Working in a parish offers me the privilege of walking side by side with some of the most heroic and faithful people I have encountered. These people do not have a platform or a pulpit. They are those who in the midst of tragedy, pain, and the hard daily grind of providing for their family, persevere in faith and give more than they receive.
My oldest son was having a tougher time than expected in his first year of college. In high school he expected to get As and be one of the smarter kids in the class. Now, he was at a school where everyone came from a similar experience in high school, and he found himself pretty darn average. His mother and I urged him early on to seek some help from a tutor. He gasped. When he was in high school, he WAS the tutor. After some reflection he said, “I just like to do things on my own.”
So often many of us are like that. We find it hard to accept help. We think maybe it says something about our lack of capability or skill to reach out for help. When help is offered to us, we can quickly respond, “No thanks, I’m fine.” It is amazing how sometimes we are anything but fine.
Living a stewardship way of life as a committed disciple of Jesus is not easy. In fact, we are guaranteed to fail. That inevitable failure is called sin. Grace makes it possible for us to continue on the journey. On that first Pentecost, the first followers of Jesus received the Holy Spirit who would guide them. For over two thousand years, that same Spirit has moved in us and guided us. Help for the journey is always available. Sin and temptation constantly seek to impede our steps. But through the gifts of this Spirit we can discern and make wise judgments, lessening the toll life can exact on us. Reach out and take the hand of God; allow his Spirit to lead you and guide you. Don’t look back after making the journey harder than it used to be and say, “I just liked doing things on my own.” You are never alone.
Living a stewardship way of life as a committed disciple of Jesus is not easy. In fact, we are guaranteed to fail. That inevitable failure is called sin. Grace makes it possible for us to continue on the journey.
On that first Pentecost, the first followers of Jesus received the Holy Spirit who would guide them. For over 2000 years, that same Spirit moves in us and guides us
There will always be challenges in our lives and in the world. When life is messy it is easy to ask “What is God waiting for?” Maybe we should not question God on his ability to save us from our problems.
What if we embraced challenges as another opportunity to let go and trust in God’s plan for us?
When I was around the age of six, my good friend Max moved away. I had known him for fewer than two years, but I was so fond of him that his moving away really hurt. I was living in Northern Virginia and he was moving to Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh might as well have been in another country. I knew it was far and that was the end of this relationship. I woke up in the middle of the night after he had left that day, crying and yelling. My mother’s arms tried to comfort me as well as they could. But this was real pain, even for a six-year-old. It was love.
The First Letter of St. John states, “Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us.” I do not want to make too bold a statement or reduce John’s words to simple sentiment, but I think the love I felt that night when I was six was pretty close to the perfected love mentioned in the passage. A child, so innocent and still untouched by the cynicism and apathy of an adult world, experienced something so deep and hard to understand that I am certain my mother classified it as immature emotions that would quickly fade away. As adults, we think that all the time. Yet forty years later, I still vividly remember it. I cannot remember Max’s last name or visualize his face, but I can still recall the feelings and emotions of that event.
What if we tried harder to take John’s words to heart and love more people as a child loves a true friend? John tells us that in that love God is present. That night when I was six I may have lost a friend, but I think I found God.
There is a great need in our current world for more Jesus sightings. You used to hear about Elvis sightings from time to time, but we do not need sightings of the King of Rock n Roll. We need sightings of the King of Kings.
Do you remember being a child and deciding on captains to choose sides for a game of kickball, soccer, or other sport requiring little more than a ball? Kids sat on a curb, waiting to hear their fate. “Surely, I will not be picked last,” each boy or girl thought. But alas, someone always had to be last.
Since 2013, Pope Francis has captivated the world with his remarkable display of discipleship. And just when we think we’ve got him figured out, he surprises us again! “Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God,” were his words to the students at Santo Tomàs University in Manila, Philippines during his January pastoral visit – words he clearly lives by.
People say your kids are grown up and out of the house before you know it. Some say it’s like the blink of an eye. In some ways that is true, although any parent can agree that some years seem longer than others! (Some of those teen years can seem really long!)
But the point is there is a limited window of opportunity to help God mold and shape your children into the adults they will become.
This is the first of 3 documents from The Notre Dame Institute for Church Life that provide important information for shaping the message of what we are offering in a Sustainable Offertory Campaign. A quote from the first document:
“Our results suggest that the American Catholic giving gap is, in part, a direct result of congregational culture: Catholic parishes are less likely to nurture participatory cultures compared to other Christian congregations. Parishioners are also more likely to focus on giving as “paying the bills” rather than “living the vision” when thinking of money. Because many Catholics are more concerned with “paying the bills,” they lack spiritual engagement with money—the belief that proper stewardship of money is a deeply spiritual matter— which further reduces Catholic financial giving.”
We will be providing parishes with proper stewardship of money formation and working to change their parishioners’ vision of engagement.