Stewardship of the Earth

This year, spring ushers in Earth Day 2016 on April 22. This year’s theme is “Trees for the Earth” and we’re all en­couraged to plant a tree.

But environmental stewardship goes way beyond our ability to plant a tree. There are so many ways to honor Earth Day. As Christian stewards, we know that our commitment to stew­ardship of the earth is growing increas­ingly important.

Pope Francis has led the way with his encyclical, On Care of Our Common Home (Laudato Si), and he makes it very clear that stew­ardship of the environment is front and center for Christians in this time of environmental degradation.  Here’s paragraph 217 of his 184-page encyc­lical: “Living our vocation to be pro­tectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

Words like “essential” and “not an option” underscore the necessity for stewards to step up our commitment to the earth.

The year 2015 was our hottest in recorded history. We’ve all heard the frightening stories of sea levels ris­ing, threatening islands and even some of our coastal cities. “Hundred year storms” are becoming increas­ingly common.

Pope Francis, in the paragraph cited above, also says our ecological crisis is “a summons to pro­found interior conversion.” All of this can seem overwhelming, but small steps can make a difference, and they must start with prayer and a change of heart.

  •  Keep canvas bags in your car so you always have them available at the grocery. Forego plastic.
  • Com­mit to a few degrees of difference in your heating and air conditioning settings. Turn off power strips when not in use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and hang clothes to dry. Restrict lawn watering and time your showers.
  • Al­ways recycle. Commit to buying less “stuff” and living more simply.
  • Be a vo­cal advocate with your political lead­ers about climate change.
  • Be an example to your children.
  • Keep in mind: stewardship of the earth is “essential to a life of virtue.”

Stewards Find Hope in the Cross

Do you ever think about how you experience the cross of Jesus Christ? Do you ever think about the power of that cross in your daily life? Is the cross even relevant to your life?

It is to stewards of the Lord, who recognize the hope Christ brings through the gift of his cross. They acknowledge that for them, the cross is their only hope.

Being good stewards of our life in Christ is not easy, but to embrace the cross is not only countercultural, it seems absurd. Then again, we cannot avoid what Jesus said to his disciples: “If you wish to come after me you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me. For if you wish to save your life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

The cross is more readily embraced by people of faith who suffer, are poor, broken, or are the victims of such things as violence, oppression or natural disasters. They see the cross as the hope that no matter what has happened to them, God will see them through. The Father did it for Jesus who hung on the cross, so surely their sufferings will be redeemed by Jesus’ sufferings.

Where people possess much material abundance, comfort and leisure, how¬ever, there is a tendency to de-emphasize the cross, to draw away from it. They can’t touch it or feel it so they wish to “save” their lives by looking to other things: power, wealth, fame, relevance, being the center of attention. What is preached about the cross from the pulpit sounds good, but in reality something more tangible is desired.

Christ emptied himself completely in humble obedience, allowing himself to suffer and die out of compassion for the world (Philippians 2:6-11). Good stewards follow his example and work day-to-day to empty themselves and live com¬passionately; most noticeably by sharing their lives with others.

As we continue on our Easter journey, let us ask the Holy Spirit for an even deeper awareness of the cross in our lives. Let us find hope in the cross and pray that as we embrace it, we too will experience in a special way the joy of new life in the risen Lord.

The clergy and parish staff wish you abundant blessing for you personally and your families. And may we continue to grow stronger every day as a Parish Family. Happy Easter!

Stewardship and the Power to be Transformed

How were you first introduced to stewardship as a way of life? When did this spirituality first begin to shape the way you live, the decisions you make, and the way in which your faith directs your daily life? I have been thinking about this quite often of late, as I have reflected on the potential each of us has to touch others with the stewardship message.

Many years ago now, a friend who worked in publishing and I were talking about parish life. I was fumbling around, trying to explain the impact that stewardship was having on our parishioners and on the parish. My friend suddenly stopped me and said, “Well of course this is happening! Stewardship can really change our lives, can it not?” His comment broke through my stumbling thoughts, as his remark echoed the U.S. bishops’ insight in Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. At the very beginning of the bishops’ pastoral letter they write: “Stewardship is an expression of discipleship that has the power to change how we understand and live out our lives.”

What stunned me about my friend’s comment was how passionately he expressed his understanding and how clearly he saw this.

I realized that my experience of him as a giving and generous person was a result of his growth as a steward. His witness in the course of an every-day conversation between friends has remained with me for over ten years, and has urged me on in times when my own “disciple’s response” has seemed weak or lagging.

It seems to me that if we are to lead others along the stewardship journey, we must ourselves live, grow and allow ourselves to be transformed by the power of stewardship. We must be prepared to witness to the ways in which stewardship has changed how we “understand and live out our lives.” We may never know the impact our personal sharing or ministerial co¬ordination will have on others, but I can tell you from my own experience of being touched by my friend that the potential is there for us to truly make a difference.

What is your story? With whom might you share it during this Lenten season?

This article was written by Leisa Anslinger, author and co-founder of Catholic Strengths and Engagement Community (CSEC) and originally published in the ICSC March 2016 newsletter.

A story only become a story when it is told. Before that it is just a though or a diary. It is in the telling that another life can be impacted.

What I have found is that I rarely learn something new from a person’s story. (How much “new” is there at my age?) But what I do learn is to see a situation from a different perspective. Or I’m inspired by someone’s bravery, dedication, faith. Or I’m encouraged on my own journey by way of another’s example.

I have found that I get the most comments on Barbie’s Corner when I tell a story. Trust me, I don’t think I’m all that wise. But I do realize that it is the telling of one’s personal story that is most impactful. Don’t be afraid to share your story, particularly your faith journey. You never know who needs to hear it.

DON’T OVERLOOK HOLY WEEK

Next weekend begins the most important week of our liturgical year. On that weekend, we will celebrate PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD. This is the time when Jesus is proclaimed as priest and victim, prophet and God, King and Lord. As the Gospel reading of the day, we experience the Passion of Our Lord. It can be quite moving, especially when the congregation shouts “Crucify Him!”. I know that personally I feel so conflicted about that. On one hand, I am living in a “hindsight is 20/20” world. I know that if the Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross, we would not have been redeemed from our sins. (The people of his day certainly did not have this insight.) On the other hand, I love Jesus with all my heart and soul and to ask for his crucifixion is devastating.

This scenario reminds me of the prologue of Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. If you found out that your son could be sacrificed for a medical cure that would save the world, would you do it? What parent can make that kind of a choice? Well, apparently God the Father did. Pretty powerful, right? And the other part of the equation is pretty powerful as well. Why would Jesus allow himself to “go through with it”?

I think it puts the whole “GOD LOVES ME” in perspective, doesn’t it?

So, one last thing about Palm Sunday before I move on. I want to invite you to come on Sunday night to experience the Passion Play that is acted out by members of our Spanish-speaking community. Yes, the dialogue is in Spanish, but I think the story tells itself quite well even without words. It will be presented in the Parish Center parking lot at 6 p.m. All are welcome.

On Tuesday, you are encouraged to come to our TAIZE MEDITATIVE PRAYER SERVICE at 7 p.m. Taize worship is a prayer service consisting of meditative singing and periods of silence in order to reach a contemplative state. During this service, the environment is filled with candles in a darkened church. You will feel so calm and centered by the end of the service. It puts you in a grounded place as you approach the Sacred Paschal Triduum.

The Triduum is a single feast, the Paschal Mystery and they are the three most solemn days of the liturgical year: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil. If there were ever three days that Christians should want to go to

Church to pray, it would be the Triduum. These days are meant to be celebrated with the community at liturgy and are referred to as our “pilgrimage feast” when we ought to make a pilgrimage from our homes to church to commemorate and honor how the Lord Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends, and for our salvation.

Please make it a top priority to go to church to celebrate the Triduum this year. Reserve the time. Rearrange your schedule if necessary. Take some personal time off from work. Suspend errands or jobs around the house. Drop everything. Plan to attend the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the Passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. These days may not be Holy Days of Obligation, but none are more important.

And I promise you that if you attend these sacred services, your faith will be increased. You will not be the same person spiritually that you are today. I have printed the Holy Week schedule in this week’s bulletin for planning purposes.

Our parish motto is Gather, Worship, Share, Transform. These three days offer the opportunity to experience all of those elements.

Happiest Place on Earth?

No, I’m not inviting you to go to Disneyland… Actually, that might make a fun parish adventure… Hmm… OK, sorry. All kidding aside…

I’m talking about our parish (with a little bit of poetic license). We have some really great things happening right here at St. Mary’s!

Two weeks ago, we hosted a concert featuring Renée Bondi. She is a quadriplegic (following a bizarre accident 27 years ago) who trusted in the Lord and He proved to be faithful! He gave her a life she never anticipated and she has been richly blessed. She shared her testimony, told with tongue in cheek and some comic relief, with close to 100 of our parishioners and friends from other communities. And with the voice of an angel, she shared God’s message of Mercy and Forgiveness with a moving meditation. She had us in the palm of her hand.

While the event was arranged and hosted by the Stewardship Team, the cookies and lemonade were hosted by our ladies of the Altar Society. There was even an impromptu set-up team from a prior event. I am seeing more and more cooperation and coming together of our various groups in the parish. This is what we’re about as a parish—a faith community, a faith family. I am very grateful to all who helped with this special event.

Just two days after the concert, our parish hosted a Lenten Penance Service to share God’s Mercy during this holy season. Many people came together to arrange the service and to host an evening meal and fellowship for eight priests prior to the liturgy. Our priests lead such intense lives within their own parishes that they look forward to opportunities to get together as friends. Thank you to all who helped with the process.

(If you were unable to make it to our service, be sure to refer to the Reconciliation Services available in other parishes during the season of Lent. )

This past weekend, our parish was bustling! Our Altar Society held a two-day Rummage Sale in the Star of the Sea Center that was successful because of our parishioners

who donated items for sale and/or came to purchase lots of goodies.

And on Sunday, we were treated to a Gran Kermess after Mass. Who can turn down a fresh carne asada taco and an agua fresca? And the music…so lively and happy. Even a short visit makes for a good time.

The common theme here is that it is through cooperation and team-work that good things are happening at our parish. We need to continue to support each other’s events and ministries as much as possible. You can already see the results just by looking around you.

Through your on-going generosity, we have enough funds in our designated Major Maintenance account to accomplish some much-needed projects. We have just replaced the fascia, many of the exterior rafters, and the rain gutters on the Juan Diego/Guadalupe building. The frame around the garage door will complete the project.

And the best news of all… We are having the Star of the Sea Center sewer replaced from the drinking fountain to the property line. This will permanently fix our plumbing issues! YEAH! The building will still be used during the project; we will have porta-potties for your use. Thank you for your continued support!