There is a story back in the 1600s about when a group of early settlers had the first meeting with the Native Americans, there was an exchange of gifts made. The settlers gave their goods to the Native Americans and the Native Americans gave a peace pipe to the settlers. The two groups agreed to meet again some time later and both went their separate ways. Some months later, the two groups met again. To show their gratitude, the settlers made sure that they brought along the peace pipe. The Native Americans, noticing the peace pipe, were dismayed and requested that the peace pipe be returned. Certainly confused, the settlers returned the peace pipe, the two groups departed and never met again. What the settlers did not know, was that in the Native American culture, they lived by an understanding that gifts were only given to with the understanding that they would continue to be given. In their words, a gift must be kept in motion. The gift was not to pass “to” you, but rather, all gifts should pass “through” you. And this is very much in union with the Catholic understanding of stewardship.
As we continue our stewardship campaign, we are called to look at our very lives in a different way. We are reminded to look at all that exists with a different vision, the vision of faith. For when God looks at all that he created, he did not give it to us to so that we could simply hold on to the gifts. Rather, he gave us the gift of all creation so that it could be handed on. Look in Genesis: “God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food...” (Gen 1:29). Notice that God gave to the humans the “seed-bearing” plants. While certainly, God gave all creation, the seed-bearing plants are emphasized. By highlighting the seeds, God is pointing out the importance of those seeds being planted, those seed being “handed on” to the future generations, those seed being given to the ground so that so much more can grow! Those seeds are not meant to be held onto, but meant to keep on being given. If Adam and Eve hold on to those seeds, there will be no more growth, no future plants, no future sustenance...and what happens? The end.
When we look at stewardship of all that we have, including our treasure, we must see it with the eyes of God. When we contemplate our treasure, our financial means, we must work to view it as God does. God sees them as a part of the great gift of creation. A gift that was not meant to end with us, but a gift that was meant to pass through us for the good of us as well as others.
May God bless all of you!
In the beginning, was God. There was nothing other than God, and then God chose to create. God created everything; from the physical universe to the science that governs it. God created the animals that wander the planet, the plants that grow and the humans who reap the harvest. All has been created by God. And it is in recognizing this truth where we find the origins of stewardship.
Stewardship begins by acknowledging the fact that everything we have, our resources, our talents, our very life itself has been given to us without our earning it. Yes, we apply many of the gifts, but at their origins, everything is a gift. Think back to your upbringing: You were given life and consciousness without having earned it. You were then given a family who took care of you without any labor on your part. You were clothed and fed, you were educated and loved, simply because you existed. It was all gift. If we see this for what it is, we discover that everything is a gift. And when we have this recognition, we change how we use the gifts. We are merely stewards (or caretakers) of all that is given to us. It becomes our duty to turn to the source of all these gifts, namely God, to discover how we ought to use the gifts.
This is how we, as Catholics, approach the stewardship of all of our gifts. We first acknowledge that everything is a gift and then we turn to God in prayer to gain the wisdom to know how we should steward these many gifts. It is an ongoing conversation with God.
An analogy might be a teenager who receives his driver’s license. The use of the car is a gift to him and initially, his parents will allow him to use the car only a short distance; avoiding the freeway (especially 494 and 35W!). Then, he consults with his parents after successful driving and he is allowed to use the car on the freeway. He consults with his parents again and now he is required to go to the store to purchase food before he uses the car to visit his friends. Then later, he may be required to fill the car with gasoline (using his own money!). But it is always an ongoing conversation with his parents as to what is the proper way to use the gift of the car. And we should do this in prayer with our Father in heaven as we discern how we are to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us: Our time, our talent and our treasure.
This weekend, we begin our stewardship campaign. In consultation with the Stewardship Council of Nativity of Mary, we are approaching our stewardship campaign in a different way, but with the similar intent: To help all of us live out stewardship as a part of our Catholic faith. We will be separating the “treasure” portion from our “time and talent” portion, which will take place in January. Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing about the importance of stewardship of our treasure, the blessings that come from being a good steward of our finances, and how we can contribute to the financial health of our parish.
I invite you to be open and prayerful to a life of stewardship. First, recognize that all is a gift from God and then recognize that God is a loving Father who desires to help you use his gifts well for your good, the good of our parish and the good of the whole world. May God bless you all.
If you could ask God just one question, what would it be? (Yes, I am quoting Joan Osbourn). However, this lyrical line came to mind as I read the Gospel for this week. We see the Apostles following Jesus for three years. They must have had many opportunities to ask questions of him. Even a few of those questions are recorded in the Gospels. However, today, we hear that they were afraid to question him. Why would this be? What would cause them to be afraid to inquire? Certainly, it would be beneficial to understand what the Messiah is saying, so why be afraid.
What is important to note, is what Jesus said, right before the comment about their fear. Mark writes, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” (Mark 9:30-31). Their fear arises from the demands of being a follower of Jesus. They were not afraid to ask the question...they were afraid of the response that they would receive, namely that to follow Jesus would require sacrifice.
They had been following Jesus and had seen some miraculous cures; they heard some beautiful teachings of mercy, which are all very comfortable and pleasant. They liked that, but then Jesus speaks about suffering and death. Now, all of the sudden, there was a part of Jesus’ mission and work that made them uncomfortable. As a result, they were inclined to “hide” from that portion of Jesus, desiring not to speak about it or understand it further. They may have been hoping that it would even go away if they never inquired...and how many times do we choose the same approach to Jesus.
We do enjoy the statements about mercy. We delight in the offer of an eternal happiness. We delight in the resurrection, though we often desire to hide from the crucifixion. We try to have Jesus without the cross. Though, as Jesus stated today in the Gospel, this is his whole mission and if we desire to follow him, we must accept the entire Jesus. We must seek to know and embrace Jesus in his life, his death and his resurrection. We need not fear, as the disciples did, to go deeper into the mystery of his suffering, for it is in his suffering where we find the mercy and the love that God truly has for each of us. And even, we will be called to follow Jesus through our own trials, our own sufferings. Though, if we choose to follow Jesus through the sufferings, it is there where we discover the glory of the resurrection. It is in the resurrection that we discover the meaning of the suffering, and even our own sufferings.
In your prayer, do not be afraid to speak to Jesus and ask him the questions that are longing in your heart. Be ready to listen to his response, to what he shares with you. I know that in my own personal prayer, I rarely receive the message that I desired. I am often tempted to go into prayer with a list of demands that he must meet, with results that I am convinced (at the time) would be best and must occur. And all that I discover, is that his response to my prayer is one that is different...and better for me, than what I originally expected. Because Jesus knows what is truly good, even though it is not the easy response...but that is why he is God and we can trust him. In your prayer, do not be afraid to question God about any of your trails or his teachings. And then be open to the totality of his response because his response will always be a response of love for us. In your prayer, do not be afraid to question God about any of your trials or his teachings. And then be open to the totality of his response because his response will always be a response of love for us.
A few years back I had the opportunity to go on a retreat that was a silent retreat. We had been on silent retreats in seminary before, and I expected this silent retreat to be similar. In seminary, our retreats allowed us time to read novels for fun, to listen to some talks and even a little social time while eating by making faces at each other. This silent retreat, however, was different.
When I arrived at the retreat house, my spiritual director met me there and informed me that I would be the only person staying there for the entire week. Even he would be returning to his parish and would stop out once a day for spiritual direction. He also informed me that I would not be allowed to listen to any music or recordings, that I was not to have any literature other than the Bible, my brieverary and one spiritual book (that he assigned). He informed me that this was to be a full-silent retreat.
I confess that my first reaction was to panic. As you have probably already noticed, I am an extrovert and I perceived this approach to a silent retreat as being a form of torture. However, I was convinced that God wanted me on this retreat, and as a consequence I decided that I would try to embrace this new form of silence...and what I discovered, was that it was just what I needed. It was a silence of my very person: mouth, mind, body, and most especially, my soul.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) says the Psalmist, and that is exactly what I needed in my heart. Too often, I am one who enters into prayer and even without intention, I begin reviewing all of the things that are on my mind. I will begin by trying to pay attention to God and his love for me, but my mind will be so filled with ideas and activities, that I will begin planning or reviewing, rather than entering in a place of “stillness.” It is in that stillness of the mind and soul, where we are able to discover one of the greatest truths about our God, that God simply wants to love us. We need to create that time for silence where God can simply love us.
The first place we need to seek out this stillness and silence is at the beginning of prayer. Before you pray at any time, pause for a moment and realize that you are looking to God, but He has always been looking at you first. Take some time at the beginning of the morning or at the end of the day when the children are asleep to find the time of silence to realize God’s love for you. If you are able, make a silent retreat, even if it is just for a day at one of the retreat centers here in the Twin Cities.
We are active creatures and our minds and hearts are filled with many worries, thoughts and ideas. Let us not allow these to keep us from the stillness that we also need to allow ourselves to be loved by God.
The beginning of the new school year was always exciting for me as a child. Yes, there were the usual concerns about having the correct supplies for class, concerns that my clothing was not the “cool” clothing for the school year (see the Bugs and Taz shirts dressed as Kriss Kross from the 90s), and wondering if I would get lost in the hallways on my way to class. But underneath all of those concerns was always an excitement. I would not admit this to my friends, but my excitement was really centered around the fact that I would be learning something new! I enjoyed my science classes where we learned about the world around us. I delighted in history where we discovered amazing events in human history and learned from them. I enjoyed English and creative writing. I really enjoyed all of it! And I see that happening again and again every year as the students return to school. And this should the be attitude that we have as adults with our entire lives, especially with our life of faith.
I will often hear people make the comment, “They never taught me about that when I was in Catholic schools or in Religious Education!” when they discover a long held belief of the Church or some other teaching that they did not know. The assumption is that everything should have been taught to us by the time that we received the sacrament of Confirmation. While it is true that our Catholic school teachers and our religious education catechists worked hard to teach us about our Catholic faith, it is possible that they missed some particulars or (dare I say), we were not paying close attention. As a result, we did not retain some of the truths taught about our faith. It is when we discover this reality that we must embrace that desire to learn and seek out to discover the truths of our faith on our own.
Thankfully, we live in the 21st century where there are more resources to learn about our faith than any prior generation of Catholics. Some of the great resources that we have at our fingertips are the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the writings and teachings of the Church as found at www.vatican.va, the books from quality Catholic publishing companies, the good Catholic book stores that we have in the Twin Cities, the Lightous Catholic Media CDs that can be ordered, and the different programs and offerings that we have right here in our very own parish! We have been hardwired from God to learn and discover the world that God created and ultimately to discover God himself. As we see the children returning to school this week with the desire to learn, let us reignite that same desire in our hearts to learn more about our Catholic faith so that we might love God and our neighbor all the more. May God bless you and your pursuit of learning his truth this week.
In my life, there were many people who played a role in handing on the Catholic faith to me. I had catechists on Wednesday evenings, I had college friends who lived their faith well, I met some good and holy priests. All of these had a role to play in my faith life, however, none were greater than my very own parents.
It was their work as parents that planted the seed of the faith in my heart that were of such importance. One way they shared the faith was through their witness of the faith through attending mass faithfully every weekend (and staying until the final verse, thus preventing me from getting the “good” donuts with the sprinkles). However, it was also through the conversations that we had as a family. I recall after mass that my parents would often “review” the homily with us in the car ride home. Also, my mother would teach me how to pray the rosary. My dad, raised Lutheran, would help me memorize Bible verses for religious education classes or review my homework from class. All of this has helped me to realize what the Church has taught from the very beginning: Parents are the primary teachers of the faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church quotes Blessed Pope Paul VI about parents and their role as saying, “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” and that the right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (CCC 2221).
It is with this experience and teaching in mind that we will be implementing a new style of faith formation at Nativity of Mary. It will be called Family Catechesis. The idea behind this new way will be to help the family learn together as well as equip the parents to share the faith with their children. Often, parents can feel intimidated by the idea of sharing their faith with their children and this style of program works to not only alleviate that fear but to also equip the parents to plant seeds in the hearts of their children, and what we discover is that when we share with others, we inevitably learn as well...and this is the heart of catechesis.
But what do we mean by catechesis? Catechesis is a Greek word that means "echoing." The practical application of this word tells us that not only do we grow in faith by receiving information to one another, we do so by sharing our faith with one another.
Family catechesis refers to a program which involves children from preschool through those in eighth grade, with at least one parent or grandparent attending religious education sessions together with the children.
Intergenerational means mixing generations, including preschool children, elementary and intermediate-age children, preteens and teens, parents and/or grandparents; other adults in the parish can participate as well.
As we announced in last week's bulletin, we will be running a new religious education program this fall using this model. Families will meet twice a month. One meeting will take place on Wednesday night from 6:30 - 8:00 PM, the other from 9:00 - 10:20 AM before 10:30 Mass. Each meeting has a different purpose.
On Wednesday night, families start together. After prayer and an introduction into the evening's topic, the children will go with a trained catechist for their lesson while the parents learn more about the topic at an adult level as well as receive support to pass this knowledge on to their children and more deeply live out their faith life at home.
Special Sundays are program days where the family works together as a unit along with other families on some service project or social activity with the intent to serve our community or build deeper relationships with Christ in our families and community.
In the past, many churches had bell towers and the bells would ring every day before mass as well as at 6am, noon and 6pm. The ringing of the bells at these specific times was a reminder to all the people in the town to stop and pray the prayer called “The Angelus.” It is a short prayer that people could pray together, one leading and the others responding or it could be prayed all together.
The purpose of this action was to pause three times a day to remember the Incarnation which recalls when God became incarnate. This helps us to remember that God is very close to us throughout our lives, so much so, that he became one of us. It also would force us to pause as a family, as a group, as a Church and focus our minds on the greatest of goods that we have, namely, God.
The Angelus prayer can be prayed anytime throughout the day and so I would encourage all of you to pray this simple prayer three times throughout the day as a family to sanctify your day.
LEADER: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
GROUP: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
ALL: Hail Mary, full of grace...
LEADER: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
GROUP: Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
ALL: Hail Mary, full of grace...
LEADER (all genuflect or bow at this verse): And the Word was made flesh,
GROUP: And dwelt among us. (all stand up)
ALL: Hail Mary, full of grace...
LEADER: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
GROUP: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LEADER: Let us pray,
ALL: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
You may have heard of the term “Examination of Conscience” as a preparation for going to confession. There is another form of the Examination of Conscience that can help our spiritual life. That is to do a shorter form of the examination of conscience at the end of each day. This becomes a spiritual tool to help us all review our day and do better the next. You can follow a simple formula before you say your night prays.
First, recall all of the blessings you received that day. We all have good days and bad days, but regardless of how the day went, God has always been giving us his love and blessings. It is important to recall how God was present and working in our lives each day.
Second, recall all of our sins from that day. None of us are perfect, and we should want to be better. As a result, we should recall our sins from the day and then create a plan as to how we will avoid those sins the next day. If we recall any mortal sins, we should make preparation to attend the sacrament of Confession.
Third, pick one way you will live out God’s call to love God and neighbor tomorrow. Make a resolution with the Holy Spirit to love better the next day. We can always do better and God wants us to be better. So with the grace of God, we can always get better: make that resolution.
By a daily examination of conscience that only takes a few minutes, we can continue to grow in holiness as Catholics. God bless you all.
In our Catholic faith, we are required to attend mass every weekend. However, these are not the only days that we are obliged to attend mass. We also have various days that are not on a weekend which we call “Holy Days of Obligation.” These are days of such great importance in our Catholic faith, that all of the faithful gather together in the greatest celebration: The celebration of the Eucharist (AKA holy mass).
A Holy Day of Obligation does not take the place of a Sunday mass, but rather, we attend mass on weekends AND the Holy Day of Obligation.
On these Holy Days of Obligation, we remember those events that are of the utmost importance in the history of our salvation. The most notable Holy Day of Obligation is Christmas (December 25) where we remember the birth of Jesus. No matter what day of the week that Christmas falls, Catholics are required to attend mass on Christmas.
In rare occurrences, the local bishop may give an exception to the obligation for a one-time occurrence. For example, it is common practice for the bishop to move the feast of Ascension (formerly called “Ascension Thursday”) to Monday, thus eliminating the obligation to attend on the sixth Thursday after Easter.
The following are a list of the Holy Days of Obligation in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis:
Come this September and October, Nativity of Mary will be hosting two delegates from Kitui, Kenya. I am going to write a three part series to get all of you, our parishioners, informed about the mission, why we partner with Africa, introduce you to our two delegates and our leadership team as well as inform you how you can get involved with building a relationship with our Kenyan delegates. Yes, that means some volunteer opportunities will be available too for you to take an active part in welcoming and supporting our two visiting delegates.
Back in 2001 the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) developed a mission (and document) titled Called to Solidarity with Africa. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invited the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis to partner in Africa and the Office for the Center for Mission was established in 2003.
2003 – Southeast Deanery invited to begin
2004 – Father Nicholas Maanzo and Bishop Lele visited here; agreement to formalize partnership was made
2005 – Minnesota delegation went to Kitui; partnership formalized; Mission and Vision Statements written
2006 – Kitui, Kenyan delegation visited Minnesota
2007 – Food Security Project in Nuu Parish began
2008 – Minnesota delegation went to Kitui, Kenya
2009 – School-to-School partnership began
2010 – Bishop Anthony Muheria visited in February; Antony Mbandi, Director of Kitui-Caritas visited too
2011 – Bishop Piche` and Minnesota delegation went to Kitui; Bishop Piche` Ordained Deacon Jefferson Mutina and Confirmed hundreds of souls.
2012 – By this year, 5 earthen dams completed
2013 – Living Water program launched
2014 - Minnesota delegation of 23 people went to Kitui, Kenya to celebrate our 10 year partnership anniversary
2015 – Father Robert Mitui from Kitui, Kenya arrived for two years stay serving within the Archdiocese
2016 – 67 Water tanks built for schools and one more earthen dam completed
2017 – Father Charlie Lachowitzer represented Archbishop Hebda along with Minnesota delegation to Kitui
2018 – Kitui, Kenyan delegation to arrive in September for 10 day visit
Global Solidarity Partnership
Diocese of Kitui, Kenya &
Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis
To make Jesus Christ known and loved by choosing to live the Gospel in every moment of our lives.
The Global Partnership between the Catholic Diocese of Kitui and the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis exists in recognition of our communion in the Body of Christ for the mutual sharing of our faith, our experience, our culture and our resources – gifts to us from God.