The Greatest Gift

Posted on May 31, 2018 by - Everyday Stewardship

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What else is there to give when one has already given away their body and their life?

What more can one say or do to demonstrate love for another when all they have has been given to another? This total giving of self to loved ones cannot be trumped by flowery words or material gifts that are fleeting. This is the ultimate in love. This is the love Jesus had for us on the way to his passion, at the institution of the Holy Eucharist. This is the love he has for us daily in the celebration of the Mass on altars in every church, in every city, in every nation on earth. No one can give more. No one can ask for more. This is the true heart of Christian stewardship.

If you take the time to gaze upon your God in the simplest of forms and begin to reflect on what has actually taken place with bread and wine becoming the presence of the Divine, then you can begin to understand true humility, sacrifice, and love. And when you have the privilege to take that Real Presence into your body at the meal where you are an honored guest, you become one with the one who is the embodiment of stewardship. Then, you must ask the question of yourself,

“How can I even begin to reflect the love that I have encountered at this feast?”

The answer is you can begin with the simple actions of the day: where will you go, whom will you meet, and in what work will you partake? Jesus Christ has shown that the greatest gift ever given can be disguised in this world in a piece of bread. By joining your body to his, he can now transform human hearts, not by grand acts but by everyday acts, by everyday people, practicing Everyday Stewardship.

-Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

Simple Ideas to Build Church Community

Posted on May 31, 2018 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

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The tarnished aluminum folding chairs, oil paintings of the pastors since the 1860’s, Folger’s coffee, and all the donuts you could imagine. The “Donut Sunday” of my childhood is tactile and palpable. Scattered memories made in the aging church basement still come up in conversations with my siblings and me decades later. Even now, when I return to my hometown and join my parents for Sunday Mass, the only thing that’s changed is the new little faces with wide, sparkling eyes reaching for their dessert masquerading as breakfast. And more sprinkled donuts. They’ve upgraded.

Each parish has its classic, stalwart event that draws the regulars and the occasional visitor. Whether your budget for hospitality is big or small, here are three simple ideas to build church community.

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God Sees the Worth in All of Us

Posted on May 30, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: God Sees the Worth in All of UsFor Sunday, June 3, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Exodus 24:3-8
Hebrews 9:11-15
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26

When I first got married, I was clueless about food and cooking. My husband wasn’t much more skilled, and together our repertoire of recipes was a rotation of frozen pizzas, tostadas, and takeout. I once bought potatoes thinking I could find a way to use them but, not so surprisingly, they were promptly tucked to the back of the pantry and forgotten about. We quickly learned that forgotten food soon becomes rotten food.

A simple lesson in biology or life experience has taught us all the same. Living creatures don’t last forever. Whether it’s potato skins or a pet dog, there is a finality to everything we touch on this earth. And for some, this sense of finality creates disordered ambition and laws.

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Mystery in an Age of Fact-Finding

Posted on May 23, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Mystery in an Age of Fact-FindingFor Sunday, May 27, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
Romans 8:14-17
Matthew 28:16-20

“Do you want to cut straight to the facts?” This helpful pop-up window appeared after I’d scrolled through a handful of news articles on a major network’s website. It offered an opportunity to sign up for a morning news debrief. My immediate, internal answer was “no.” Not that I don’t find facts valuable or didn’t want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, but I wanted context. I wanted anticipated impact. I wanted the story.
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4 Tips for a Smart Summer

Posted on May 17, 2018 by - Catholic Tech Talk

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In the coming weeks, school is out, relaxing is in, and vacation is on everyone’s mind. As the school year programming winds down, the rhythm will change at your vibrant parish. The hustle and bustle of spring sacraments has peacefully subsided. Youth and children’s ministry have a few major events, but weekly sessions are at a standstill. Staff takes vacations, and the parish office might close early on Fridays. With summer right around the corner, how can your parish make the most of it?

 

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An Era of Change

Posted on May 16, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Rediscovering NatureFor Sunday, May 20, 2018
Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Gal 5:16-25
Jn 20:19-23 or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

It is amazing to consider how dramatically life changed for Jesus’ disciples and other followers and for witnesses of his resurrection. Pentecost brought about huge transformations: fear into courage, disbelief into belief, apathy into zeal, and maintenance into mission! Traveling outward into the world of the unfamiliar and sometimes hostile, the disciples set sail to proclaim the Good News to new people and new places. Their lives gave witness to many things, but one in particular became a huge game changer.
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Living Out the Good News

Posted on May 11, 2018 by - Everyday Stewardship

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We are told in Scripture that in the early Church, as the first disciples went about preaching the Good News, their words were confirmed by “accompanying signs.”

Miracles such as healings, prophecies, and the like occurred so that others might see and believe. Jesus’ disciples now continued the ministry that Jesus had begun while he walked the earth in the flesh.
We certainly do believe that miracles still occur in our world, but few of us see amazing healings and works of wonder with our own eyes. We read of a time of frequent miracles, and we wonder what it must have been like to be there during those events. We can easily fall into the trap of seeing biblical times as something far removed from ourselves and in the distant past.
However, in the places we go and to the people we meet in this world, we are the signs. We give testimony to the power of the Good News, and we serve as living examples of God’s work in the world. When others hear about how God has changed your life and they see the evidence of a profound love that many around them do not exhibit, they can find themselves wondering what made you this way.

What made you that way is the power of Jesus Christ and that is as real now as it was 2,000 years ago.

 
–Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

Live in God’s Promise

Posted on May 9, 2018 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Rediscovering NatureFor Sunday, May 13, 2018
The Ascension of the Lord

Acts 1:1-11
Ephesians 1:17-23 or 4:1-13 or 4:1-7, 11-13
Mark 16:15-20

As they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

In her novel, Gilead, Marilyn Robinson shares the story of Rev. John Ames who, looking back on a life of pastoral service, love, loss, faith, and hope, tells his young son:

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Tech Tips: Using Your Online Communications for Divine Communication

Posted on May 3, 2018 by - Catholic Tech Talk, Vibrant Parish Toolkit

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Today throughout the United States, children will gather at assemblies and flagpoles. Clergy and community leaders will come together at breakfasts, luncheons, and prayer services. May 3rd is the National Day of Prayer! The country’s attention turns to the heavens, and prayer is front and center. As a Catholic church, you know it’s your responsibility to keep the focus there long after this day is over. Eyes will drift back to computer screens and smartphones, but the opportunity is not lost! Read on to discover tech tips for using your online communications to promote divine communication!

 

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