Can Christmas still change the world? The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship. So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt? Along the way the best story in the world... has become a story of what's on sale.
Let’s conspire this Advent to change the way we celebrate Christmas! During the Sundays of Advent, we will focus on four simple ways to worship fully, spend less, give more & love all.
I remember as a child arguing with my siblings and cousins about who got to sit next to Grandma. We loved her so much and just wanted to snuggle up close and feel her love. Fortunately, Grandma had two sides and a lap so at least three of us could be lucky at any given time! In today’s gospel Jesus explains that God has two sides as well.
This gospel is about the final judgment when God will separate us as a shepherd does with the good and bad animals of his flock. The good are identified as the sheep and the bad as goats. The sheep and goats represent all the nations, all peoples who will be called together for this judgment. The point of the sheep and goat image is that all of us, you and me, will be judged by God on the basis of loving the least, how well we care for the weak and disadvantaged. Caring for the least of our sisters and brothers is our highest calling!
We’ve been hearing this theme of judgment in recent Sundays, as we always do at the end of the liturgical year. Today’s very direct and demanding gospel bridges us to the theme of preparedness in the coming weeks of Advent. So today, we are given the opportunity to reflect and evaluate how we’re doing, what are we really doing for the least then act. The kingdom of here and now is one of action and deeds and the season of Advent lends itself to simple, easy ways, or entry points, to care for the weak and disadvantaged in our midst:
Then let us take caring to the next level. The New Year is a good time to renew our commitment and challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone to care for others. If our judgment is based on what we do for “the least,” what side do we want to be on?
Will you be on the left with the goats, or will you be with the sheep on the right side, enjoying the splendor and abundant love of God’s heavenly kingdom?
Faith Life Minister
Dear Faith Family,
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
It has officially been 18 days since the Los Angeles Dodgers have broken my heart, so I think it’s time for me to get over it and talk about what it means to be thankful.
I say that jokingly (kinda), but there does seem to be a funny stereotype around Thanksgiving. In every movie and TV show that revolves around the theme of this holiday, the same thing happens. The scene starts off wonderfully; family members arriving, enjoying each other’s company, but inevitably, usually during the dinner scene, something is said and BAM! the drama begins. The good news is, by the end of the film, someone advocated for peace and harmony during this holiday, and the family comes to their senses and expresses all that they are thankful for.
Sometimes to be thankful is an easy task when something great has happened in our lives. This is indeed the proper response to any great news or life event, God has given us the ability to feel this way. Sometimes I am in awe about the way our God has created us in such a unique way.
Sometimes also, in our busy lives, especially during this busy holiday season, we need to take a step back and allow ourselves to be thankful. Allow the ability to take a break from business to reflect on the good in our lives to be the protagonist in the holiday film, helping us to understand that we have a lot to be grateful for.
So, what am I grateful for? A beautiful wife, a wonderful daughter, great family and friends and a great parish family. I’m especially grateful to all the leaders that dedicate so much time to youth and young adult ministry. I can’t remember how many times I’ve ever stated my gratitude for them previously, but I know that I haven’t stated it enough.
That’s my growing list of the things I’m currently thankful for. And I know this is the thanksgiving holiday bulletin letter, but I must make sure to express my gratitude to God for these things as well, because through Him, I have all these things and I’m able to understand what love truly is.
So, with all that said, what are you thankful for? Before you prep up that wonderful Thanksgiving speech this Thursday, why don’t you give a practice speech to God in your nightly prayer? I’m sure he would love to hear it as well. Even if you’re still trying to get over the World Series.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
November 19, 2017
My Dear Parish Family,
Advent is only three weeks away! If Advent is the time to prepare for Christmas, this must be the time to prepare for Advent! What needs to be done? Today’s Gospel spells it out for us in two action items.
First, be present. How can we receive an invitation if we are not there or not reachable or not known? “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” Here I am Lord, pick me, use me. I am yours. Be present.
Second, be ready. This is not idle time, waiting, this is active time, living a Christian life every single day. “Those who were ready went into the feast.” Beyond get ready, be ready.
Here is the ‘lineup’ at Padre Serra for things that will help us be known to Jesus and be ready for his invitation:
Little Books – one of my favorite things – will be available beginning next weekend in the narthex (church lobby). These little blue books offer a short, rich reading and reflection for each day of Advent. The perfect accompaniment to that first cup of coffee or tea in the morning and a great way to be known and present to Jesus in prayer and have hearts that are ready for his invitation.
Additionally, next weekend please find opportunities to support Life Centers and St. Vincent de Paul through poinsettia plants and See’s candies and help people in need at home and in third world counties through the Angel Tags on the trees in church and Concern America crafts in the courtyard. Give the gift of life through blood donation right here on campus next Sunday.
In recent weeks, I have been enjoying watching reruns of the Andy Griffith Show from the 1960’s. Invariably, the characters end up on the front porch, usually after ‘supper’ singing songs, or reminiscing, or recapping their day. It is peaceful presence they have together, a gentle connectedness found among family and friends. Let’s identify the ‘porch moments’ in our lives … coffee in the courtyard on Sunday mornings, hospitality after the penance service, dinner and a concert, finding Jesus at every turn.
Let’s set our focus on Jesus. Enjoy our family over the Thanksgiving holiday, seeing Jesus in each person gathered. Taking the opportunity to be attentive and focus on relationships. Let’s talk about our bucket lists and what in our life has given us great satisfaction. I think a lot of living well and being ready has to do with having our priorities in order. Articulate them.
The church gave us the whole season of Advent! An entire season to prepare, to make ready, to be about Jesus. Hallmark and the retail industry want us to think it is Christmas before Halloween. I am going with the wisdom of the Church. In the bigger life view, Advent is the time that helps us prepare to see God someday. I want to spend my Advent being present to the people around me, helping in small and big ways every day and with my heart set on Jesus in all I think, do and say.
On that eventual day when the Bridegroom comes, it is a matter of ready, set, go.
Parish Life Minister
Fr. Jim Clarke
Because our faith in God and our love for our church is so important to us, we are always eager to share what we have discovered with others. But our busy lives often get in the way: we have good intentions but little time.
Spend a precious hour with Fr. Jim for some new and insightful ideas about how evangelization (“sharing our faith”) can become part of our everyday way of life at home, work, school, and everywhere we go.
We can always look to the saints. One favorite is St. Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower.” St. Therese wrote, “What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” She lived a life of attention to others. She believed in living as one flower among all the other flowers in God’s garden.
From time to time we encounter people who, like our saints, inspire us. Over the past seven years, I’ve been blessed to work alongside someone who embodies this spirit of love, service, and humility in everything she does. While it is a daunting task to encapsulate who she is in a few short paragraphs, I am excited to celebrate quiet hero – Mrs. Liz Loll – retired St. Mary Magdalen School Vice Principal and Padre Serra parishioner and active volunteer.
Liz had an amazing ability to seemingly be everywhere at once and always be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to lend a hand. Whether it was a student who needed a little TLC or a parent who needed some sage advice or even a principal who needed a listening ear, Liz was always there with a cheerful attitude and a kind word. Never looking for recognition or praise. At school Liz was a visible and tangible sign of God’s love; the love that he has for each one of us.
One of her favorite roles was sharing her Catholic faith with our students. Whether teaching in the classroom, helping eighth graders with service at Many Meals, or preparing students to lead the community during weekly Mass, Liz was and is a beacon of faith to everyone around her.
Even though she retired from her daily responsibilities at the school last June, she is still very much involved at our school, parish and in our greater Camarillo community. Liz embodies the words of Mother Teresa who said, “Do small things with great love.” Liz serves those around her with great love, in her own beautiful and humble way.
Please join me in thanking and celebrating our friend and hero, Liz Loll!
Mike Ronan, Principle
Saint Mary Magdalen School
Monday, November 6, 2017
7:00 Prayer Service
Serra Center and Church
Let's be thankful for all our many blessings. Come to our gathering and enjoy:
- Yummy food provided!
- Great family fellowship with a spiritual connection...and craft!
- Holy peace, prayers and priests available to give blessings.
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