Stewardship

Stewardship and the Mass

During the months of October and November, oftentimes we hear about stewardship of our time, talents and treasure.  To many, when they hear this, they think “The church is asking for money again!” “Not another homily about money and budgets!”  As I was giving thought to our upcoming commitment Sunday and my own stewardship commitment to the church for another year, I began to contemplate where in the Mass do we consistently hear and speak about this topic of stewardship? Where in the ordinary parts of the Mass do we address care for God’s creation; giving of ourselves to help others and promote the Gospel; giving of our resources to support God’s kingdom and one another?

Each week our readings change, songs change, even the Eucharistic prayer may be different each week, but where is the consistent message of stewardship?  Is there a specific message about stewardship of our time, talents and treasure?  I think there is.  Let take some time again to be more mindful and pay attention to where we are asked by God and through the words of the Mass to give of ourselves and our resources.

Let’s start with what a steward is.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops describes several aspects of stewardship.  Let’s start this week with Stewards of Creation.

Stewards of Creation

The Bible contains a profound message about the stewardship of material creation: God created the world, but entrusts it to human beings. Caring for and cultivating the world involves the following:

  • Joyful appreciation for the God-given beauty and wonder of nature;
  • Protection and preservation of the environment, which would be the stewardship of ecological concern;
  • Respect for human life—shielding life from threat and assault, doing everything that can be done to enhance this gift and make life flourish; and
  • Development of this world through noble human effort—physical labor, the trades and professions, the arts and sciences. We call such effort “work.”  Work is a fulfilling human vocation.

The Second Vatican Council points out that, through work, we build up not only our world but the Kingdom of God, already present among us. Work is a partnership with God—our share in a divine human collaboration in creation. It occupies a central place in our lives as Christian stewards.

The next time you are at church for Mass for any particular service, make yourself aware of the opportunities God reminds you of being a steward through care for all creation and through our work.  Pay attention to the words of the opening hymn.  Listen carefully to the words of the Collect.  What are you singing about?  What are you praying about?

Processional Hymn: All Creatures of our God and King

All creatures of our God and king
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

Refrain

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Refrain

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

Refrain

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

Refrain

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

Refrain

And thou most kind and gentle death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

Refrain

Let all things their creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

Refrain

 

Collect for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Almighty ever-living God, who in the abundance of your kindness surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you, pour out your mercy upon us to pardon what conscience dreads and to give what prayer does not dare to ask. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Join in the conversation and let me know where you hear of God’s call to be stewards of all the gifts God gives us.

Let us all be mindful at Mass.

 

Advertisements
Standard
Prayer

Music for Healing the Troubled Soul

These are troubling times in the Catholic Church.  These are troubling times in the world, as a matter of fact.  These may be troubling times in our personal lives too. How do we cope with these difficulties in our lives? Of course there are several non-healthy ways to deal with our difficulties, but for today let us meditate on one way to help us cope with the troubles in our lives and the church–music.

What songs do you think of when you are suffering heartbreak or loss?  When I was younger I would listen to love songs when a relationship ended; oftentimes I would turn to those sappy love songs from the 70’s and 80’s to help ease the pain.  To this day, I enjoy listening to those songs, not because of heartbreak, but more nostalgia for days gone by.

In these days of scandal in the church, music, especially sacred music, can help us pray through our heartbreak, our sadness, our anger and hurt.  What are some of your favorite songs from Mass?  What genre of sacred music speaks to your heart?  Chant, polyphony, classical sacred music, praise and worship, traditional hymns, or something in between?  Whatever speaks to your heart, allow that music to offer the words that your heart and soul may find difficulty expressing.

Here are some sacred songs that help me in these troubling times.

There are so many different songs that speak to our hearts and souls, please take the time to listen and pray with them.  Share them with others who are struggling and needing guidance and encouragement.  When you come to church, pray the music with mindfulness and dedicate them to those you know are struggling, and allow them to fill you with hope and love and light.

May God be with you always. May God guide you through your dark times into the sunshine and warmth of God’s love and the love of those around you.  If we remembered that and allowed God’s love and the many songs of healing to take root in our hearts and lives and in the hearts and lives of those around us, imagine what kind of world we would live in.  May that come to be for all of us–a world of peace, love, respect, kindness–a world which works for everyone.

God bless each and every one of you.

We sing for those whose song is silent,
whose hidden hurt no tune could bear—
children whose innocence of loving
has long since gone beyond repair.
God, who conceived and gave us birth,
listen for those who’ve lost their worth.

We sing for those whose lives were mangled
when friendship turned to vile abuse,
as those they trusted traded kindness
for cruelty beyond excuse.
God, in whose image all were made,
feel for the ones who’ve been betrayed.

We sing for those who bear within them
scars in the body, mind, and soul,
fears from the past and, for tomorrow,
yearnings that they might yet be whole.
God, who in Christ was touched by pain,
make your hurt children whole again.

We pray for those who know temptation
worse than our earnest words can tell,
who covet pow’r, who lie in waiting
with evil lusts designed in hell.
Jesus, through whom the world is saved,
conquer the sin, heal the depraved.

We sing that through believing people
lives may be hallowed and made good,
and ask that God in ev’ry victim
shall see faith, hope, and love renewed.
This is our prayer, this is our song
to God, to whom we all belong.
Text: John L. Bell, b.1949; © 2017, WGRG, c/o Iona Community, GIA Publications, Inc., agent. Permission for use granted gratis through November 1, 2018

Standard
Bread of Life

Will you follow me or leave?

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

jesus-follow-me

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

 

We are at the end of John 6 and the followers of Jesus are leaving right and left.  What Jesus shared with them was just too much for them to swallow.  “This is a hard saying, who can accept it…”  Many returned to their old way of living…enough of this Jesus of Nazareth. But what about Jesus’ 12?  Will they reject Jesus’ difficult teaching?  I love Peter’s response. “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  (He didn’t find it difficult to continue to follow…at least right now….let’s check in with Peter later in the story…)  Peter got it.  Yeah, what you said takes some additional thought and understanding, but you have the words of eternal life.  You are eternal life.

No one ever said following Jesus would be easy.  When contemplating on this Gospel, I immediately thought of the hymn “The Summons.” I quote two verses above.  Jesus calls us to a new way of living, loving and understanding. It’s not the way this crazy world or culture we live in lives, loves and understands.  It seems that strife and division, sexual abuse and lies, deception and fake news are the norm these days. We are bombarded by challenges to our faith everyday.  Over all the noise in our daily living, do we continue to hear God’s call to believe and follow.  Do we really remember Jesus’ words of comfort, “I am with you always even to the end of the age.”  When life is crumbling down around us because of our own doing or because of someone else’s hurtfulness, do we reach out to God, knowing God is reaching out to us to guide us through those valleys of the shadow of death?

I think we all have our challenges in following Jesus. Who doesn’t, we are not perfect. We are on a journey. There will be twists and turns, huge mountains to climb and valleys to trudge through, lonely times as well as exquisite, beautiful, amazing moments in life when we humbly say thank-you God for your love–thank-you for your son Jesus.

In the midst of everything life brings, let us always say with Peter, “To whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.”  This weekend at Mass and every time we come before God, let us trust who is calling us to follow. Let us see Jesus in each other. Let us know without a doubt that Jesus is present and loving us unconditionally even when it feels like no one loves or cares.

Let us approach God with faithful hearts, sincere loving hearts, partaking of Jesus’ body and blood, knowing we have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Let us go out strengthened to glorify God with our lives today and always.

Standard
Bread of Life, Mindfulness

An Intimate Relationship

eastercommunionLet whoever is simple turn in here; To the one who lacks understanding, she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”(Proverbs 9)

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 34)

nourishing

 

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (John 6)

“I am in an intimate relationship…” conjures up many connotations.  In such a relationship–the people involved know each other better than anyone else.  There is a vulnerability not found in any other relationship.

I am in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”  What does that conjure up for you? Are you in an intimate relationship with Jesus or just acquaintances?  Someone who you tell your deepest secrets or are completely vulnerable to? Or, someone you acknowledge with a head nod or smile on the street or grocery aisle?

This past Sunday’s readings encourage us to take a long hard look at our relationship with Jesus.  He calls us to “munch and crunch” on his flesh and blood –like animals devour their food.  Quite the image, isn’t it?  What is Jesus trying to tell us in such graphic words?  Relationship with Jesus isn’t just a half way thing, not just little nibbles, wholeheartedly taking in Jesus entirely–being as close to Jesus as one possibly could be–eating and drinking flesh and blood–nothing more intimate than that.

In real life terms what does that mean for us?  Most everyone knows the phrase “You are what you eat.”  Same thing applies here.  If we claim to be followers of Jesus–we need to have Jesus live within us–be us.  The Eucharist is one very physical way in which we can be intimately connected to Jesus–and then share Jesus with others.

Jesus calls us to be intimately connected to him.  Can we do that? Do we fully understand what he is wanting to be with us?  The next time you approach the altar for communion take time to think about what you are about to do. Think about the intimate relationship you are entering as you receive the body and blood of Christ, as you move away and back to your place in the assembly.  How is Jesus going to live in me and through me as I pray and go out into the world in my everyday interactions.

You are entering into a most intimate relationship with Jesus.  You are pledging to be as Jesus. Selfless, loving, forgiving, kind,  and so on.  You are carrying Jesus within you to the world.  You are carrying Jesus and sharing Jesus with others as you interact with those who are difficult to love and understand, who are politically at odds with you, who have hurt you and others. What an awesome connection and daunting task!!  Thank God that as Jesus lives in us–imperfect people.  He remains true to himself and strengthens us to be the best we can be in each moment.  And when we fail?  He is ready to forgive and to love and to start over again.

Isn’t that what an intimate relationship is? Love no matter what. Holding up the other when they are weak, ready to forgive and begin again?

 

Standard
Mindfulness

Nourishment for the Journey

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” (I Kings)

windingdirtroad

“I sought the LORD, and he answered me. And delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34)

“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 4)

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”(John 6)

Another shooting on the news, another riot, or raging forest fire, how much more can we take?  Another day of political bickering, violence and hatred all around the world. How much more can we handle? There are days the challenges of daily living and the challenges of living in a polarized world are too much. Where do we find the strength we desire for our journey through life? Where?
How timely it is that we are in the midst of the “Bread of Life” discourse at this uncertain time in the world.  “Death” is all around us and we hear Jesus say, “I am the living bread come down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Life need not be full of death. There is life in Jesus Christ.  Life in God.
This week we see the recurring theme of “nourishment for the journey” in all the readings.  I highlighted a few at the beginning of this post.  Elijah received nourishment for his arduous journey to the “mountain of God.” The Psalmist praises God for deliverance from all his fears. Paul reminds us to live in love, sacrificial love. Sacrifice our selfish motives and love each other and ourselves unconditionally. Finally, we hear Jesus say the nourishment you seek is found in me–believe.
This nourishment is available to us each and every moment of our life’s journey, but in a special way we are nourished at the Eucharist. “Take and eat, take and drink”…”Become what you receive”…”Go out and glorify the Lord by your life.”  Each time we partake of Christ’s body and blood we are like Elijah on our journey to the mountain of God. We receive the continued strength to love and serve each–no matter the circumstance or challenge.
We are witnesses of God’s love through Jesus Christ every time at Mass.  We taste and see the signs and miracles that the people in Jesus day were clamoring for, but refused to see.  Jesus’ sacrificial love is our sign, is our greatest desire, our surest hope in this world of “death.”
We are coming to the point in the “Bread of Life” discourse that we must ask ourselves, do we believe?  Am I willing to find my nourishment in Jesus?  Is the cost too great or too little to follow and believe in the living bread that came down from heaven?  Is Jesus’ teaching of unconditional love too difficult for me to live by.  Holding a grudge, not forgiving hurts is so easy to do.  It’s much easier to grumble about what’s wrong in our lives than to trust that God is with us and guiding us and nourishing us through every twist and turn, mountain and valley.  It’s easier to believe we are all alone on this journey, or we don’t need anyone to accompany us on our journey.  But that kind of “nourishment” or “food” is so fleeting and unhealthy.  We always end up wanting more and starving for what really brings us life.
This week, meditate on how Jesus–the living bread from heaven–is present with you on your journey.  Where do you see Jesus? Where are you experiencing Jesus’ loving nourishment? How will you praise God for seeing and tasting the goodness of the Lord?

 

Standard
Mindfulness

Bread of Life; Bread for the World

bread

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, (John 6)

“…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.  (Ephesians 4)

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6)

“Bread for the world A world of hunger Wine for all peoples People who thirst May we who eat Be bread for others May we who drink Pour out our love…” (Bread for the World: Bernadette Farrell)

What strikes me this week as I meditate on these scriptures for Sunday is Jesus’ response to those following him after the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  “Do not work for food that perishes…”  I hear Jesus speaking to those people and our world today, “Don’t get so caught up in yourself and your ego.  Focus on something eternally more important.”

We live in the midst of so many distractions – technological, political, relational, personal.  We get so caught up in the noise that we forget to listen to what Jesus tells and shows us each time we hear God’s Word and partake of Jesus’ Body and Blood.

We want the “bread” of this world.  We keep wanting it with an insatiable hunger that we totally forget about that “Bread” which will always keep us satiated and strengthened to live in this world being “bread” for others.

St. John Paul II tells us that “the celebration of the Eucharist is a missionary event.” We empty ourselves of our selfishness and fill up on the selfless love of Jesus Christ each time we come to the table.  With that nourishment we can go out and “glorify the Lord with our lives, our words, and acts of selfless love.”  St. John Paul II also reminds us that the Eucharist is also a permanent school for charity, justice and peace, for renewing the surrounding world in Christ. From the presence of the Risen One, believers draw the courage to be artisans of solidarity and renewal–committed to transforming the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times entire peoples are entangled. (cf. Dies Domini 73)

This world needs what we have to offer from Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.  The world needs more selfless unconditional love, kindness, respect, understanding and peace for every person regardless of color, economic position, political viewpoint, orientation or nationality.  Let us be that Bread to the World. Why? Not out of selfish ambition (food that perishes) but because the love of Christ, the Bread of Life, compels us.

Let us be bread and wine, love and peace to our hurt, broken world…

 

 

 

Standard
Mindfulness

Jesus Christ: Bread of Life

bread“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145)

“…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…” (Eph. 4)

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.  When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”(John 6)

We have entered into the dog days of summer.  The sun, warm weather, vacations at the beach or in the north woods or some far away place beckons us to come away from our everyday living and get away.   If we are mindful of what we are hearing at Mass, God is beckoning us to delve deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ, the bread of life.

Beginning with the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, we are entering into some heady scriptures and challenging concepts to our faith life as Christians. These next few weeks, in our effort to be more mindful at Mass and in our daily living as Jesus followers, we will dive into what Jesus claims to be the Bread of Life and what consuming his body and blood means for us inside and outside of Mass.

The scripture quotes at the beginning of this blog help us begin to meditate on what Jesus is calling us to be and do.  God provides all that we need. Jesus vividly demonstrates this with the loaves and the fishes. Paul calls us out of ourselves and reminds us of who and what we are.  Sit with these passages, pray with them, listen to what God is telling you.  Reflect on their meaning and impact on the world we live in today.

Enter into the conversation and let me know of your reflections and observances as we look at the Bread of Life discourse and its meaning at Mass and in our daily living.   Let us all become more mindful of who we are and what we become.

“We are one body, one body in Christ;
and we do not stand alone.
We are one body, one body in Christ;
and he came that we might have life.” (Refrain: “We Are One Body”: Dana Scallon)

 

 

Standard