STEWARDSHIP AND PUBLIC LIFE: Bringing the Good News to All Creation

 

With the presidential election upon us, it is more important than ever for mature Catholics to be mindful of their responsibilities to exercise good stewardship over their neighborhoods, communities and society by participation in the public life of our country. Jesus said that we, his disciples, are the light of the world. We must not hide that light under a bushel basket (see Matthew 5:16) or in the privacy of our homes or in a church building. We must let it shine so that all men and women can see it. Stewards understand that living out their faith in public life is part of their responsibility to go into the world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15); and that their relationship with Jesus Christ and their desire to please him should inform all of their moral decisions, including how they participate in public life and how they vote.

A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, this document continues a tradition by the bishops of encouraging Catholics to use the values of their faith to shape their participation in political life.

How should stewards exercise their responsibilities as citizens? One way of course, is to inform themselves of the political issues of the day and to vote. Voting is literally the least one can do to promote Gospel values in our communities, state and nation. Stewards are not found wanting in this vital area of their stewardship. The teachings of the church help us understand our responsibility to make informed choices about issues that concern our society and world, especially as it relates to peace and justice and the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers. The bishops of the United States have again provided important guidance through their statement: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship:

It focuses on helping Catholics form their consciences so they can make sound moral judgments about public choices. Visit www.faithfulcitizenship.org.

Stewards commit to prayer, reflection and discussion among others in their community of faith about how to bring the Gospel to public life. They believe in continued conscience formation and conversion, take the teachings of the Church seriously, and keep themselves informed on the political issues of the day. Stewards also strive to make prudent choices, vote and encourage others to vote. These are just a few of the ways stewards can help bring the Good News to all creation.

Remember, that whatever your political affiliation,  you need to make a decision based on research and PRAYER!

 

CALLED TO MERCY

I am not “into” dream interpretation, but I do believe that our subconscious thoughts manifest themselves in our dreams.  With that being said…  I had the strangest dream the other night.

I dreamed that I was attending a college class (in person, not on-line) and had an assignment due.   WAIT!  Was this a dream or a nightmare?

Of course, the assignment wasn’t ready for submission.  I had spent a lot of time on research, et cetera, but had not written THE PAPER.  I’ll be honest with you.  I am a true Virgo and I procrastinate (which literally means “for tomorrow”).  So my dream was pretty believable so far.

I decided to go to class anyway and Face The Music.  It was in one of those big lecture halls.  After everyone was seated, the professor asked the students to bring forward their assignments.  I raised my hand and, with shame on my face, admitted that I did not have the assignment.  I was prepared to be further shamed and humiliated in front of the class.  His response took me off guard.  Rather than pointing out my shortcomings, he gently asked if I had done any work on the project.  I explained to him that I had done all the background work and just didn’t write the actual paper.  He said “I understand that we all get distracted sometimes and I will forgive this.  Go home now, complete the paper, submit it tomorrow, and do better next time.”

When I wakened and thought about the dream, I remembered the Gospel I heard just a few weeks ago about the Prodigal Son.

Remember I keep saying that there are certain lessons we must learn and they’ll keep coming around for us?   The lessons are plain as day—we just need to be cognizant of the signs.

On Saturday, Sept. 9, I attended the presentation on MERCY given by Bishop Emeritus Robert Brom.  He was so inspiring.  He is a very learned man, but is quite charming and told some wonderful stories! During his presentation, he talked about The Prodigal Son.

Then, because it was Covenant Weekend, I attended all five of the English-Speaking Masses on Saturday and Sunday.  Do you remember the Gospel reading?  It was The Prodigal Son!

Clearly, this is an important lesson for all of us.  MERCY.  God, our loving and merciful Father, gives us chance after chance to get our act together.  And when we come to Him day after day “with our assignment incomplete”, He gives us another chance and reminds that He loves us and believes in us.

I remember when my children were young and Rachel was studying to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.  I had an epiphany and from that time on I was willing to admit that, even as a parent, I could be wrong sometimes.  It usually had to do with overreacting about something they did.  I would apologize for the overreaction, ask them for their mercy and understanding,  and  then continue to address the incident.

In the one version of the Act of Contrition, we say “I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance,  sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to make wrong choices”.

God wants us to succeed.  He doesn’t care how much money we make, or what car we drive, or how many people we supervise at our jobs.

He wants us to succeed in our lives as good and faithful servants; good people with pure hearts; good people with pure hearts who are merciful to those around them and themselves.  (Sometimes we can be very hard on ourselves.)  Look at the signs all around you.  You are being called to be merciful.  Beginning today.

The Circuitous Path

When my son, Jens, was a little guy, he spent a lot of time with my Daddy—”Papa”.  Papa was a gentle soul.  He taught his grandson how to be a real man but how to maintain his caring demeanor at the same time.

Even though Daddy had retired from a career in the Marine Corps long before Jens was born,  he was a proud Marine the rest of his life.

Jens emulated quite a lot of what he saw in Papa’s example of living.  He considered the ROTC in high school but was snatched up by the track team instead.   BTW, he lettered in the long jump in his sophomore year!  (No, I’m not at all embarrassed to be a proud Mama…)

He graduated from high school and attended a trade school to become an auto mechanic. Even though he’s really intelligent, he knew he wasn’t the academic type but wanted a skill with which he could support a family.

Over the years, he has several times revisited the idea of joining the Armed Services.  Each time, for one reason or another, he has chosen a different path.  Remember I said recently that if you don’t learn the lesson you keep repeating it?

Two years ago, Jens and his then-fiancé moved to the East Coast to live with her parents while she earned a BA.  Well, that was their plan.  She couldn’t get into the college, and the housing arrangement fell apart.  And…

And God had a different plan for them.  They only stayed there for five months.  But during that time, Jens shared a very meaningful relationship with his future father-in-law.  Joe is a career Marine and stationed at the Pentagon.  Joe mentored him in much the same way that Papa did when he was young.

Jens came back to California resolved to join the military.  Because he is now 30, the Marines were not an option, so my boy will be a proud Sailor.  He tested very high on the entrance test and will be trained to be an Advanced IT Specialist.  I’m quite certain that he wouldn’t have done so well if he had joined earlier.

Last weekend, we all had the opportunity to renew our Covenant with God.  This is our time to reassess our commitment to our Faith Journey.  “What do I want out of my relationship with God?”  “Do I HAVE a relationship with God?”  “How can I share my faith, my gifts and talents, with those around me?”

I look at my son’s life journey.  What I see is that he knew all along what he wanted.  He allowed himself to be taken here and there on other paths.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that the circuitous route we take is often God’s plan exactly.  There are lessons to be learned along the way that have led us to this exact place and time.

Don’t be afraid to surrender yourself to God’s will.  I tell people all the time that I don’t have the answers.  But I do know this one: God knows what’s best for us.  Listen. Heed the signs.  They’re there right in front of you.   We so often are sure that we have it all figured out for ourselves and we overlook the obvious prompting of the Holy Spirit.

If you didn’t complete a Covenant last weekend, I encourage you to consider taking the time to do it now.  No one with ever see it except you.  It will be mailed back to you next summer and you will be able to review your commitments.   In two weeks, the Covenant chest will be moved under the back altar where it will remain in the sanctuary all year as a reminder to you of your promises to God.

 

 

 

9/11 REMEMBERED

 

Fifteen years ago, the continuing TV coverage of the imploding twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York was unbearable for me, as were accounts of the crashes and destruction in Washington and the hills of Pennsylvania. The immense devastation of human life was incomprehensible. Visiting the site in New York some five years later reopened searing wounds, and overwhelmed me with immense sadness. An incursion on our soil, carefully planned and executed by foreign elements, had shattered my cherished sense of security, and provoked a frightening sense of God’s absence.

How could my Catholic faith tradition enable me to endure this tragedy? I knew that neither vengeance nor sweeping animosity was an option for me.

You have left us crushed . . . covered us with darkness.  We are bowed down to the ground (Psalm 44:20, 26).

O Lord of hosts, restore us; Let your face shine upon us (Psalm 80:4).

The Psalmist cries a lament, expressing the mourning of the Israelite people, the chosen of God, who had regarded themselves as untouchable and above reproach, now hurled into misery. The lament expresses a nation’s agony, dares to complain against their divine protector, may even own some complicity in the misery, and finally pleads with God for deliverance.

In the midst of lamenting, the faith of Israel endured, as must ours. We are as vulnerable as they were to the violence and hatred that seem to encircle us. Our demand for a divine explanation goes unheeded. Yet we have learned of the self-sacrificing heroism of many, witnessing to the finest character of our nation and of our Christian heritage. Dying for one’s friends is a sacred theme in our story, epitomized in Jesus, our Savior, and extended through centuries in the grandest and noblest acts of men and women in all circumstances.

In 2001 we came together as one nation under God, sharing the grief, the disillusionment, and the promise to rebuild. As today we lament our honored dead and wounded, shall we translate such agonizing emotion into a persistent pursuit of worldwide reconciliation and peace?

This article was written for J.S. Paluch by Rev. Andrew Nelson.

 

I was advised in my early thirties by a counselor that we all have certain life lessons that we need to learn/complete.  If we don’t get them the first time around, they will revisit us again.  And again.  And again.  The reason I tell you this is because I have noticed a recurring theme of mine lately: get your life in order.  Is it speaking to me or am I meant to share it for the benefit of someone reading this page?  9/11 brings home the message that we don’t know the hour or the day.  Be ready to leave behind “a clean house” and meet your Maker with a clean conscience.

 

 

Don’t Forget To Pray!

I always thought my Mom was a great mother.  She seemed to have such wisdom in how she parented her three daughters.

One day, when I was a parent myself and having a difficult time with a situation, I asked my Mom how she had always managed to know the answers.  She said she didn’t always know the answers; she prayed a lot and did the best she could.

I never asked her what exactly she said when she prayed, but it may have been something like this:

Dear Lord,

Thank You for my children. I know they are a gift from You.  Daily I need Your strength and wisdom to train them in the way they should go.  Give me patience and a joyful heart; let me be an example of Your love and forgiveness.  Thank You, Father, for the honor of being a parent.  Amen.

As I look back on her response, it was great advice for parenting, but also for getting through life.

Take a minute to think about it..  PRAY A LOT AND DO THE BEST YOU CAN.  

I always remind myself that the formal prayers that are written in books were written by people like you and me.  Everyday people with everyday thoughts.

It’s not as much WHAT you pray, but THAT you pray.  It’s including God in your life on a daily basis and having conversations with Him throughout the day.    He’s like any parent, mentor, friend; remember to ask advice and to thank Him for the counsel.   I always have to remind myself that my plan isn’t necessarily God’s plan.

THE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred,  let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is dispair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Dear Lord,

Help me remember what a difference it makes when I make time with You a priority in my morning. Awaken me in body and spirit each day with a desire to meet with You and to hear You speak words of affirmation, assurance and wisdom over my heart as I prepare to go into my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 Dear Lord,

I don’t know who or what will cross my path today. But I do know that You are my Rock and my Fortress. You are my Shield and my Strong Tower. Help me to anchor myself to You today. Teach me how to stand strong in You and choose only Your way today. Help me walk by Your truth and not my feelings.

Help me to embrace anything that comes my way as an opportunity to see You at work and as an opportunity to point others to You.

Thank You that You love me and nothing can ever take that away from me! Even if I fail today and fall short, You whisper Your unconditional love deep into my soul and remind me that Your mercies are new every morning.  That truly amazes me, Lord.

Thank You for meeting with me today. Would You wake me again tomorrow with the same sweet whisper of Your love? I can’t wait to meet with You again. In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.