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
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
This past week we celebrated All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Today, we honor those whose funeral Masses were celebrated at our parish during the past year with our Memorial Masses for the Deceased. It is a time of year when we are reminded of our Catholic belief in the “Communion of Saints,” which we profess each time we say the creed at Mass.
The church year contains many feast days in which we honor our most famous saints; names we know like St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Teresa of Avila whose feast days were celebrated last month. All Saints’ Day also celebrates saints whose feast days are not on our church calendar, who never made the headlines, but whose lives touched our hearts, made a difference in our lives, and contributed to us becoming the people we are today. We have all known “saints” personally who guided us and inspired us to try to live the Gospel. We are still linked with them through the Body of Christ, and our lives are colored by the virtues they helped instill in us.
As we honor those who have passed on All Souls’ Day, the “Communion of Saints” reminds us that those who have died are still alive, their lives being changed not ended, and linked to us in an important loving relationship with one another. Sr. Elizabeth Johnson says, “Hoping against hope, we affirm that they [our loved ones who have died] have fallen not into nothingness, but into the embrace of the living God. And that is where we can find them again; when we open our hearts to the silent calmness of God’s own life in which we dwell, not by selfishly calling them back to where we are, but by descending into the depth of our own hearts where God also abides.”
Today, as the names of the deceased are called at Mass, remember what qualities he/she had; how he/she lifted my spirits; how he/she made me want to be a better person. As pilgrims still on earth, it is our task to live out the life of Christ with the help of the intersession with our Lord of those who have died and are experiencing the divine presence. May we, the Body of Christ here on Earth, continue the work to bring about the Kingdom by learning to live in communion with one another and all of God’s creation.
All you holy men and women, pray for us!
~ Sherry Watts, K-6 Coordinator
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We all have what musical people refer to as a “chest” voice and a “head” voice. Our chest voice is typically where we sing from to hit the deeper notes on the scale and in our particular vocal range. The head voice is typically where we sing from to hit the higher notes. Our chest voice is stronger, more powerful, but requires the COMMITMENT of more air. Our head voice is airier, less powerful, but SAFE. Our chest voice is where we sing from when we are confident with the words and FEELING IT, singing boldly and strongly WITHOUT FEAR! (Think of singing in the shower when no one else is home.) Our head voice is where we sing from when we must sing softly or safely. There is a time for chest voice singing, and there is a time for head voice singing. The vocal transition between our chest voice and our head voice is called our “break,” so-called because at this point our voices can squeak, crack, or give out altogether, in other words, BREAK! Vocalists must learn where their break is and intentionally work to master the transition from chest to head voice and vice versa.
How do you sing the song that is your life? Do you sing boldly and joyfully in your chest voice like a fearless first grader, or do you retreat into your safe yet weaker head voice? When you encounter a “break” in life, do you fight your way through it and keep singing? Or do you use it as an excuse to quit singing altogether?
Sir Irinaeus famously said: “The glory of God is man fully alive!” Live life in your chest voice! Be not afraid!
~ Rick Smith, Youth Minister