Stewardship Reflections at the Turn of the Year

 

This article was written by Teresa Keogh Advisor for Stewardship Archdiocese of Southwark, U.K.

As I write this we are fast approaching Christmas, a time when few of us have time to ‘take stock’ of what and how we are living.

But January is quieter for many of us – a time when we might have a spare moment to assess where and how we are. Many of us try and make New Year resolutions – and they are often ‘all about me’. I need to be thinner, wealthier, more hard working and so on. And they are often doomed to failure.

I would like to suggest something different this New Year. As stewards we talk about and live gratitude; we strive to make that foundational in our lives. We are thankful for all we have received and we have a great desire to give. But do we make opportunities for others to give? Are we receptive to their giving?

Maria Bolding, an English Benedictine nun who died in 2009, spoke of this in her final illness. She describes herself in the prologue to her last book, Gateway to Resurrection, as “…like a helpless child who has nothing to give except its need.” At that stage in her life she was finally able to accept with gratitude the gifts that others offered her.  She was able to receive.

As we enter this New Year, can we pledge to be open to receiving the gifts that others offer to us? Can we be grateful for these too? Having an attitude of receiving as well as giving will mean that a greater number of people will be able to fully use the gifts that God has given them – and allow each of us to be grateful for a greater range of gifts, not just those we recognize and use, but also those that we receive. In this way we can fully live what Saint John Paul II wrote about in Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium), when he asserted:

“A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a ‘gift for me’” (#43).

 

From Barbie:

I realize that I am writing this before Christmas and you’re reading it after, but I think it might apply to every day, not just Christmas.

I have been talking with several of my friends in the past few days.  Everyone seems overwhelmed this year.  Each of us has had someone wise in their life who has stepped forward and spoken the raw truth:

Your family and friends make the time to get together with you because they love you.  They want to share in your company.  It doesn’t matter if there’s paper plates or china, gifts of no gifts, bare tree or richly decorated.   (Yes, they do appreciate those things, but they don’t matter!)  Get over it and enjoy.

 

STEWARDSHIP SAINT FOR DECEMBER

Saint Fabiola is the patron saint of difficult marriages, divorced persons, abused spouses and victims of unfaithful spouses.

She was a Christian, born in Rome in the mid-4th century to a powerful and wealthy family. She was married off at a young age to an abusive and adulterous husband.

Saint Jerome, the most famous biblical scholar in the history of the Church, knew her personally, as he was her teacher and spiritual director. He wrote: “So terrible were the faults imputed to her former husband that not even a prostitute or a common slave could have put up with them.”

Fabiola was able to secure a divorce from her husband under Roman civil law, and then she remarried, violating the ordinances of the Church.

While she was still young, Fabiola’s ex-husband died, followed shortly thereafter by her second husband. Upon the latter’s death, she appeared before the gates of Saint John Lateran Basilica, dressed in penitential garb and sought forgiveness for marrying outside the Church.

Her public plea for reconciliation was said to have made a great impression upon the Christian population of Rome, and the pope received her formally again into full communion with the Church.

Fabiola devoted her immense wealth to the needs of the poor, the sick and the homeless of Rome. She became a physician and practiced medicine, treating patients with illnesses other physicians would avoid. She also supported the needs of the Church and parish communities throughout Italy.

In 395 Fabiola made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, experience which deepened her faith even more dramatically. She lived in a hospice for a time with a religious community, spent hours in prayer, performed menial tasks and cultivated a profound devotion to the simplicity and poverty of the Nativity.

When she returned to Rome, Fabiola sold all her belongings and co-founded what is known to be the first hospital in the Western world.

Saint Jerome later wrote that this innovative institution became famous from Britain to Parthia (modern day Iran). And she continued to work tirelessly to treat patients that no one else would treat.

Fabiola died on December 27, 399, of natural causes, and her death was marked by an enormous procession befitting a state funeral. Roman citizens turned out by the thousands to express their gratitude for the life and ministry she had embraced in the city of Rome. Her feast day is December 27th.

 

 

 

BE PREPARED (A Lesson Learned)

I learned a valuable lesson last week that I would like to share with you.

I live a well-ordered life.  If you know me at all, that would probably come as a surprise to you.  NOT!  I know what’s expected of me, where I am supposed to be at any given time, etc.  I always clean my house before I go on vacation so I can return and not be frazzled by a mess.

So, around noon on the 7th, someone called the office and told us that there was a fire in Fallbrook.  Within a few hours, most our staff had gone home to prepare for possible evacuation.   I was never forced to evacuate my home, but I was on alert, because the fire was moving very quickly.

The first thing I did when I got home was to get my cats prepared to leave.

Next I gathered my important papers—insurance, passport, birth certificate, household inventory.  These items were all in my closet, but scattered here and there.

Next I packed a change of clothes and toiletries, and finally the photo albums.

I guess everyone has a different order as they go through their priorities, but this was mine.

I packed all these items in the car and left it outside in the driveway (in case of loss of power) ready to go.   The small safe, my purse, and the cats remained by the front door.  I stayed up all night, dosing—fully dressed—in the living room.  The tv keep me informed.  I went outside every half hour to look at the sky.  I was able to see actual flames that, for many hours, continued to get closer!

By Friday afternoon, I felt comfortable enough to unpack my car.

I decided that it would be silly to take all the papers out of the box and put them in various locations.  They now will remain together—ready to go.  After all, we should always be ready for an earthquake.  Right?

I also made a list of all the items that were important to me.  Last week I had time to think things through—next time might happen much more quickly.

OK, thank you for your patience.  The lesson I learned was much more important than how to pack my car for evacuation.

It was how to be prepared spiritually.  And how appropriate that this happened during Advent when we are preparing ourselves for the Coming of the Lord?

If you were given one year to live, what would you work on in your faith life to be ready?  Would you go to confession?    Start attending Mass ever week?  Give to charity?

What if you were told that you only had a month?  A week?  A day?

What if you had NO time to prepare.  In the analogy of our recent fires, imagine that you were told to evacuate immediately with only the clothes on your back.   Are you comfortable with that?

I would guess that most of us need a little time to get things in order.  Why not start now?

Being Good Stewards of Our Personal Vocations

Leisa Anslinger, an internationally-known force in Stewardship, wrote the following:

To commit ourselves to live as disciples who steward our many gifts and blessings involves every facet of our lives.

We will experience God’s call differently in distinct moments of our lives. At times, we may recognize the call to give our time sacrificially; at other times, our treasure. In some moments, we may discern a call to active service among the poor, ill, or imprisoned; in other moments, our stewardship may be of prayer or the sharing of faith. In all of these times and circumstances, we follow Jesus Christ, and learn to embrace his way of self-giving love.

The young creature in the stall of Bethlehem was a human being with human brain and heart and soul. And it was God. Its life was to manifest the will of the Father; to proclaim the sacred tidings, to stir mankind with the power of God, to establish the Covenant, and shoulder the sin of the world, expiating it with love and leading mankind through the destruction of sacrifice and the victory of the Resurrection into the new existence of grace.

In this accomplishment alone lay Jesus’ self-perfection: fulfillment of mission and personal fulfillment were one (Romano Guardini, quoted in Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, p. 23).

In previous articles in this column, we have explored the call to discern and live out our vocation, the life vocation that each of us has, and the many calls we experience as followers of Jesus. Another way of saying this is to recognize that living out our vocational call is our mission. We fulfill our mission by being good stewards of our lives, gifts, and blessings. This ongoing discernment and fulfillment of our mission is one of the many things that makes stewardship leadership such a dynamic and sometimes challenging endeavor.

Helping people recognize their mission to witness to and make Christ’s love known through their stewardship is a sacred responsibility. As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us pray that we may fulfill this mission well and with grace. Merry Christmas!

 

 

Christmas Mass Schedule

St. Mary, Star of the Sea is your home for the holidays. Come home for Christmas!

There are multiple Masses offered on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We invite you to join us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!

  • Christmas Eve in English at 5pm and 10pm, Spanish at 7:30pm
  • Christmas Day in English at 8am and 10am, Spanish at 12:00pm

 

Stewardship and Christmas: Turning the World Upside Down

 

For women in the ancient world, motherhood was prized and desired above almost all else. Sacred scripture tells of many women who pleaded with God to let them conceive. From Sarah, the mother of Isaac, to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, the Bible is replete with women who finally, in their old age, were granted the gift of motherhood for which they had begged God.

How marvelously significant it is, then, that in the town of Nazareth those many years ago, a young girl named Mary, unmarried and probably feeling altogether unready for motherhood, was visited by an angel who delivered God’s plea: would she give God a child?

Mary’s response is a model par excellence for all those who aspire to be good stewards: “Behold, I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).

And so the real mystery and beauty of Christmas is delivered: God turns the world upside down. In the words of the Magnificat, Mary proclaims the hope of every good steward: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk. 1:46).

He has dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart, lifted up the lowly, filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. Here is a new understanding of the God who desires not our begging and our pleas, but our ‘yes’ to God’s invitation to be active stewards in his plan of salvation.

For the Christian steward, the consumerism, the gaudiness, the excesses of our cultural Christmas can be overcome by answering the call to live simpler lives, to use less, to feed the poor, to quiet ourselves in stillness rather than grow louder in frenzied activity.

In her book The Vigil: Keeping Watch in the Season of Christ’s Coming, Professor Wendy Wright from Creighton University writes: “The ancient desert dwellers of our early Christian communities tell us that the surest way into the heart of God is to be still. In being still we learn to be attentive to the vast and hidden stillness that permeates all things.”

In a world which prizes and desires wealth above so many things, the Christian steward finds in the stillness the true hope which lies at the heart of Christmas. Christ has come, and he comes again and again, and finally in the end, Christ comes.

Once again, God implores us to receive this child in the stillness of our hearts, and respond to his call to transform the world’s values – to turn the world upside down.

 

PENANCE SERVICES IN NEIGHBORING PARISHES

Whether you choose by date or location, my prayer for you is that you take advantage of this opportunity to receive the graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Wed, Dec 6 @ 7:00 p.m. at St. Patrick, Carlsbad

Sun, Dec 10 @ 4:00 p.m. at St. Thomas More, Oceanside

Tues, Dec 13 @ 7:00 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton, La Costa

Thurs, Dec 14 @ 7:00 p.m. at Nativity, Rancho Santa Fe

Fri, Dec 15 @ 1:00 & 7:00 p.m. at Mission San Luis Rey

Sat, Dec 16 @ 8:00 a.m. at St. Mary Star of the Sea, O’side

Mon, Dec 18 @ 6:30 p.m. in Spanish at St. Mark’s, San Marcos

Tues, Dec 19 @ 12:00 noon at St. Francis, Vista

Tues, Dec 19 @ 6:30 p.m. at St. Francis, Vista

Wed, Dec 20 @ 6:30 p.m. at St. Mark, San Marcos

Thurs, Dec 21 @ 6:00 p.m. at St. Peter, Fallbrook

Accept the Grace of Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is ALWAYS a beautiful thing.  I had a friend recently who hadn’t been to confession in about 40 years.  I’m sure you know someone like that…maybe yourself?  He decided in his heart that it was time to go, but he feared being judged or chastised.  I assured him that God would be thrilled to see him return to grace.

So, he corralled his fears and trepidation and showed up at the confessional one Saturday.  Rather than scolding him for his absence, the priest asked “Why now?  What brought you back to the Sacrament?”  We all have our reasons why we stay away and we all have our reasons why we return.  If it’s been awhile, why not now?  Why not this Lent?  God is patiently waiting for you to kneel before Him and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

Our parish is hosting a Communal Advent Penance Service on Saturday, December 16 at 8:00 a.m.  As a community, we will share a short prayer service, an examination of conscience, and then each penitent will have the opportunity to meet privately with a confessor.  (About 10 priests will be on hand to hear your confession.)

If you would rather go to confession in the traditional manner, we will also offer confessions on Saturdays December 9 or 23 at 8:00 a.m.

Your other option is to attend a Communal Penance Service at a neighboring parish:

Wednesday, Dec 6 @ 7:00 p.m. at St. Patrick, Carlsbad

Sunday, Dec 10 @ 4:00 p.m. at St. Thomas More, Oceanside

Tuesday, Dec 13 @ 7:00 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton, La Costa

Thursday, Dec 14 @ 7:00 p.m. at Nativity, Rancho Santa Fe

Friday, Dec 15 @ 1:00 p.m. at Mission San Luis Rey

Friday, Dec 15 @ 7:00 p.m. at Mission San Luis Rey

Saturday, Dec 16 @ 8:00 a.m. at St. Mary Star of the Sea, Oceanside

Monday, Dec 18 @ 6:30 p.m. in Spanish at St. Mark’s, San Marcos

Tuesday, Dec 19 @ 12:00 noon at St. Francis, Vista

Tuesday, Dec 19 @ 6:30 p.m. at St.. Francis, Vista

Wednesday, Dec 20 @ 6:30 p.m. at St. Mark, San Marcos

Thursday, Dec 21 @ 6:00 p.m. at St. Peter, Fallbrook

 

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD: YOU SHALL NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE ME.  Have I treated people, events or things as more important than God?

YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN.  Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people?

REMEMBER TO KEEP HOLY THE LORD’S DAY.  Do I go to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation?  Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body?  Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday?

 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER.  Do I show my parents due respect?  Do I seek to maintain good communication with my parents where possible?  Do I criticize them for lacking skills I think they should have?

YOU SHALL NOT KILL.  Have I harmed another through physical, verbal or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind?

YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.  Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself?

YOU SHALL NOT STEAL.  Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another?

YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR.  Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of others?

YOU SHALL NOT COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S SPOUSE.  Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love?

YOU SHALL NOT COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GOODS.  Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I compare myself to others unnecessarily?

 

Wishing you a blessed and holy Advent season.

 

 

 

St. Joseph Sunday Missals Now Available

This complete Saint Joseph 2018 American Edition Sunday Missal provides each Sunday’s Prayers, Readings, and Responses in a continuous style for easy use and understanding. Also contained in this book are the masses for Holydays from the beginning of Advent through the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

Stop by the parish office to purchase your copy for $5 each.

What is Your “Just One Thing “?

Autumn is the season for harvesting and sharing the fruits of our labors. This week’s scriptures use images of the harvest, family life, pregnancy, and investment to describe the abundant harvest in the reign of God. We discover that sharing the gifts we have been given brings eternal rewards for everyone.

In the Gospel parable a master entrusts his possessions to three servants before going on a journey. Each is given some talents. What they do with those talents determines what the master will do with them when he returns. How about us? What are we doing with our talents? How will our Master treat us when he returns?

We are all part of God’s Plan.  Every one of us has a gift that God has given us to share.  Let’s all take that first step together.  While it may be a little intimidating to jump off the edge into the deep end of the pool, it would be easy to put just your toes in first.

Think about it.  What ONE THING can you do to honor God while benefitting our faith community?

Do you sew?  Do you bake?  Can you make a main dish or pan of lasagna for a special function?

Are you a painter who could do touch-up painting in our facilities to keep them looking fresh and clean?

Do you have a trade to share?  Are you a landscaper who could offer 2 hours a week to keep up the grounds of the parish?

Are you available to help with small Honey-Do jobs?

Are you able to pick up a fellow parishioner who needs a ride to Mass?

Are you available to set up tables and chairs on either a periodic or regular basis?

Extra hands and hearts are welcome in our Youth Faith Formation program.  Are you available?

Are you able to make sandwiches one day a week and be part of our Feed My People Ministry?

Are you comfortable with money?  Would you be willing to serve on the Collection Counting Team once a week?

Will you visit the sick of our parish at their homes or in the hospital?

 

While it is very important in our faith life to attend Mass each week, it is also critical to our faith journey to be engaged with our parish.   Are you willing to be part of the Liturgical Ministries once a month?

Can you share a welcoming smile with visitors and “regulars” at Sunday Mass (be a Greeter)?

Can you proclaim the Word of God during Mass as a Lector?

Will you consider helping people find a seat, taking up the collection, being an Usher?

Do you play an instrument (including voice)?  Are you willing to be part of one of our choirs?  (We have special occasion choirs if you’re not available on a regular basis.)

Are you good with young children?  Would you be willing to be a catechist once a month for the Children’s Ministry during the 10 a.m. Mass?

 

Please prayerfully consider putting that first toe in the water.  For more information, call Debbie at 760.722.1688 or email her at dshapiro.stmarys@gmail.com.

 

 

Amazon Smile – A New Way to Support St. Mary’s!

Do you shop on Amazon? We sure do! Did you know you can support St. Mary’s Parish with every purchase you make? Amazon donates a portion of every sale, at no cost to you, to any non-profit organization that you designate. CLICK HERE to set St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish as your preferred charity/non-profit. Then, the next time you shop, start at http://smile.amazon.com and know that (at no cost to you) .5% of your purchase is going to support St. Mary’s Parish! What could be easier?