The Way of Little Sacrifices

Posted on August 29, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Bending Towards JusticeFor Sunday, September 03, 2017
22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

Having four kids (and three of them boys close in age) guarantees me at least two things in life: there will always be messes and there will always be fights. The latter is something that is, most days, minor or done in jest. But every once in awhile we get two of the stubborn ones fighting over a beloved toy and chaos ensues. One thing that catches my eye is the outside motivation that defuses the rage. I can usually tell how beloved the object is simply by what gets them to pull away for a second and get their head on straight again. “Oh, you’ll trade me for a cookie?” Then I secretly note the true value of the toy that I can likely donate in the future.

But the ones that really tell me something are the fights that end on their own with little help from me. When I remind them that pulling at the toy will likely break it, the first one to let go is usually the one that truly loves that toy—the rudimentary life lesson that if we truly love something (or someone) we have to be ready and willing to let it go if that is what is best for it. (more…)

Do You Know Him?

Posted on August 27, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

know Jesus

Sometimes when I ask one of my children about who they were with or about a classmate at school they answer me with, “You don’t know them.” Apparently, since I do not know him or her personally, I do not need to know the person’s name. I may not know this person but I do know that he or she exists in the everyday life of one of my children. If my children don’t share with me anything about their friend or classmate, I can only assume he or she has no great impact on my sons’ or daughter’s daily lives. Of course, sometimes the response I get is simply my teen being a typical teen.

(more…)

Sustaining Generosity

Posted on August 24, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

increased offertoryWe all feel the pinch, don’t we? The relation of income to outflow is a tense conversation in many parishes. It feels like churches cost more than they used to, with aging facilities, competitive salaries for necessary lay ministers, and new programs to enliven faith amid a world where many find it easier to have none. Where does that leave the average Catholic parish? For many parishes, running an increased offertory program is the best solution to relieve the tension. Even so, a new name and new mailings isn’t quite enough.

(more…)

Tech Tools for Getting More Done in Less Time

Posted on August 22, 2017 by - Catholic Tech Talk

This is a guest post from Edmund Mitchell.

less timeI stood in St. Peter’s Square a few years ago and a friend said the Pope’s office window is the last light to turn off at the Vatican, communicating to everyone just how hard the Pope is working for his flock. “Pope’s Window Syndrome” hits people who work for the Church, as they put in grueling 50-60 hour workweeks, leaving lights on in their office long after everyone else leaves for the evening. And while putting in 60 hours a week may make you feel like you are working hard, not getting paid enough, and completely unappreciated, there is a lot of evidence that suggests the more hours you work, the less productive you become. (See this link, that article, and here.) Not to mention the huge negative impact on your family life if you’re married.

Enter Sheryl Sandberg and Parkinson’s Law.

(more…)

Mercy: To Give and Receive

Posted on August 20, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

mercyAn Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is now in the history books and looking back I wonder if I have been changed at all by the observance. Certainly the focus on mercy wasn’t all about God’s mercy toward me? Yes, I focused on my sin and the need for God’s forgiveness and grace, but hopefully that changed how I live my life and how I offer mercy to others.

(more…)

Bringing Young Adults to Christ

Posted on August 19, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

young adultsWhat started as a basement prayer group now draws around one hundred weekly attendees from up to sixty miles away. ARMEE is what happens when a community doesn’t wait for ministry to come to them.

Back in 2008, California native Josh Madruga would pray on a regular basis with some of his friends in their hometown of Turlock. As they continued to pray and do youth ministry together, they realized God wanted to do something bigger.

(more…)

Life with Conflicting Opposites

Posted on August 16, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Life with Conflicting OppositesFor Sunday, August 20, 2017
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 56:1, 6-7
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

A simple authentic and honest encounter with another human being can reveal hidden truths, allow enemies to embrace, and mutual respect to flourish. It is necessary to journey into the heart of a person in order for walls, prejudices, and antiquated barriers to be removed. Inclusivity has been one of the hallmarks of God’s agenda from the beginning of time. His house is intended to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” where human dignity is safeguarded regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what we believe. (more…)

The Graciousness of Mary

Posted on August 15, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Feast of the Assumption

Assumption of MaryAn everyday steward is called to be gracious. I read once that to be a gracious person meant to walk softly, speak with intent, and to leave those you have met feeling that their lives were better that day because they encountered you. What a way to live!

But alas, living like that each and every day is so very hard. I hate to think that some times people I have encountered are happy to see me go, but I know that it is true. As Christians we are graced people, but on some days, that grace can seem pretty hidden.

If you are looking for an example of gracious living look no further than Our Lady. She answered the call regardless of the cost and she lived her life with a great dignity in the face of horrible trials. She was a gracious host to the Incarnation in her womb and she continues to invite us to get to know her son better. She certainly embodies the definition of gracious living above.

We are called to always be ready and open to the call of her son. He will bring us to those in need, seeking light in a world of darkness. Our hope must be then that after our encounter with another, they will feel enriched by our presence. Of course, we will know, like Our Lady knew before us, that it wasn’t about us at all. It was about the Jesus in us meeting the Jesus in them.

The Real Possibility of Holiness

Posted on August 13, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

holinessI remember when all three of my children were learning to swim. In the beginning, it seemed like no matter how much assurance I gave them, they were certain they would drown. Even after watching me float in the water, they were pretty sure their bodies were created to sink. In time, they grew more comfortable in the water. Eventually, they could even swim the length of the pool. But this did not happen overnight. They had to grow in their faith that swimming was possible, not just for others, but for them as well.

(more…)