Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ordinary Time 30

This week we celebrate two important feasts: All Saints - November 1st and All Souls - November 2nd.  These feasts celebrate our Christian belief in life after death.  A tradition in many cultures is the home altar.  The altar is usually a small table placed in the family room on which is placed a statue or picture of Jesus, Mary or other favorite saints.  A candle can be lit to signify presence and prayer.  Pictures of deceased family members can also be placed on the altar with memories shared about them with the children.  Another tradition during this month of November is to visit the graves of loved ones, perhaps cleaning the markers and leaving behind some flowers.  Children should see that cemeteries and graves are cared for as a sign of respect not only for the deceased, but also to the bereaved and the descendants who visit.

A Prayer at the Graveside
Lord Jesus Christ, by your own three days in the tomb, you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies.  Grant that our brother/sister, N. may sleep here in peace until you awaken him/her to glory, for you are the resurrection and the life.  Then he/she will see you face to face and in your light will see and know the splendor of God, for you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ordinary Time 29

What does it mean to be humble in today's world? Mother Teresa famously said, "When you don't have anything, then you have everything." We hear so much about the need to be in charge of our lives, to stand up for what we believe in, to take personal responsibility. In some ways, that was what Jesus was asking of James and John. They were to take charge of their lives and not look for personal favors to get them ahead. That's where humility comes in. It is recognizing that life is not a struggle about getting ahead of everyone else. Rather, it is about taking the measure of ourselves and striving to do our best with what God has given us.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ordinary Time 28

I survived the festival and I am back to my regular sleep schedule.  Before the festival, I was able to travel to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary for their priest reunion/homecoming and celebrate my twenty-five anniversary with several of my classmates.  It was good to see them; one I hadn't seen since we left the seminary.  We shared stories of our ministry and how our priesthood is going.  We all agreed it takes a lot to really follow Jesus and to lead his people closer to him.
Jesus wants us all to follow him and he is inviting each of us to follow him.  In today's Gospel story, Jesus looked at the rich man and loved him and then invited him to follow.  It is no less for us.  Jesus loves us all, and invites us to follow him by remembering the poor.  Indeed, he even promises us that as we give up wealth and possessions for the sake of the kingdom, we will be blessed even more.  Remember to help someone today!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ordinary Time 27

Thanks to all who helped make our parish Nationality Festival a great success, especially the dedicated workers who worked in the booths, the children's games, entertainment, sponsors, setter-uppers, cleaner-uppers, tear-downers and most of all to God for providing us this opportunity to work together. A big thanks also goes to Dan Trocchio for chairing our festival.  Everyone working together is what makes our parish festival so great.  Thank you for all you do for the parish! Dziekuje! Merci beaucoup! Gracias! Danka!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ordinary Time 26

As humans we are capable of both good and evil.  Our Gospel this weekend makes it clear that any good is of God, no matter who is doing it.  The fact that others not of our faith may be doing good things in the world should spur us on to even greater acts of charity and love.  After all, we follow Jesus, who gave everything for us.  But when we do evil, the greater is our sin, because our wicked example becomes a stumbling block to those who might want to draw closer to Jesus.  The way we live can be for good or ill.

Did you hear it is Festival time!  The perogies have been pinched; the shells have been stuffed; the raffle tickets are incoming; there are some new kid's games; and even Elvis is going to make his last apprearance.  Aren't you excited?  This is a great time for the parish to come together, work together, have some fun, and celebrate a long tradition of our parish.  Come out to eat, to work, to meet old friends and to make this a very successful festival.  See you there!

Ordinary Time 25

Following Christ is more than just having the right beliefs and knowing the truths of the faith.  As this weekend's Gospel relates, to be a follower of Christ one must be a servant of all.  Consider how we might act throughout the day if the foremost thought in our minds was to be a servant.  What would be different about how you interact with others if you placed yourself in the role of being their servant?  As a Christian, a hallmark of our faith is the way we love others.  Being a servant to all is a concrete expression of that love.

Ordinary Time 24

In the Gospel this weekend Jesus tells the crowd and his disciples that if they want to follow him, they must deny themselves and take up the cross.  In the early days of the Church, when the first believers were persecuted, cast out of the synagogues, and martyred for their faith, these words of Jesus had a very concrete meaning.  For many early Christians, accepting the cross meant suffering and death.  But what can it mean for us in the world today?  What is the hardest part about being a Christian in today's world for you?  That is the cross to embrace.

Ordinary Time 23

An often overlooked aspect of the healing story in this weekend's Gospel is that other people brought the deaf man to Jesus.  Like some other healing miracles, this on occurs not because of the sick person's initiative, but because others were there to bring the person to Jesus' attention.  We may not often think of the role that we play in healing.  One of the corporal works of mercy is to visit the sick and including them in our prayers has always been an important aspect of our faith.  We may not be bringing deaf people to Jesus to have him cure them, but we can pray for all the sick and ask God to give them strength.

Ordinary Time 22

Did you know that in Texas it is illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow?  It is against the law in Kansas to catch fish with your bare hands.  In the state of Washington, it's illegal to catch a fish by throwing a rock at it.  In Nagales, Arizona, it is illegal to wear suspenders.  In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.  It is against the law to hunt whale in Oklahoma.

Rules, statutes, and commandments help us live in a society.  We recognize that these limits on freedom make it possible for us to develop a community that can serve the common good.  And yet not every law carries equal weight.

In today's Gospel Jesus points out that God's laws take precedence over human rules.  God's laws are not just directed at forming external behavior.  God's laws were given to us so that we could live as God intended us to live.  As Jesus makes clear, it is one's internal attitude that can be in need of improvement.  What puts us into a healthy, life-giving relationship with God is when we treat our fellow men and women with kindness, consideration, respect, compassion and love.  It is when we maryy our inner convictions, the values we cherish, with our actions.  Ultimately, the commandments of the Lord require a change of heart!