So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
— 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
I remember one year when Ash Wednesday and a presidential debate fell on the same day. Knowing there were a few Catholics involved, I waited to see if any would appear with ashes on their forehead on national television.
Alas, none of them did. And of course, there was no mention of it being Ash Wednesday.
It is not a holy day of obligation so maybe no one went to Mass that day. Or maybe they did and after reading Jesus’ admonishment of the hypocrites showing off their fasting, prayers, and almsgiving they decided to wash their foreheads. I certainly would never question a person’s faith by whether or not they still had ashes on their head.
However, we do allow the words of Jesus to serve as an excuse to play down our faith. I don’t think that ever was His intention. Bearing witness and showing off are too different things. I personally love to see all the area high school kids at Mass on Ash Wednesday before school.
And I know first hand that most of them wear those ashes all day long and are asked several times what that smudge on their head is all about. Believe me, when you are sixteen years old that is not showing off. That’s courage.
Ash Wednesday is a perfect day to bring God into the everyday places and moments of life. Whether you happen to be on television or in a grocery store, those ashes say more than any amount of words. If you can get to Mass early, they will be there all day. So, you say evangelization is difficult and not for you? On Ash Wednesday the Church makes it easy for you.
Reflection taken from the book, Everyday Stewardship: Reflections for the Journey, Tracy Earl Welliver, Liturgical Publications, 2015.
For Sunday, March 5, 2017, 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Romans 5:12-19 or 12, 17-19
Who do you trust? In his book, Soul Cravings, Erwin McManus tells an exceptional story about his two-year-old son getting caught crawling up the stairs. During one of his escapades, the father caught his son midway up the stairs and firmly told him to get down. In a normal two-year-old manner, the child exclaimed, “Daddy, carry me.” This interaction continued for a while and McManus remarks, “Then it happened. I never would have expected it. It took me entirely by surprise. He jumped.” McManus reached out his hands and caught his son. (more…)
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
We often say in the Church that stewardship is about the three T’s, time, talent, and treasure, but really, stewardship is about the big “E,” which is everything. We are made up of more than just our time, talent, and treasure, and the gifts that come from God are overwhelming.
All that we have, from the obvious to the not so obvious, is a gift from God. We are called to cultivate them all and offer them back to God with increase.
But that also means holding nothing back. That requires a stepping out in faith. Our trust then cannot be in the gifts God gives, since we have hopefully given them all over to God. Only in God can we place our trust.
Our homes, our 401k’s, our family, and our bodies all belong to God. With nothing left, we have nothing or no one else to put our trust in but God.
If you find yourself unable to place all of your trust in God, perhaps you are still holding something back. Is your comfort found in something other than God? It is pretty common for a Christian to “hide something away” while saying they are all in. But of course, nothing is hidden from God.
Pray about it and ask God to grant the strength to surrender all to Him. We are asked to trust in God, but really, true trust is a fruit that comes about when we have had the courage to surrender it all. Trust is just a word if we continue to serve two masters. The great thing is that not only will God not turn away from us, God will also help us turn toward Him.
You may be asked to surrender it all, but you are never alone.
For Sunday, February 26, 2017, 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious at least four times in today’s Gospel. I don’t know about you but I find these words easier said than done. When deadlines loom or money seems short or I have done things I wish I could take back, I worry. Will I have enough time to finish this project? Will I have enough money to pay my bills? Will the person I’ve hurt forgive me? (more…)
A post by Chuck Frost
I remember going to the record store almost every Tuesday when I was young to sort through the new releases. I recall one particular album that I knew was forthcoming, so I trekked weekly into the shop to ask the clerk: “Is it in yet?” When it finally arrived, I called my friends over and we ‘dropped the needle’ and listened together.
Those days are pretty much gone. If you have a Smartphone, you have all your music in your pocket. People walking down the street, earbuds on, is a common sight. Outside of concert attendance, music listening has become more private.
Modern music formats are also heavily compressed. The music piped through your phone and earbuds has a different sound than it does on a vinyl record. One artist, reflecting on his new album, said this:
“When it comes right down to it, I feel like the earbud generation is missing out a bit…. It’s a little bit soul-crushing to imagine, with the amount of work that went into the frequency spectrum of this record, that it would all be squished into tiny little laptop speakers or earbuds.”
Another difference between analog (vinyl/tape) and digital formats (CD/mp3) are the imperfections in the sound waves. Audiophiles will tell you that it’s those imperfections in the analog recording that help make it sound more real, more alive. I think this in part explains the recent resurgence of vinyl records. People are looking for authenticity.
I believe there’s an insight here relevant to the Christian life. It is tempting to compress our faith to the point that it becomes a mere private practice or personal matter – just ‘me and Jesus’. We might go to Mass but leave it there.
Faith, however, is communal, full-bodied, and meant to be shared. We gather not for our own private Mass experience, but to worship the Lord together and share in the joy of being brothers and sisters, with all our imperfections. And from there, we are called to go forth and emit the full spectrum of faith to a listening world.
Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 after spending 10 years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska.
An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017
My pastor likes to say that his parents would always remind him to “leave a place you visited a little better than the way you found it.” I have always tried to live by those words as well. The important word here is “tried” as I am sure that I have not always been successful.
The desire to always go a step further, to give even more than is required, is truly honorable. Jesus speaks to his disciples about this when he urges them to give more than what is asked and to travel two miles in service when all that was required of them is one.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to live the same way. It is fundamental to understanding a stewardship way of life. True generosity has no limits.
When we say that mature disciples are to answer the call of Jesus Christ regardless of the cost, we are inviting good stewards to embody this type of generosity. We can be the person who does not respond to the call, be the person who responds and gives what is required, or finally, be the person who seeks to give above and beyond what is required.
God doesn’t just give us what we need, but He gives us more than we need. Made in His image, we are called to do the same. If we try to live in this manner everyday, then we might just succeed on leaving this world a little better than the way we found it.
Post by Steve Bostford
When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked, “Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village,” (Mark 8:22-26).
After my confirmation class my co-teacher confided in me that she was suffering because of her job and personal circumstances and compounding responsibilities. She wondered if God was listening as he prayed as her situation had progressively gotten worse over time. I certainly wondered how to respond to such a dire situation and desperate plea for help.
In today’s Gospel reading Mark tells us three important things about healing: 1) the faith of the community is important, 2) reconciliation to the people of the community is important, and 3) the gift of faith is important. Jesus’ healing love enables us to see the world anew with the eyes of faith.
What should our response be to people in need of healing? As part of the community of faith we are called to have faith and lead others to Jesus and the Church, his and our community. We are to embrace those in need with compassion and offer tenderness and support. And together, we are to gaze upon the cross of the one who has gone before us in great suffering. By keeping our eyes on the cross of Jesus we are able to humbly approach the one who understands, loves, and reconciles.
Steve Botsford is the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans. Steve is married with three children and is the creator of FeastDay, the Liturgical Year Board Game.
Posted on February 16, 2017 by Liturgical Publications - LPi News
NEW BERLIN, WI – Liturgical Publications and YapStone today announced a definitive agreement to divest YapStone’s ParishPay™ merchant portfolio to Liturgical Publications (“LPi”), a Catholic stewardship and communications company. The sale is consistent with YapStone’s focus on providing end-to-end payment solutions to global marketplaces and large vertical markets. LPi’s acquisition of ParishPay’s merchant portfolio continues their expansion as a single source provider of digital, print and service solutions helping parishes create more vibrant and fiscally secure faith communities.
ParishPay customers will be transitioning to LPi’s WeShare service, the largest electronic-giving provider serving the Catholic Church both in the US and abroad. WeShare’s easy to use interface is compatible with all mobile devices and tablets, integrates with most church management systems, and provides the ability to set up parish events and formational offerings taking payments and registrations online. WeShare maintains a PCI Level 1 certification, the highest in the industry, and also conducts an annual SSAE-16 audit of its controls. WeShare customers are assigned a dedicated, (more…)
A post from Teresa Keogh
Where can I be hope in a divided place?
Work took me to Cyprus this weekend and I decided to Visit Buyuk Han, an old camel trading post in the city of Nicosia – but on the Turkish side. The Han is now a craft market and restaurant.
I crossed the checkpoint, showing my passport on first the Greek and then the Turkish side. Inside I found this crochet. Here I found hope in the midst of distrust.
Crocheting squares and joining them together is joining these two communities that have been divided for so many years.
A simple act of crochet has done what politics has failed to do. It is breaking down barriers and then building anew in a spirit of trust.
Where is God inviting me to spread peace when there is fear? I ask for the courage to work for unity whether in my home, the workplace or the world.
Teresa Keogh is Advisor for Stewardship for the Archdiocese of Southwark in London, England and previously served as Advisor for Stewardship and Collaborative Ministry for Portsmouth Diocese.
For Sunday, February 19, 2017, 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time
There has been a surge of attention given to the WWII vets who are fast dying off. The remnant who are healthy enough are being taken in Honor Flights to the Washington DC WWII National War Memorial where their buses deposit their frail bodies. These gentlemen and women either walk or are wheeled to the negative pool where they can remember their contribution to America’s freedom. The large pavilion pillars marking the battle sites where many watched their buddies die, rise high into an open sky. It is all so surreal. Usually a state senator meets the vets to offer the gratitude of the country. After a lunch down in the district, they are flown back to their home state with awakened memories of harder days when the skies were blackened by grenades and gunfire. (more…)