, CA. A few days later, millions of Catholics worldwide will fill churches on Ash Wednesday to receive the sign of the cross in ashes on their foreheads.

To some, the Super Bowl is just a game. But even games can teach us valuable spiritual lessons if we pay close enough attention.

Here are four characteristics shared by athletes and disciples:


No man gets to the Super Bowl alone—he has a dedicated team of individuals who are of one like mind, working together, and pursuing the same goal. Individual effort matters, but even quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton must have receivers who can catch their passes. Every player has a place and every man is important to the success of the team.

The same is true in the church. In 1 Corinthians 12:9, Paul explains how just as “a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” We come together to be one body in Christ and we are most effective when we work together just as God always intended.

Every pastor needs a team of people around him to support his mission. Every ministry leader, volunteer, staff member, mother, father, and person in the pews contribute to the success of the parish. Every disciple has his or her place in God’s kingdom and God works through each of them.


Every successful NFL team needs a coach to develop strategies and plays to win on Sunday. That strategy is then communicated to everyone on the team. In addition to the coach, there are leaders on the field who execute the coach’s strategies and are responsible for “rallying the troops” to be their very best and achieve victory.

Parishes have similar levels of leadership. Every Sunday, the pastor shares the word of God and how the lessons of the Gospel can be applied in our everyday lives. Deacons, ministry leaders, and other leaders continue to drive that message home to parishioners throughout the week and “rally the troops” for Jesus.

As disciples, we are each called to be leaders right where we are, sharing the word of God and carrying out the mission of the church. We are also called to make disciples for Christ, teaching them how to recognize the voice of God and to follow him.


Many NFL players have been playing the game since they were children, spending countless hours reviewing plays, exercising, practicing, and playing the game they love. This requires time away from their families, countless long days and nights, and puts a physical toll on their bodies that can last a lifetime.

Discipleship always comes with a cost. When Jesus called the first disciples, he asked many of them to walk away from their lives and follow him and he often asks us to do the same. Many left behind jobs and families, and all but one of the Apostles lost their life for the cost of Christ.

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 16:24 that anyone who wishes to follow him “must deny himself, [and] take up his cross.” No sacrifice is too big and this is a war against our human nature. But it is a war in which God himself fights for us.


The words “disciple” and “discipline” share the same root and both refer to teaching, suffering, and correction in pursuit of perfection. Pro football players spend their entire lives training their bodies and minds to achieve athletic perfection.

Disciples spend their entire spiritual lives training their body, mind, and spirit to conform to the will of God. This is a daily practice that should encompass every area of our lives with the goal of our outer actions reflecting the inner change made in us through Christ.

We pursue holiness at all costs in hopes of one day receiving eternal life in Heaven—a far greater prize than any Super Bowl ring.


Using Video to Engage Visitors on Your Website

Posted on February 4, 2016 by - Catholic Tech Talk

Every parish website speaks to visitors a little different–some have a welcome message, some have an “I’m New” menu filled with information, and some use video.

Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Beaverton, OR, has done a great job of putting together a welcome video that communicates directly to visitors and shows them what parish life in their community is all about.

For other video ideas for your website, click here.
For tips on recording videos for your website on your phone, click here.

If you are looking for a website provider that allows you to easily use videos throughout your parish website, sign up for a WeConnect webinar today.


I Am What I Am

Posted on February 4, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

AmDon’t you feel inspired when you hear a good conversion story? I know I do. Especially tales of how people overcame addiction or despair to find satisfaction in the presence of God. It’s the whole meaning of the hymn, Amazing Grace: “I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.”

The action there is from God for it is He who finds us. He is the Good Shepherd who left the 99 to find that one lamb who could never find its way on its own. It is through grace that we can even turn at all, and it is grace that will lead us home.

Click here to read the full post

How to Set Up Your Church’s Facebook Page

Posted on February 3, 2016 by - Catholic Tech Talk

churchFacebook is a great tool for churches to engage parishioners, create prayer chains, evangelize the lost, and encourage stewardship.

If your church is not already on Facebook, here are some steps to set up your account.

  1. Log in to your personal Facebook account. If you do not yet have an account, click here and follow the instructions labeled “How do I sign up for Facebook?”
  2. Go to
  3. Click the Company, Organization or Institution button and select “Church/Religious Organization” from the category menu.
  4. Enter your church name and click the Get Started button.
  5. Under the About tab, enter a sentence or two that briefly tells people about your church. You are limited to 155 characters for this description.
  6. Enter the Web address you would like for your Facebook page. We recommend matching this to your regular church Web address—i.e., if your website is, enter “stmichaelmilwaukee” and click the Save Info button.
  7. Click the Upload From Computer button to add a profile picture for your church. This can be an image of your church, your church’s logo, or a seasonal image of your choosing. Once you have selected a photo, click the Next button.
  8. Click the Add to Favorites button to add a quick link to your church Facebook page to your favorites panel. Click the Next button.
  9. Under the Preferred Page Audience tab, simply click the Save button. You can adjust this setting later.
  10. Your page is now created. At the top of your page you will see icons under the headingComplete Page Info. Click through these icons at any time to Add a Cover Photo and Add Contact Info.

Now that your page is created you can create posts, add images, and share content. In a future article, we will discuss some best practices for Facebook.

The Good News of Catholic Schools

Posted on February 3, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

piusThere are many reasons why people decide to deepen their relationship with God or become fully initiated into the Catholic Church. Each person has a unique story and journey. It is one of the aspects of working with RCIA that is so interesting and rewarding.

I have shared in many lives over the years and have become part of their faith stories. Out of all the instruments that God uses to bring about conversion in someone, there is one instrument that stands above all others in terms of effectiveness: the parish Catholic school.

Click here to read the full post