Secret Ambition

Posted on March 15, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

Post by Steve Botsford

Godly AmbitionIn the summer of 1980 I went to stay with my grandparents for six weeks. They had a ten-unit apartment building on the Intracoastal in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, a very prominent area of town.

My plan was to work for my grandfather doing painting, yard work, and basic upkeep. I had calculated the amount of money I would make by working forty hours a week for the entire time and it would give me just enough to purchase a new synthesizer. I was a budding musician and it was an ambitious endeavor to say the least.

My grandparent’s plan was to have an extended visit and help me with some spending cash by paying me to do some chores a few hours a day for the duration. Needless to say, I couldn’t afford the purchase when I returned but left with memories that remain with me today – a much greater reward in hindsight.

I went on after high school to work for my father hanging wallpaper and eventually started my own wallpaper business. When he lost a battle to lung cancer a few years later I was left with a profitable trade-and an appreciation for the gift of music and the time we shared doing both. I was ambitious and successfully remained in that business for nearly ten years until I had an epiphany.

Through a series of events I had a spiritual awakening in my late twenties. Interestingly, I lost my ambition to seek fame and fortune but found a new ambition, sharing the Gospel. You see, my value system was altered and my new ambition was driven by the Holy Spirit.

I remained in youth ministry for ten years, went on to Catholic publishing for eleven years and have just embarked on a journey as a parish DRE. The fruits of my youth ministry can be seen today in many of the youth who became productive citizens driven by Gospel values. A few have become youth ministers or teachers and many are parents raising their children as faithful Catholics while maintaining productive value-driven jobs.

In the Gospel today, we hear of the mother of two of the disciples who also had an ambition. She asked Jesus to seat them at his right and left and he said she didn’t know what she was asking. Is it possible we have ambition without really knowing what we’re after?

The thing is, there are two kinds of ambition, the worldly and the otherworldly. One seeks prominence and the other servitude.

Jesus had a secret ambition. He was to be the King the Jewish people had been waiting for, only they couldn’t easily grasp what that meant. He was to usher in a new Kingdom of love, service and sacrifice.

In spite of two thousand years of faith and tradition, we still struggle today with ambition. As we continue our journey through the season of Lent, let us pause to ponder what is truly meant and implied by our Lord’s secret ambition.

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.

Analog Faith

Posted on February 17, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

A post by Chuck Frost

Record AlbumsI 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.

“Cross” Eyed

Posted on February 16, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

Post by Steve Bostford

Jesus Heals the Blind ManWhen 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.

Press Release: LPi acquires ParishPay

Posted on February 16, 2017 by - 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…)

Hope in the Midst of Division

Posted on February 14, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

A post from Teresa Keogh

Crochet 2Where 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.

CrochetA 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. 

How to Speed Up Your Website

Posted on February 7, 2017 by - Catholic Tech Talk

How Can I Speed Up My Website?Nearly half of people who use the Internet expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Within four seconds, 25% of your website viewers will leave if it doesn’t.

This means, if your website take four or more seconds to load, and there are one hundred people visiting your website, you will lose twenty-five of them. That doesn’t seem like a huge number, but the ones willing to wait the extra time are most likely your existing parishioners, so you just missed out on twenty-five new parishioners.

Here are two things you can do to decrease the amount of time it takes for your website to load, images and all. Best part is, you don’t have to be tech savvy to make these changes.

Optimize your images for Web use

How to Optimize Your ImagesOptimize? That’s a big word. Let’s simplify it. Every file you place on your website is made of megabytes. The Internet reads information in megabytes per second. The goal is to make your image so small that it only uses a tiny fraction of the megabytes that will load in 1-2 seconds.

To do that, save your images in the exact dimensions you will need it to be at a resolution of 72 pixels, or dots, per inch (ppi or dpi).

Each program, app, and software has a different way of doing exactly that. Here are some articles to help you in the program you use:

If you don’t see your program listed here, type “Save for web in [the name of your program]” in the search box on the Internet.

Website CleanupClean up your home page

Just like the images, each bit of information is made up of megabytes. Plus, if you throw too much information at a new visitor on your website, you are going to overload them and scare them away.

In short, remove unnecessary information and shorten long sections to small excerpts.

Rooted in Faith

Posted on February 1, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

“So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith,” (Mark 6:6).

Cross of FaithEvery day we are presented with opportunities to question and think critically. It may be a situation that someone else presents or, in fact, may be something we face directly. Let me explain.

Recently, I read about a long time school principal that pled guilty to embezzlement of school funds. Apparently, he had served flawlessly as an educator for many years, growing in responsibility, and rising in the ranks. In his new role, however, he found himself with access to school funds. Experiencing personal financial hardships, he made the decision to skim money, which led to several years of the same activity.

There are so many lessons here but is it not true that we are all faced with temptations every day? Temptations may vary in penalty but are equally rooted in a lack of faith.

Recently, my 15-year-old daughter woke up late and missed the bus. This is hardly an equal temptation compared with embezzlement, but potentially as poisonous just the same. I questioned her level of responsibility, her ability to take school seriously, and her priorities. I was tempted to make her stay home as a punishment. I then asked a different set of questions. How could I best help her, by punishing her or taking her to school?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Some who heard him asked where he got this knowledge, what kind of wisdom was this, and what great things would come. Others recognized him as the carpenter’s son, son of Mary and identified him as a local. The first set of questions were built on faith yet the second came from doubt and lack of faith.

Perhaps the school principal could have had faith and asked God for help but took the situation into his own hands. Today, let us think critically about the everyday situations we face and identify the questions that are rooted in doubt and ask the ones rooted in faith.

Steve Botsford is a husband, Father, Catechist, Educational Consultant, Blogger, and Game Designer. There’s only one life to live, so let’s live it to the fullest! (John 10:10)

Press Release: LPi Expands Internationally

Posted on January 14, 2017 by - LPi News

NEW BERLIN, WI (PRWEB) JANUARY 14, 2017

Frank Horning accepted a new role of President, Liturgical Publications of Ireland Limited, on January 3, 2017. LPi is excited to announce its expansion internationally and is now actively servicing customers overseas in Europe along with Canada and the Caribbean. Frank has built his career at LPi: first in sales, later as General Manager of several LPi offices, and most recently as Vice President of Operations. Frank’s breadth of experience makes him ideally suited to help expand LPi’s operations internationally.

Ron Nash was named VP of Customer Success on January 9, 2017. In this newly created position, Ron will be responsible for leadership of the full portfolio of products and services across LPi’s customer base. Most importantly, he will lead LPi to proactive customer service that will be instrumental in our customers’ success. Prior to joining LPi, Ron was employed with Noosh, a procurement and product management software company, as the Director of Client Success, managing product implementation, service delivery, and relationship management on a global scale. Prior to his time at Noosh, Ron was employed with Quad Graphics in roles such as VP of Customer Service, VP of Integration Services, and Regional Sales Director. As VP of Customer Service, Ron spent time understanding client needs to better align product selection and offering.

Joe Luedtke has been promoted to (more…)

A Song of Revolution

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

bob-dylan-times-they-are-a-changinThe line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slowest now, will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changin (Bob Dylan)

Revolutions often begin in song.

In the Civil Rights era there were many songs that were anthems of that movement: “We Shall Overcome” – “We Shall Not Be Moved” – “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

In the American Revolution there was “Chester” and in the French Revolution “La Marseillaise.”

Back around AD Year One another, far more important revolution began in song. It was sung by a humble young girl who said yes to news that she would conceive the Son of God. She then hurriedly went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. And when the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy, Mary began to sing:

MagnificatHe has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty, (Luke 1:51-53).”

It is tempting to sentimentalize the Christmas story, but this song is no lullaby. It is a song of revolution, a tune of liberation, and not likely to make it in a Hallmark Christmas card.

Amidst the scramble and stress to get our shopping done in time and prepare our homes for the big day, it is important to keep before us that Advent is the beginning of a world-changing and soul-shaking movement. God has come to earth to show us what love is and how to pull it off. This love is at times a threat to power for it gives preference to those who are oppressed by it – the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, those without shelter, the sick and imprisoned.

So let us sing the Song of Mary, the original version of “The Times They Are A-Changin,” and live the revolution of Advent!

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 ten years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska. After becoming Catholic, Chuck served for nine years as Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, GA. Chuck has a MDiv from Duke Divinity School.

Follow Chuck’s blog at: chuckfrost.wordpress.com

Giving Tuesday 2016—Help Us Help Others

Posted on November 16, 2016 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Giving Tuesday 2016 LogoGiving Tuesday is a global day of generosity and charity celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving that stands in contrast to days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The idea is simple—find a way to give back and share that idea with others on social media.

This Giving Tuesday, November 29, LPi will collect donations for various charities across the country and match each donation, dollar for dollar.

Your $5 donation becomes $10. Your $10 donation becomes $20. And so on.

Here are the organizations we’re supporting this year:

On Giving Tuesday, we will send an email with instructions on how to donate through our website, Facebook, or Twitter page. If you’re not currently on our email list you can sign up here or you can look for the post on our Facebook page.

It doesn’t matter what cause or charity you select, we encourage you to give from your heart to charities across the country or in your own community. Join us on Giving Tuesday to make a bigger difference to those in need.