Coady 12/9/18

Trend pendulums swing back and forth as one generation reacts to the previous one. For the first generation or two after Vatican II, Catholics were grateful for the Mass being in English and for the opportunity to participate fully. Often they vilified the prior time when Mass was in a language they didn’t understand, and they were not allowed to voice the responses to the prayers. They celebrated their new found participation by completely abandoning Latin prayers and music. Gregorian Chant was considered antiquated and useless.

Now, a new generation of Catholics feels the loss of Latin in the liturgy. They point out that Vatican II’s Document on the Liturgy, while mandating translation of the Latin into the Vernacular, also encouraged some honored place for Latin. In European churches, the missalettes contain Latin and Vernacular translations for various Mass parts, such as the Sanctus, the Pater Noster, and the Agnus Dei. The faithful have never forgotten how to pray the Our Father in Latin; so, if the priest intones it in Latin, they pray it in Latin. In the English version of the Roman Missal, it is given in both languages. Here at St. Thomas More, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are chanted in Latin during Lent.

One key thing should be understood, though. The number one goal of the renewed liturgy of Vatican II is this: THE FULL, CONSCIOUS, ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY ALL THE PEOPLE. The Mass is about neither nostalgia nor innovation. It is the timeless encounter between God and humanity. “In it, complete and definitive public worship is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members” (SC 7). That means that it is not the ordained priest’s Mass, but the Mass of all the priests: Christ and all those baptized into his priesthood.

~ Fr. Frank Coady

Smith, R 12/2/18

Are you OVER-thinking church? Catholic author Matthew Kelly claims that many people who no longer go to church didn’t make a profound decision one day to stop going to church…they just got out of the habit. They missed church one weekend due to a busy schedule; they skipped it the next weekend because they didn’t feel like going. The next thing they knew, they had not attended in a long time. They got out of the habit and simply quit going. And they are probably wondering why they feel something is “missing” in their lives.

There is something to be said for just GOING to church, even if we don’t always feel like it, even if our hearts are not always in it, even if we are not always sure if and what we believe. By participating in the liturgy at Mass, we are at least giving ourselves a chance to “catch” some faith. Are we more likely to have a holy experience of Godly community worshipping with others in church or sitting at home distracting ourselves with technology? As Woody Allen said: “80 percent of success in life is just showing up.”

I am personally VERY GUILTY of over-thinking church. I can really get stuck in my own head, philosophical debates, existential meaning of life questions, faith vs proof, etc. Over the years, I have realized that my life is usually better when my family and I are going to church. PERIOD. If we are at church, there is at least a CHANCE that we can “catch” some faith. That Jesus can reach our hearts. That the Holy Spirit can work through the liturgy. That God can transform US into the body of Christ.

I am always quick to admit that God can show up ANYWHERE, not just in a designated building that we call a “church.” (WE are the living church. :) I am also quick to admit that I seem to be MORE READY for God to show up in my life when I am going to church.

In a way, going to church is like exercising or eating. Sometimes we enjoy a vigorous workout or a delicious meal; other times we just have to tough it out or choke it down because we know it is good for us in the long run. The alternative is to quit moving or eating altogether, which results in atrophy, weakness, and ultimately death. The same can be said for our spirits.

Fight the good fight! Go to church! BE NOT AFRAID!

~ Rick Smith, Youth Minister

Watts 11/25/18

The word of the week is “gratitude.” Hopefully, this isn’t just our word of the week, but the way we live our lives. When we are grateful for what we have been given, it helps us to not be afraid, experience less stress, and be more at peace.

We often ask our children in religious education to name what they are thankful for. We hear family, friends, grandparents, pets, teachers, game players, etc. I think most of us would agree with the kids, as we have been gifted with the necessities of life, family, food, clothing, and shelter. But as adults we can teach our children to think deeper. Where does the food on our table come from? Are we thankful to the farmers who grew the vegetables and fruits? How about the baker who made the bread? The poultry farmer who cared for and raised the turkey? The people who drove the truck to bring it to the grocery store? Are we thankful for the clean water that comes from the faucet every time we turn it on? The heat that comes from the furnace every time we turn up the thermostat? Can we stop and be thankful for these “daily miracles” and the people who make our lives so comfortable we take them for granted?

The book we are reading in our book study group, Jesus, An Historical Approximation by Jose A Pagola, talks about the parables. The author explains that Jesus wanted his followers to see God at work in everyday miracles. A paragraph from the book says: “Jesus showed them the Galilean fields: while they were walking along the paths without seeing anything special, something was happening in the soil, the seeds were being transformed into a beautiful harvest. The same thing was happening at home. Daily life went on as usual, but something was secretly happening in the bread dough the women mixed every morning; soon the whole loaf would rise. That’s the way the reign of God works. Its saving power was already at work in their lives, mysteriously transforming everything. Can life really be like that? Is God quietly acting in the inner core of our own lives? Is that the ultimate secret of life?”

Faith that God is growing my life within the modest activity of every day fills me with hope and gratitude. During this beautiful season, may all of us be grateful for the many miracles God places in our midst each day.

~ Sherry Watts, K-6 Coordinator

Smith, K 11/18/18

In this month of November, we continue to remember the dead. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we give thanks for the blessing of our deceased loved ones and friends. Even though they have been gathered into the heavenly harvest, they are fully alive in the presence of God, and we meet them there in the depths of our hearts. We remember their strengths and weaknesses and honor them by living holy lives.

At every Mass, we will continue to remember these holy men and women during the Eucharistic Prayer. The central focus of this part of the Mass is thanksgiving. (The word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving!”) In this prayer, we give God thanks and praise for Jesus and for Jesus’ saving deeds. We ask God that the abundance promised at this holy table may be shared with the whole world, with all who seek God, even with the dead.

Eucharist (thanksgiving!) is what our life as Christians is all about. In suffering or in joy, in confusion or routine, our life is always to be praise, always to be thanksgiving, always to be a sharing of God’s abundances with those in need.

We pray this week for the safety of all those traveling; for families reunited on this holiday; for opportunities to open for those less fortunate than ourselves: for the elderly and those in need; and for those who may be spending the holiday alone. We pray that all may experience the closeness of God.

May we all share our own blessings in gratitude and may the sacrifice of Jesus draw us closer to all our brothers and sisters in the human family. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

~ Kelley Smith, Music Liturgist

Talbot 11/11/18

We are moving toward the season where people really think about those in need. It is extraordinary to witness people’s generosity and open hearts. There are so many ways to consider being involved, and I will mention just a few things that our parish is involved in.

First, packing Thanksgiving boxes at the Breadbasket. The Knights of Columbus have been a part of this for several years. The weekend before Thanksgiving, on a Sunday, they join other volunteers at the Breadbasket to put together some food boxes for the needy of our community. The boxes are delivered to families on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The Breadbasket does this again before Christmas. In addition, Old Chicago hosts a community Thanksgiving dinner that is for anyone who wants to go. You can get involved by calling Old Chicago or the Breadbasket. Our former pastor, Fr. Don, used to help with that.

The Jesse Tree has been another avenue of generosity. Mrs. Sherry Watts, our outgoing K-6 Coordinator whom we will miss dearly, leads the effort for this project. You can pick an individual from the tree and provide gifts from the suggestions on the leaf or ornament. Many of these families would not have gifts for their families otherwise. I am amazed every year at how much comes in! Sherry puts in an amazing amount of work to organize the gifts and make sure they end up at the right place.

Finally, I want to mention the community Christmas dinner hosted at Peace Lutheran. We have been a partner with them for the last few years by providing the meat, a few volunteers, and the necessary kitchen appliances to warm up the food. I know there are several parishioners that have helped with this as it provides a warm meal for families who otherwise may do without. Christmas is such a family centered holiday, but for some it is a reminder of what they don’t have. This meal provides an opportunity to give them just a taste of good food and family time.

The whole point is to remind ourselves of the many blessings we have. Many in our own community don’t have the things we take for granted. Our church tries to be a part of the solution to reach out to these folks. I have mentioned just a few things, but I know there are many other opportunities. Let us be ever grateful to our God who gives generously to us and asks us to do the same for one another.

~ Dcn Wayne Talbot

New K-6 Coordinator

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