I was blessed to attend a conference sponsored by Catholic Charities USA on how to respond to disasters. One of the Seven Dolors’ Knights brought it to our attention a couple of months ago, so Deacon Buzz and I went to Colorado Springs last week. There were six people that went from our diocese, including the Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities, Michelle Martin.
There have been a few events in our diocese, including the flood in Manhattan, that have sparked an interest in better serving the survivors of these events. We, as a Catholic community, did well to provide some financial resources to folks. Having a Catholic presence during these difficult times speaks to a very important part of our mission to help be a part of rebuilding people’s lives and providing hope. There are so many generous agencies and people that do provide for these needs, and many do work together to offer better service. Catholic Charities is a valuable part of that process with services such as: immediate needs assessments, ongoing counseling, case management, and more.
We heard many stories where people’s situations seemed hopeless after their devastating experiences, but Catholic Charities and other agencies offered a pathway that gave them the opportunity to rebuild and dream. The volunteers were truly the hands and feet of Christ.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have some folks who could respond to people’s feelings of desperation and hopelessness in our diocese? With the limited resources of people and goods, our diocesan Catholic Charities does so much already, but maybe there is more that could be done! What I learned is that there are many generous people working in the trenches for these survivors who do not even give a second thought to what they do. With so much negative news surrounding these kinds of situations, I know it renews my faith to witness such strength and resolve to help our neighbors in need. I guess we never know when any one of us will be in a similar situation and need others to provide a glimmer of hope in what seems to be the darkest of times.
~ Dcn Wayne Talbot
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
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
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