You may have noticed that there are some older altar servers who wear a gold colored cincture (rope or belt). These servers have the title of liturgical coordinators. Their preparation for this role includes up to ten hours of theology training.
A major focus in this training is the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ and how this mystery is celebrated in our liturgies. What do we mean by the Paschal Mystery? The Paschal Mystery is Christ’s saving life, death and resurrection. In our sacraments and liturgy Christ continues to be present with us today through the Spirit. Our witness to the faith is the life that we live — in our love for one another, as our Lord taught us through word and action. The liturgical coordinators are very much aware of this and serve our parish with an understanding of this basic truth.
We celebrate the mysteries over a period of a year. These servers are taught how the liturgical year is arranged and what the church documents dictate, i.e. which feasts are major and which are minor. They learn how to find the readings in the Lectionary (book containing the readings) and to mark the Sacramentary (book containing the prayers). They study every one of the eucharistic prayers and compare their similarities and differences. This gives these coordinators a sense of ownership as they pray along with the presider in their silent understanding.
Another major focus of this theology training is that “we pray as we believe and we believe as we pray.” To emphasize this fact, several prayers from the celebration of the sacraments are examined. The Gloria and creeds are also studied and their contents are examined. They learn that the Gloria, the creeds and the sacramental prayers all express what we believe.
Prior to the start of the liturgy, the coordinators make sure that each assigned altar server has a unique responsibility. Once everything is in its proper place, they direct the altar servers to line up for the procession. While the servers are in line, the liturgical coordinators check that each server understands his or her responsibilities. During the liturgy they direct and assist the servers.
Padre Serra Parish is very grateful that we have 16 dedicated liturgical coordinators who know how to mentor and care for all the altar servers.
Altar Server Ministry Director
Also visit: Altar Servers
Today’s reading from Mark’s gospel is one of my favorites, but with some caveats. I love what Jesus teaches his apostles after his conversation with James and John (Zebedee’s sons):
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
It reminds me of a story one of our well-loved parishioners tells about when he and his wife first arrived at Padre Serra. She asked him how they would ever get to know people and be part of this new community into which they had moved. His answer was something like this: “That’s easy. Whatever activity or event we go to, we just stay after and help clean up.” They did that, and, sure enough, their experience was exactly as he’d predicted. They got to know more and more people, good people, who came to love and value them and they felt themselves more and more deeply drawn into the life of the parish and its people.
It is taking me a little longer to learn this lesson but I can say that in some cases where I’d rather not, but it seemed the only right thing to do, when I pitched in and helped with post-party or post-meeting cleanup, it has proved to be a way of connecting to other people and I walk away with a sense of peace.
I have a long way to go. This willingness to be of service comes from a radical sense of the value of the person we try to help, indeed, from an awareness of their having been made in God’s image and likeness. Saints see that value readily, even in the most wretched (St. Teresa of Calcutta comes to mind). For me, I have to make an effort of will sometimes, and ask for God’s help to see it in the people I encounter at home, or at work, or in the news.
Returning to the conversation between Jesus, James and John before the passage above. It seems that the two apostles are looking for a shortcut to greatness. “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” When Jesus says to them “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” their glib response “we can” leaves me shaking my head at their apparent cluelessness. Of course James and John did go on to become great saints, so maybe there is hope for me when I am dense and self-absorbed, but not without cost:
The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized
If I read this correctly, there will be suffering for me, even were I to follow Jesus perfectly (which of course I can’t). It’s the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews that gives me (us) hope, in spite of my desire for glory and my reluctance sometimes to roll up my sleeves and serve. The author, referring to Jesus, says:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
Thanks be to God. Let’s pray for one another.
Dear Parish Family,
While running around doing my errands with my husband, there were two songs that came up in the playlist that really got my attention: The Beatles, Dear Prudence, followed by Baby, You’re a Rich Man. Funny that they both came up, as I was preparing to write this letter. I know those songs have nothing to do with our readings today, however the words that stayed with me echoed our message.
Such as the first words in the song, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play” and the first words in our first reading, “I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.” Calling on the virtue of prudence to be present. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our “true good” in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; I remember as a child my mother often reminded me to pray for prudence, as I needed to think before I spoke out loud.
When I did, I notice I did not put my foot in my mouth quite as much. In our Gospel, a young, rich man is seeking to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells the man to give up his earthly possessions (his treasure will be in heaven) and follow him. This was something that saddens the man, for he had many possessions he didn’t want to give up, and he walked away. Jesus responds, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” What does this mean? Does God need us to be poor in order to inherit eternal life? Are we not allowed to have good things in life? Doesn’t God want our happiness? He not only wants our happiness but our Salvation too!
If we only look on the surface, it can put us, like the young man, in a bit of an identity crisis. Are we of this world, or are we seeking the Kingdom of God? The world tells us that wealth and possessions equate successes, this is what we all strive for and must make many sacrifices to obtain. When we go beyond our basic needs, pursuing to acquire luxury to excess, and it is never enough.
I may think, I’m not rich! I don’t own my own house or have all the luxuries ... yet I needed the taunting reminder in the Beatles song “Baby you’re a rich man; Baby you’re a rich man; Baby you’re a rich man too.” I know that after I have had my fill of a satisfying meal, rarely do I think of who is hungry around me. However, before my meal I look to see who I can share my meal with ... two very different thoughts and actions. Our comforts can keep us from seeing the need in our brothers and sisters.
Jesus doesn’t want to make it difficult for us to follow him, but he does want us to follow him with our whole heart. Sometimes this requires that we make changes in our lives to be Jesus’ disciple. If we truly believe our Home is in heaven, why would we be surprised that Jesus asks us to leave behind our possessions? Our physical wealth on this earth should not be what holds us back from entering the Kingdom of God. Let us always pray for prudence and wisdom, to keep us focused on our identity, Children of God and heirs of his kingdom, making our treasure in heaven, not on this earth.
Faith Formation Minister
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Thanks and Blessings!
Dear Faith Family,
This Sunday’s Gospel can be perceived as controversial. There are always legitimate concerns about the morality of divorce and it was no different back then. While the Church does have a stance on the morality of divorce (which is not as black and white as it seems in the Gospel), I do invite you all to look at this reading with a different lens. Let’s not be like the Pharisees who try to distract Jesus from preaching the good news. Instead of focusing on the conversation on divorce, it may be best to focus on how Jesus talks about the beauty of marriage.
The way Jesus explains the marital union as “two becoming one” is quite unique and intimate. I am blessed to have been married to my wife Britney for over 2 years and as many of you know, marriage is quite a wonderful journey. The joys of being with someone you adore is hard to express in words and I’m lucky that our commitment to each other has helped us through the inevitable difficulties of life.
I must say though, the thing I cherish most about my marriage, is the willingness to bring each other closer to Christ. And as many of you know, there are so many married couples that exemplify Christ’s love, and they motivate us to be holier people.
In the first reading this Sunday, from the book of Genesis, the bond between Adam and Eve bring so much joy that Adam can’t help but exalt his joy through poetry:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
The beauty of this union is evident in not only the Gospels, but the book of Genesis. In the beginning of the Old Testament, to the start of the New Testament. It’s quite amazing to think that God has intended for marriage to be so intimate and complementary.
Divorce is rough, but like hell, if we focus on the fear of living as opposed to the joy of salvation/joy, we tend to miss the mark. The Gospels aren’t intended to be fear driven but it’s quite the opposite. It is clear that the Pharisees are trying to prevent Jesus from preaching about the glory of salvation, but Jesus makes sure to not be distracted by their challenge.
This is why the meaning of evangelization is “sharing the good news,” we were created to be creatures that yearn for union. If you are someone going through divorce, please know that you are both welcome and loved at the Church. If you need any discussion, counseling or prayer, we will always be here.
Youth and Young Adult Minister