SPRING CLEANING

Even though we live in sunny Southern California, we still have a period of winter “hibernation”.  Even though we don’t experience the seasons like in other parts of the country, we still have a “rebirth” when the sun is out and the temperatures are higher.

When these changes occur, something stirs within: the desire to tackle that dust we suddenly notice in places we seldom look. And those windows smeared with winter’s muck? And that disorganized closet? There’s a reason our grandmothers called it “spring housecleaning.” The season brings an almost physical desire to get out the mop.

Surprisingly, for the Christian steward, this can actually be a spiritual impulse.

There’s something intrinsically renewing and revitalizing about cleaning. Everything done with a prayerful heart can lead us closer to God, and cleaning, often a solitary and contemplative task, can definitely include prayer.

You might plan to begin your cleaning with prayer, and play music that lifts your spirit as you work.

Start with a closet. Open your heart to what it tells you about how blessed you are materially. But observe the consumerism a closet can reveal. As you examine each item of apparel, remember and thank God for the graces of the occasion: a wedding, a graduation, a vacation. Enjoy “shopping” in your own closet for items you’ve forgotten about. Pare down what you no longer need or what you feel called to share. Wash, mend, iron and select a place where your items may find a good home.

Many cities have refugee closets, and many nonprofits have thrift stores which support them.  St. Vincent de Paul shops serve the poor with inexpensive used items. Pray for those with whom you are about to share. Resolve to put your newly reorganized items to work for you and not rush out to buy more.

And those windows? Does anything lift the spirit like a clean window after a long winter? As you polish those panes of glass, pray about where your own inner life could use a cleaning.

Perhaps you don’t make it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as you’d like. Use your quiet window cleaning time to examine the graces and challenges of your life. Thank God for the many blessings and be honest about failings.

And that ubiquitous dust? It promises to return, afflicts the rich and the poor. It’s a sign of our universal connection to the earth and the environment, a reminder of our own mortality. Even the dust we clean can be lifted up to God with a thank you from a steward’s grateful heart.

Don’t forget to look outside yourself as well to the outside.  Clean out those fallen leaves, trim back plants that didn’t make it through the winter, turn your sprinklers back on so your spring and summer yard can flourish.

Take this time—this long weekend is just the time to start—to look around you (and in you) and polish up the dirty corners!

 

 

WELCOME THE HOLY SPIRIT

This year, the Church celebrates the great feast of Pentecost on May 20. As recounted in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Pentecost occurred when the followers of Jesus were clustered together in a room and were suddenly surprised – overtaken is not too strong a word – by the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. Strong wind and flame seemed to sweep the room, and the Apostles were so filled with the gifts of the Spirit that they emerged to speak in multiple languages to the throngs who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate a Jewish festival.

In our secular culture, Pentecost goes largely unobserved. “Pentecost” cards don’t pop up on store shelves weeks in advance, and there’s no merchandising that remotely compares to Easter and Christmas.

Yet make no mistake. To Christians, Pentecost is a great celebration, sometimes called the birthday of the Church. The word Pentecost has its roots in the Greek word for “fifty;” Pentecost comes fifty days after the Resurrection on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

Why was Pentecost such a watershed event in the life of the Church? As Christian stewards, we know we are called to be missionary disciples. This calling has its roots in the momentous events of Pentecost.

Up until that time, the followers of Jesus were still a somewhat disorganized band of believers, still in shock over the events of the crucifixion, still confused about the meaning of the sightings of the Risen Lord. Pentecost abruptly and forever changed that. Suddenly, missionary disciples were born, followers both called and sent forth. Like us, they were called together, in community. They became aware that their great mission was to reach, not just their

Jewish brothers and sisters in Palestine, but the disparate crowds who visited Jerusalem and beyond.

Like us, they were called to bring Jesus to the world. The Holy Spirit brought courage to replace fear, understanding to replace confusion, faith to replace doubt. The same Holy Spirit moves in our own lives, perhaps not always with the drama of that first Pentecost, but with the same grace.

The Spirit calls us within our Church community to share Jesus with others, just as the disciples were called. Let’s celebrate Pentecost this year as heirs to this great moment in the life of our Church, as stewards inspired to be missionary disciples for the life of the world.

 

 

 

A Blessed Mothers Day

I remember as a young girl being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Without hesitation, I answered that I wanted to be a wife and a mother.

I think part of that came from the vibe of the 50’s and 60’s with stay-at-home moms who vacuumed wearing pearls (just kidding!), sewed kitchen curtains, cooked all meals from scratch (except the once-a-month tv dinner).

And part of it came from my mom personally who, by her actions, showed me how valuable a mother could be in a child’s life.

As I grew older, I aspired to being a culinary scientist or a math teacher.  But at the same time, I still had the burning desire/need to be a mom.

After I got married—quite young—we decided to spend some time getting to know each other.  One year turned into two, into five, into ten.  Finally I couldn’t deny the calling to be a mother, and we started our family.

I remember being asked how I could bring another human being into the mess of today’s world.  (Little did they know that it was going to get a lot messier.)

My heartfelt response was that I thought the world would always have its issues, and I wanted to add one more human being who could be part of the solution.

I set about to raise people of faith and good moral standing who could think for themselves and have a desire to make their lives and those around them better.

I will borrow the words my mother said to me once, because they are true for me as well:  “I did the best I could and I prayed a lot.”  There’s a good chance that you would agree.

Both of my children had meandering paths (I’ve talked about it before), but they always came back around to what is right and what is good.  And they never lost track of the value of family.

I love being a mom.  I would do anything for my children.  They are both adults with spouses (who are wonderful people), careers, real lives.   I wasn’t sure how much better it could get.

Until. I. Became. A. Grandparent!

Neal Finnegan McGrane entered my life 10 months ago and I have cherished every moment I share with him.   He has brought me such joy and a fullness that I could have never imagined.

My daughter would like a sibling for Neal and asked me if it was hard to juggle two children!  Oh yeah!  My children were 17.5 month apart.  Two in diapers, two with bottles, two in a stroller.  And yet, I couldn’t have been happier.

I was told a long time ago that our children are on loan to us.  They belong to God and He has entrusted their care to us.  I want to wish every mother, grandmother, mother-to-be a Blessed Mother’s Day.   As women, we have a special role to be part of the miracle of life.  I pray that moms value what a gift it is to be blessed with such a miracle.

 

 

 

A LETTER FROM OUR PASTOR

My Dear Parish Family,

I’m very happy to be able to greet you once again through this letter.  Last November I shared with you the situation our parish was facing and also the vision I had for the first pastoral year.   The first order of business,  because we were spending more than what we were receiving, was to stabilize the financial situation of the parish.   The second priority was to make some changes in the church to bring it back to its original historical form.

Thanks to the efforts of our staff, the wisdom of our finance council and your generosity, we were able to make our income greater than our expenses.  In the church we were able to return the statues of Our Lady and The Sacred Heart to their original places, to remove the black arch from the sanctuary, and replace the lights and toilets in the church to make everything more efficient.  These are some items that are left to do in the next few months:

  • Finish the reorganization of our staff. This was one of the main suggestions we had from our diocesan audit review and even though this has been very difficult, with God’s help, we will be able to reduce our spending budget for next fiscal year (July 2018 to June 2019) by approximately 25% to 30%.
  • Now that the black arch has been removed, we need to repair and repaint the wall behind the crucifix. Currently it is purple, but I would like to paint it back to its original color.  I believe it’s time to form a committee that may help with the preservation of our church.  If any of you are interested and have an ability or experience in this area, please call the office and provide your contact information.
  • And finally the most important thing for me as your pastor is to create a Family Life and Spirituality office in our parish. This will be what will move the parish life because it includes everyone.  We all come or belong to one family and as your pastor, I wish that not only the ones I see in Mass every Sunday are well but also the ones that I don’t see often.  I wish that your children, grandchildren and everyone in general understand that this is not only your parish but your home and that it will always be open for you so that we may all continue the mission God has intended for us in this world.

I am very grateful to our Lord for the great finance council he has established in our parish.  Generally we are asked to have 4 meetings a year but I think we have had like 20!  With their help and the help of other experts, we are planning the renovation of our parish buildings and this includes our school.  This is a big project and it is planned to be developed in the next 4 years.  We still need to finalize these projects and present them to our Diocese and I hopefully by June or July we can present it to you and hear your opinions.   And in a very special way I would like to thank all of you for all your support.  Sincerely this has been a very difficult mission for me.  I’ve had to ask God for lots of discernment so that I could follow His will and it could be for the good of everyone and one day guide us to eternal life.  Please continue to pray for me because like Popeye’s spinach, it makes me strong.

 

Sincerely in Christ’s Love,

Fr. G