With summer and our vacations almost upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to give you some encouragement to make your summer time special and close to God!
It’s so important to bring a spirit of deep gratitude to God with you on vacation. So, before you travel, I encourage you to visit masstimes.org, where you can enter almost any place you will travel, even outside the U.S. You’ll get a google map with markers of the local Catholic churches and their times for Masses and confessions throughout the week, as well as a link to their webpages, if they have any. There are also some Mass-time apps for you to investigate. So plan some time on your Sunday mornings for Mass.
If you’ll be visiting with friends or family in far-off places, let them know that worshipping God on Sunday morning is a priority. Most will make an effort to accommodate you. Your expressing this interest is a form of evangelizing them – proclaiming the powerful place God has in your life.
If you can, keep the bulletins from the churches you visit and share them with me when you return. I learn all kinds of things from reviewing other parishes’ activities in their bulletins.
By the way, many cruises have Catholic chaplains offering Mass on-board.
On a different note, I encourage you to get a paperback Bible and put it in the trunk of your car, or download the Bible to your iPhone, perhaps the New American Bible, Revised Edition, which has an app for only $2.99. Put a post-it note at Psalm 104, to pray when you’re in the mountains or at the ocean – It’s a beautiful hymn of praise for all of God’s creation. Another would be Psalm 66, especially verses 614, when at the ocean or in a place where farmers bring forth food from the earth. If you’re ever in a place where you can see the Milky Way, have Psalm 8 close to hand and recount the glory of God’s heavens. Perhaps, in a place of wild beauty, you’ll want to simply reread the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, on the creation of the world. A really special thing to do, in a place of wild beauty, with the spouse you love passionately, is to read the Song of Solomon together. The NABRE puts a “W” where the woman is to read, and an “M” where the man is supposed to read. There are some comical moments, comparing one’s wife to a mare, or one’s husband to an apple tree, but there are even more expressions that are beautiful. If flying gets to you, Psalm 91 is a lovely prayer for God’s calming assistance.
If you’re interested in a book to share with your small children on a road trip, take a look at Does God Know How to Tie Shoes, by Nancy White Carlstrom.
If you’re going to spend time with family and friends, consider avoiding politics for a while longer. Everyone’s feeling a bit fragile, and it’s so easy to spoil a good time with talk on divisive issues. Give yourself permission to kindly, kindly, tell your kin that you’d rather talk about something else.
I hope you have the most wonderful journeys. It might be nice, though, to give yourself some time to really rest. God rested at the end of Creation. Leave some time for that in whatever vacation time you have. Remember, if you don’t have any vacation time coming, that if you run down to Point Mugu with a beach chair and a sandwich and whatever else you want to snack on, you can give yourself a mini-vacation at a place of spectacular beauty. We are so lucky to live where we do!
As your father, I need to remind you to put on your sunscreen and have amazing adventures.
Dear Parish Family,
In the last few weeks many of us have been celebrating the promotions and graduations of the young people in our lives. We are filled with pride and are so hopeful for their future. We are confident that they will achieve great things. What will they become?
In the same manner, parents who are expecting the birth of their child are filled with so much love and expectations for the future. Carefully choosing the name, one which will give them much success. And with so much hope we ask, who will this child grow up to be?
This Sunday, we are reminded that God calls each of us for a special purpose. Today we celebrate the nativity of St John the Baptist, chosen before his birth, given a name by God. A name that means “God is gracious.” A name that made others question, “What will this child be?” We now know his mission was to prepare the way for the Lord.
Like John the Baptist, the twelve disciples, and many of the saints, the call and task were extraordinary within the history of salvation. We too have been called, most of us the call and task are more ordinary. Using their lives as our examples of how to live our life of faith.
Let us ask ourselves, who will we be? What is God’s mission for me?
With full confidence, living our faith in our homes and work, with our friends and families. In our ordinary actions and words, in our successes, defeats, joys and sorrows, with God in the center of all our thoughts and actions, may we lead others to our Lord. For each and every one of us have been given certain gifts and abilities to live out our mission. And if we lose confidence, let us remember today’s Psalm: “I praise you for I am wonderfully made. Truly you have formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb. I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.”
Faith Formation Minister
As I look at this weekend’s readings, and think about being a dad, a grandfather and a son, a few themes emerge and I’d like to share them with you, in case they’d be useful.
In the second reading from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, the apostle acknowledges the tension of living in the here and now, and yet living by faith: “… we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what s/he did in the body, whether good or evil.” Clearly patience is required to live with this tension. Patience is also required of fathers, grandfathers and sons. I don’t mean only the patience a father must have as his children grow and learn and make mistakes along the way. I mean also the patience that fathers must learn to have with themselves, grappling with the truth that they are not perfect any more than their children are, nor than their own fathers were. The stakes are unbelievably high, though, when it comes to raising our children and we so badly want to get it right from the beginning. In Hearts On Fire, Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. puts it this way:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient on the way to something unknown, something new.
In our first reading from Ezekiel, we are reminded that the LORD operates in ways beyond our understanding: “I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom.” Dads know what it is to see our children turn out differently than we had planned, or to arrive at a good place but by a route we had not foreseen, nor endorsed! If our children, who are really only on loan to us, don’t succeed in some way to teach us to allow God to operate in his sometimes strange ways, then I don’t know who or what will. Chardin continues:
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
In today’s passage from Mark’s gospel, Jesus tells the parable of a man who scatters seed on the land and goes about his business, rising and sleeping, night and day, trusting that through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
Since the man’s livelihood, indeed his life are dependent on what happens “of its own accord,” that is, the land yielding fruit for the harvest, it’s clear that trust is in play here. And so it is with fathers, and grandfathers and sons. It may be that we come to trust in God only with great struggle. It may be that we have to renew that struggle daily, or maybe in different seasons of our lives. But trust we must. Chardin concludes:
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his
hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
And why are we counseled to accept this anxiety and to trust? Because “of its own accord, the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”
So, our children, our dads, ourselves … one way or another we all become ripe for the harvest, in God’s mysterious way, in God’s time.
Director of Music and Liturgy
Dear friends on the journey,
Today’s readings are challenging and present us some serious issues to consider. The first reading shows us that, upon creation, God gave us free will and what happens when we choose our will over God’s. In the gospel, Jesus said that a kingdom which is divided cannot stand. He was also rocking the boat, challenging the societal norms, the status quo and creating uneasiness.
Division seems to be a word used a lot lately about the world, politics, economics, society, religion, communities, families and in our own selves. Divisions among and in these arenas are causing some shaky ground these days. The news is filled with stories of conflict. Perhaps they don’t directly affect our daily living, but they certainly impact our internal balance and how we view our sisters and brothers in God’s family. It’s a challenge to view the world, not just through our fuzzy lens, but as God views his beloved creation.
We may have inherited this division, but God has never left us alone with it. Throughout salvation history, God has given us ample opportunities and solutions to combat and heal the divisions in and around us, the best and most complete of all being Jesus, our redeemer, brother, healer, teacher, friend, and guide. In recent weeks, we’ve celebrated Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, but he did not leave us alone there. He gave us the Holy Spirit, the powerful working of the Trinity and Jesus’ ongoing presence in the Eucharist. Other God-given “resources” to help us to discern God’s will in our own personal lives and how we view the world around us include prayer, scripture, tradition, church teaching, and the saints.
I know it’s super cliche but I honestly believe in the help of one simple question: What would Jesus do? Honestly though, this question has assisted me many times, especially when I couldn’t seem to make sense of a situation. What does God want me to do? What would Jesus do?
What would Jesus do if people from other lands came to his neighborhood? What would Jesus do if he was a baker asked to make a cake? What would Jesus do about a billion hungry people? What would Jesus do for the homeless person? What would Jesus do for the newly released prisoner? What would Jesus do for abused children, women and elderly? What would Jesus do about the bully in the classroom? What would Jesus do for the lonely, isolated teen? What would Jesus do about the annoying neighbor? What would Jesus do for a loved one who doesn’t believe or go to church? What would Jesus do with a disagreeable family member? What would Jesus do for you? What would Jesus do for me?
Jesus would love. That’s it.
Maybe the unsteady ground is good for it causes us to think and question the status quo and external influences. Only when we follow God’s will and stand on gospel values will we experience stability.
Faith Life Minister
Dear Faith Family,
Thank you for all of your support for our teens during the Confirmation process. Last weekend, our Confirmation liturgy was a wild success as more than 100 teens and adults received the Seal of the Holy Spirit.
Throughout the process, we always tell the Confirmation candidates that once they are Confirmed, that it is not the end of their formation, but rather, it is the beginning of their journey. Sometimes with the hubbub of a long catechetical process, we tend to forget the goal of Confirmation — to ask the Holy Spirit to equip us to “make disciples of all nations.” Yes, it is a call for all of us as Christians, but with Confirmation we ask the Holy Spirit to assist us in this journey.
So what does that mean, exactly? How do we make disciples of all nations? As you already know, it is within our parish mission statement to “encounter Jesus, be disciples” and within our mission lies our first step. To encounter Jesus Christ. How do we do this? I’m not sure when it happens, but I do know that it only happens when we seek Him. Once we do, the walls are torn down and our mission begins.
I wish making disciples was cut and dry with easy instruction, but once we encounter Jesus, we learn about ourselves in a deeper way, especially in the way that God calls us to share His good news. So does that mean some of us are called to go door to door to invite people to church? Yes, but this may not be some of us. Are some of us called to form our families in Christian values so they can set the world on fire? Yes, but some of us may not have families. As you can see, there are a multitude of ways that we can pursue this mission, but it is always most important to ask our God how he wants us to do
it; he definitely created us with gifts in mind to share the promise of salvation.
If you’re still confused on how to share the love of God, welcome to the club. I’m convinced it is a journey that lasts throughout our lifetimes. This is why a strong community of believers who are willing to support is vital to this mission. I don’t have to explain where to get that, I’m pretty sure we get that here.
So continue on the mission, friends. I’ll be praying for you as I hope that you are praying for me. It is officially ordinary time in our Church calendar. Let’s not let it be ordinary though, let’s use this time to show the world that Jesus invites us to His
church, even when it’s no longer Easter or Advent.
Youth and Young Adult Minister