“He Has Cast Down the Mighty From Their Thrones”

Posted on November 1, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: “He Has Cast Down the Mighty From Their Thrones”For Sunday, November 05, 2017
31st Sunday of Ordinary Time

Malachi 1:14B-2:2B, 8-10
1 Thessalonians 2:7B-9, 13
Matthew 23:1-12

These words may be familiar to you. We hear them in Mary’s Magnificat, as she sings the praises of God, who acts in a way counterintuitive to the plans of the world. They aren’t in this Sunday’s readings, but they perfectly capture the theme of the Gospel and the latest stream of current events.

In the era of the 24 hour news cycle, it seems like anyone and anything are up for grabs. As much as we thrive on thrusting people into the limelight, we seem to be equally—if not more so, fascinated by their demise. Entertainment icons Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey have received just opprobrium. Former strategists for President Trump have been indicted for pre-campaign white-collar crime. And who can miss the ongoing controversy in the NFL? These events raise the age-old questions: “what does it mean to have power?” and “how do we exercise it with integrity?”

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Tech Innovation for World Mission Sunday

Posted on October 12, 2017 by - Catholic Tech Talk

world mission

 

When you picture world missions, what do you imagine? Most of us might think of a remote village, building projects, and catechism lessons in one-room schoolhouses. Modern American life is disconnected on multiple levels from the everyday life of a foreign missionary. This World Mission Month, the team at Missio is trying to bridge that gap in an innovative way: a Papal ChatBot.

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Gifts on God’s Terms

Posted on October 11, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Gifts on God’s TermsFor Sunday, October 15, 2017
28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 25:6-10a
Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Matthew 22:1-14

Wedding registries. Christmas lists. Return policies. Gift cards. No one can deny that these modern conveniences make our lives easier. What do they all have in common? Personal preference. In each of these things, we have a say over the gift we receive. It’s something to which we’ve become accustomed. But does God work that way?

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Five Ways to Pray the Rosary Better

Posted on October 7, 2017 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

rosary

 

Did you know October is the month of the rosary? Whether you grew up praying a family rosary every night or still struggle to remember the words to the Apostles Creed, there are always ways to grow. Here are a few practical ways for you and your parish to make the most of this powerful prayer.

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Stewards of Our Sufferings

Posted on September 14, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

suffering

“So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure.” – St. Andrew of Crete

This is complicated, isn’t it? Today crosses come in all shapes, sizes, and functions. You can find them encrusted with diamonds around the necks of celebrities. You can find them in stylized wall hangings, set in craft stores alongside distressed wood signs advising us to “Live – Laugh – Love.” St. Andrew of Crete lived in the seventh century. For St. Andrew, the cross would have retained its original, terrible value as a method of execution. Here we come to the great paradox of Christianity: a method of death as a means to life, a “treasure,” and cause of triumph.

Today’s feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, reminds us that we’re not only stewards of our gifts. We’re also stewards of our sufferings.

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Hope and Healing in the Aftermath

Posted on September 13, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Hope and Healing in the AftermathFor Sunday, September 17, 2017
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:30—28:7
Romans 14:7-9
Matthew 18:21-35

These past few weeks, the United States has been battered by events of cataclysmic proportions. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the Equifax data breach have shoved tit-for-tat political headlines out of the limelight. Compelling, community-driven stories abound, whether it’s the quirky tenacity of Key West residents, a moving letter from the mayor of New Orleans, or Beyoncé volunteering in her hometown.

For those of us without connections to the South, the events could seem distant, and beyond the sphere of immediate concern, a matter of sympathetic thoughts, $20 donations, and passing prayers. For residents, however, the aftermath can stretch far into the future.

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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.

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Silence in the Storm

Posted on August 9, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: Silence in the StormFor Sunday, August 13, 2017
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever heard five hundred teenagers singing? As a music minister, it’s not always easy to pull off. When I worked in a Catholic high school, there was one song that nearly everybody always sang, whether it was in the Mass, on retreat, or at a prayer service: “Oceans” by Hillsong, the music ministry of an Australian evangelical church. Here are some lines of the refrain: “And I will call upon Your name. Keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise.”

I spent a lot of time considering why this song roused an instinctive response in so many students, regardless of grade, race, and social clique. In many ways, I think this simple song reflects the cry of the human heart. We all, at times, feel storm-tossed and unconsoled. The song isn’t just about our effort to reach out to Christ, but the steadfast presence of God as we brave the unknown.

I don’t know the history of the song, but I have no doubt it was at least somewhat inspired by today’s Gospel. Jesus has spent time alone, consoled in his weariness by the presence of his Father, and he returns to his friends by night, supernaturally walking on the waves of a stormy sea. Peter, in a classic display of bold faith, trusts that if the figure really is Jesus, than he too can walk on the water. His Lord will do the miraculous, keep him from sinking. (more…)

The Kingdom of God in Our Midst

Posted on July 26, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

Connect! Sunday Reflection: The Kingdom of God in Our MidstFor Sunday, July 30, 2017
17th Sunday Ordinary Time

This Sunday’s Gospel can seem obvious, even cliché. We’ve heard the stories before. Man roaming in field finds treasure, sells everything, buys field. Merchant finds pricey pearl, sells everything, buys pearl. “God is worth it!” we hear loud and clear. But this Gospel presupposes something that, to be frank, I don’t think is always presupposed. These people were actually looking for something.

Consider the man in the field. He’s taking time away from tasks to wander a patch of open land. Consider the merchant. He knows what he’s looking for and he’s thrilled to discover it. I wonder, if we’re confronted with the kingdom of God in our midst, will we know it when we see it? Have we given ourselves the mental and emotional space to search? (more…)