Do You Know Any “Inquirers”?

Perhaps you have attended mass but never were baptized or received into the Church. Maybe you know someone who is looking for God in their life. All are invited to join the RCIA process through which a person can inquire about what we believe as Catholics and then make a decision about whether to seek initiation into the Church.

Call Patty at the office to learn more. We are just beginning a new cycle and now is the perfect time! No commitment assumed or necessary to call!

School Advisory Council

Looking for Parish Representative!

The structure of the School Advisory Council allows for two parishioners to serve as Parish Representatives. If you have a special interest in the school and would like to help optimize its potential, please submit a letter of interest to the pastor by July 15.

LOOK BEYOND YOURSELF

The Corporal Works of Mercy:

Feed the Hungry; Give Drink to the Thirsty; Shelter the Homeless; Clothe the Naked; Visit the Sick; Visit the Imprisoned; Bury the Dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Correct the Sinner; Instruct the Ignorant; Counsel the Doubting; Comfort the Sorrowful; Be Patient With Those In Error; Forgive Offenses; Pray for the Living & the Dead

 

Many times I have spoken of the power and blessings of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy—for those who receive them and also for those who bestow them.    They bear repeating, because they are such an important part of who we are as Christians.

We are most certainly not able to do all of those things all the time.  I don’t think we’re being asked to.   But I do believe we are asked to consciously reach out beyond ourselves to those in need.

My mother was a very wise woman.  She many times said to me “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I always understood the general idea, but I was an adult before I had a true understanding of what she was trying to say.  But the reality is that I didn’t REALLY understand it until recently.

Working in a downtown church office, we’ve “seen it all”.  We get people from every walk of life stopping in to see us.    We can’t help everyone.  I have a “service temperament” and that’s hard for me.  I always want to help and fix.  But I can’t.  What I CAN do, though, is offer myself.  I try to spend a few minutes with each person and restore some human dignity to them.  Some just need to have someone not scoot them out the door for once!  It’s really amazing sometimes how little it takes to give a person some encouragement.

What seems like a little effort or a little thing to us can mean the world to someone who is in need.  It doesn’t take much time or effort to come once a week to make fresh sandwiches for the homeless.  Or to bring some canned goods to church with you on Sunday.  It doesn’t take much effort to donate blankets or jackets to Brother Benno’s in the cold months.  Even if you yourself are homebound, you can pray for others.

Pay attention to all you have been given.  This includes your God-given talents and charisms and all the blessings you have received during your life.  BE GRATEFUL.  Express your gratitude to God.

It is through our parish’s Feed My People ministry that we help those on the street with sack lunches, bus passes, assistance with prescriptions.   This ministry also allows us to provide groceries each month to families with homes and cooking facilities.

However, our designated funds for our Outreach Programs  are depleted.  We are now forced to cut back on the help we are able to offer.    If you are able to make a monetary gift, please mark it as “For the Poor” and we will guarantee that it will be used for that purpose.

Pray intentionally for the continuance of our outreach programs and also to ask God to give you direction on how best to support our programs.   You will be amazed at the GRACE OF GOD that you will receive as well as those your efforts benefit.

 

AN EVERY-DAY STEWARD

Since I have talked about everyone else in my family, it would not be right to let Fathers Day go by without talking about my daddy.

He was a perfect example of living Stewardship in his everyday life.

We moved to Oceanside in 1959.  We immediately registered here at St. Mary’s.  Daddy joined the Holy Name Society.  One of their primary functions was to provide ushers at all the Masses.  For forty-four years—from August of 1959 until just a few months before his death in August 2003, Daddy ushered at the first Mass every Sunday.

I can remember when my children were small and I wanted to attend the 5 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve.  My parents came with me but also attended the first Mass on Christmas Day because Daddy had a commitment to usher.

I remember watching him spend a    Saturday at the school repairing lunch tables.  And later when I was in high school,  seeing him oversee the building of sets for our musical productions (even though I wasn’t even in the Theater Arts program).

Just for the record, my mom was every bit a good Steward as was my daddy.   She sewed costumes, ran booths during school events, helped in the CCD program, hand-sewed altar linens, and even made the satin drape that is still used on the Altar of Repose on Holy Thursday.

Needless to say, I learned about giving back from a very early age.  Daddy was in charge of the family’s finances.  Every month, when he got paid, he would cash his check at the bank, come home, and fill that month’s tithing envelopes with his donation.  It was always the first obligation he fulfilled.  Off the top.

Daddy was also a good steward to our family.  He got up every morning at 6 a.m. and made a hot meal for his family.  He would then wake us up at 6:30, eat breakfast with us, and then get ready for work.  EVERY MORNING.  Even on weekends, he took care of us as his first “task” of the day.  We were that important to him.   (It’s a very funny family story about how this tradition came to be.  If you ask me some time, I will share it with you.)

When Daddy was fighting the War in the South Pacific, he contracted malaria and spent several months in a field hospital.  He was taught how to cross-stitch as a way to pass the time.  Some time in my very early childhood, he made a cross-stitch of the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep prayer.  It hung in the bedroom that I shared with my sister, Sally, until we were teens and replaced it with posters.  When she had her daughter, she retrieved the cross-stitch from the garage and hung it in her daughter’s nursery.   When I had Rachel two years later, she made a new one for Rachel because she was still using the original one.   She just recently asked me if I would like to hang it in my grandchild’s nursery!  You betcha!  Looking at it today, I can picture my sweet gentle daddy working on the prayer to hang in our bedroom.  (He wasn’t even a Catholic then!)

 

It was because of all these things—and so many more—that I was moved to write the following poem for him on Fathers Day 1988.

Ever since I was your little pal and I followed you around like a shadow, you’ve been the most important man in my life.

 That’s why, when you praise me, it’s like a gift from heaven.  And when you criticize or disapprove, it crushes me to the bone.  Your disapproval wouldn’t hurt me if I didn’t love you like I do.

 I may look like an adult, and talk like one, and shoulder the responsibilities of an adult.

 

But so     Sometimes, all I want to do is return to the safe and loving world of my childhood…when you were my Daddy and I was Daddy’s little girl.

 

 I have said it before, and it bears repeating:  You have an impact on the lives of other people.  Positive or negative.  Even if you are not a parent, you can still be a positive role model in someone’s life.  Whether you are a Scout leader, a Room Parent at school, a CCD teacher, an uncle (or aunt), a good neighbor, there are opportunities every day to make a difference.  Keep your eyes and your heart open and pray for guidance.

 

 

An Example in Tithing

As you must have realized from last week’s bulletin, I just returned from almost two weeks away.   I spent most of the time in the mountains of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

Along the way, we stopped at the Zuni Pueblo.  We had visited the Pueblo about ten years ago.  My boyfriend had purchased matching bear fetishes for us.  For years, he carried his in his pocket and I carried mine in my purse.  Mine was finally lost and his broke in half.  Oddly, he had kept the artisan’s business card and had joked that we could go back and purchase another set if “we were ever in the neighborhood”.  Well, we did find ourselves in the vicinity, and drove to the Old Mission Church in the center of town.  When we asked for him,  someone ran to his house and brought him to us.  He had two fetishes that were carved but not engraved.  We bought them unfinished because the engraving eventually wore off anyway!   The strangest thing is that no one thought it was the least bit odd that we’d show up to see the same artisan again…

When we first arrived, we were having a little trouble finding the church.  We came upon a young woman who graciously told us the way.  She then met us at the church, helped us find our artisan friend, and then offered to show us around.  Romelia had been born and raised in the Zuni Pueblo.  She had inherited her father’s artisan tools and was carrying on his craft out of love and respect for him.  During our conversation, we asked about their tradition of offering food to their ancestors.  She explained that, at every meal, before the family can eat, a portion is set aside as an offering to the family’s deceased members.  At the end of each day, the offering is burned in a special ceremonial fire.

The people living in the Pueblo are very poor.  They exist on the money they receive from their art.  They try to sell direct to visitors, but as a last resort they sell to the stores and make a portion of its value.

Because they are so poor, food is precious.  It is very significant that they set aside a portion—off the top—to honor their ancestors.

Later in the day, I was reflecting on what I had learned from Romelia.  It occurred to me that it was very much an act of tithing.  When we tithe, we give the first and the best to God with no concern that we will not be blessed.

Every culture, every religion has a slightly different view of tithing.  The Mormons believe you should give 10% of your gross income to the church.

The Catholic model is to give 5% to your parish church and another 5% to the church at-large (your Diocese, Catholic charities, Pro-Life organizations, etc.)

However you look at tithing, the essence of it remains that same.  Give the best fruits of your labor off the top and you will be richly blessed.

 

I hope you’ve had an opportunity to read the financial reports that were sent to your home at Easter.  They contained information on our income, expenses, and use of designated gifts.  Our parish is funded exclusively by your generosity.  We are grateful and responsible stewards of your treasure.  If you have any questions, please feel free to meet with me.

 

 

 

 

GO AND TEACH ALL NATIONS

 

Today is Pentecost Sunday.  Today we remember Jesus’ challenge to Go and Teach All Nations – to Evangelize.  But how do we do that?

As with all aspects of your life experience, you can teach by your example.  Others will see you living your faith—acting in a Christian manner to those you encounter.  I’m not just talking about your friends and family, I’m also referring to the person who is rude to you, the person who is asking for assistance, the person who talks too much and drives you crazy.  I know it has been overused, but let me refer back to “WWJD?”

You can evangelize by living your faith openly.  Go to Mass on a regular basis.  Spend time with the Lord in  Eucharistic Adoration. Become a member of our Visitors for Christ or Legion of Mary and bring Catholic/parish materials to homes in a neighborhood.  You can take a copy of the Southern Cross (our Diocesan newspaper) and share it with a friend.

You can be a catechist; a teacher or helper in the Faith Formation (CCD) program.   Or, you could assist in the RCIA process.

Do you remember how you became a Catholic?  Were you baptized as an infant or young child and only remember the experience from the pictures in the photo album?   Many of our practicing Catholics have made  the choice to become a Catholic as an  adult.   Maybe even the person sitting beside you in the pew is a convert…

But to become a Catholic as an adult, a person must enter through the RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

Prior to formally beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church.   This time period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some people, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, it is a shorter time.

After conversation with an advisor or spiritual guide, the person, known as an “inquirer,” may decide to continue the process and seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. The local parish assembly affirms his or her wish to become a baptized member of our church and the inquirer then becomes a “catechumen.”

The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a much shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions and obstacles they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this faith journey. During this time the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they want to make to respond to God’s inspiration, and what membership in the Catholic Church involves. Catechumens have a special connection to the Church and even though they are not yet baptized, they also have certain rights in the Church.

Every step of the way, someone from our parish walks along with the person in the RCIA process.  The team includes teachers and sponsors.  There are also ancillary roles, such as those helping with hospitality on a recurring basis or for specific events.

Each year our parish welcomes 10-20 adults into the Catholic Church (either through Baptism or Profession of Faith).   It takes many dedicated parishioners to facilitate and assist in this beautiful process.   Anyone who has ever been an RCIA sponsor has felt doubly blessed by walking the path and being exposed to the truths of our faith in a fresh light.

I ask you to prayerfully consider some level of involved in the RCIA.  You may wish to discuss the possibilities with Patty Mann.  I’ll be praying for you.