First Sunday of Advent

November 28/29, 2020

The season of Advent is upon us, and in today’s Gospel Jesus delivers a simple message through the pen of Saint Mark: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Christian stewards understand what Jesus meant when he said, “It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task.” Good stewards realize that to each one a task is assigned by God. They have been set in a particular place and station in life, and have been gifted with unique relationships. How do we respond to the tasks or cultivate our relationships in a way that keeps us alert for the return of Christ?

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

November 21/22, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Saint Matthew offers a compelling vision of the end-time, when the people of all the nations are brought before the Lord to give an account of their lives and actions. Interestingly, the sheep, the righteous ones, are rewarded for having acted with love and compassion without having recognized the face of Christ in others. Good stewards recognize those in need of their care as gifts from God. They know that they are the instruments of Christ’s active, loving presence in the world. How will we treat others this week: our family members, neighbors, customers or strangers? What accounting will we make to the Lord for their care?

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne: Stewardship Saint of the Month

Born in Grenoble, France, in 1769, Rose was the daughter of a prominent lawyer. She was educated in a convent school and entered religious life when she was 18 years old.

She eventually became a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and in 1815, at age 46, was directed to establish a convent in Paris. Sister Rose had heard a call to be a missionary since her youth.

She revealed a spiritual experience she had had during a night of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday: “I spent the entire night in the New World… carrying the Blessed Sacrament to all parts of the land… I had all my sacrifices to offer: a mother, sisters, family, my mountain!” At age 49, Sister Rose responded to the call.

In 1818, she was sent to the United States at the request of the bishop of the Louisiana territory who was looking for a congregation of educators. She arrived in New Orleans, and traveled north to St. Louis, then to nearby St. Charles, Missouri. There she established in a log cabin the first convent of the Society ever built outside of France. The small community, which included a boarding school for daughters of pioneers, faced many struggles including lack of funds and very cold winters. Sister Rose also had great difficulty learning English.

By 1828, however, after much prayer, work and perseverance, Sister Rose had established six schools. When Sister Rose was 72, a school for children of the Potawatomi tribe was opened at Sugar Creek, Kansas. Though many thought Rose too sick to go, the Jesuit head of the mission insisted: “She must come; she may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.” Her long hours of prayer impelled the tribal leaders to name her, “Woman-Who-Prays-Always.” Sister Rose was with the Potawatomi tribe only one year, however, as her health could not sustain the rigors of village life.

In July 1842, she returned to St. Charles where she would spend the last ten years of her life. She died on November 18, 1852, at the age of 83. She was canonized in 1988 by Saint John Paul II. Her feast day is November 18.

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 14/15, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus delivers the parable of the talents; using the example of money rather than abilities or skills. It’s a story about investments, risks and returns. Stewards understand that God has given them an abundance of spiritual gifts. They know God doesn’t want them to simply receive these blessings and bury them in fear, but to multiply them; to use these gifts to serve Him and others; to spread Christ’s Good News; to go and make disciples of others. Good stewards invest what God has given them in the service of others and are prepared to render an account when the Lord returns. Reflect this week on how you are returning your own God-given gifts back to God with increase.

Transform November into a Month of Thanksgiving

Very soon Americans will celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays. Even during these uncertain times, we will have the urge to gather for sumptuous meals highlighted by turkey and pumpkin pie, traveling to and from the ancestral home, enjoying family, feasting on leftovers and perhaps even watching football.

For many of us, Thanksgiving Day is so full of activity that there is a tendency to forget what’s at the heart of Thanksgiving, offering our thanks to God for the many gifts that have been bestowed upon us. Although sometimes the reason for the holiday is forgotten in our secular culture today, good stewards of their life and faith recognize that Thanksgiving should be directed primarily in God’s direction.

Because the “busyness” of Thanksgiving Day can easily distract us from slowing down to a pace more suitable to adequately expressing our gratitude to God, perhaps this November we might allow Thanksgiving to permeate our lives for more than just a day. How about the entire month?

Expressing gratitude is at the heart of good stewardship. So, let’s dedicate a little time each day in November to giving thanks for our blessings. Begin with Sunday, November 1 and Monday, November 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Spend a few minutes each of those days thanking God for all the people in your life who have gone before you. Then, each day thereafter, set aside a few minutes to remember all that God has given you and say “Thank you.”

Take part of a day and walk or hike down a woodland path. Express your gratitude for the beauty of God’s autumn creation.

Take a minute each day to thank the people in your life who matter to you. Tell them you’re thankful for them.

Drop someone a note, place a short phone call or maybe a video chat is in order. Telling people you’re thankful for them will enrich your life as well as theirs.

Make a point to attend at least one Mass outside the regular weekend Masses. Going to Mass on Thanksgiving morning is an excellent way to enhance that holiday. As a community of faith, we know that giving glory to God in this way is an important aspect of our communal life of faith.

Transform the month of November into a month of Thanksgiving. If you do, you will find your celebration of Thanksgiving Day a richer and fuller experience than you could have imagined. In fact, you might just discover that your overall happiness with life improves. May this month of Thanksgiving be a time when we not only say “Thank You” to God, family and neighbor, but a time when our hearts draw us much closer to the Lord.

Mass is offered here at St. Mary’s on Thanksgiving Day at 9:00 a.m.  Please join us.

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Weekend of November 7/8, 2020

Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven with ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five of them were prudent. The foolish did not prepare for the wait, they brought no extra oil to keep their flames burning bright. The prudent bridesmaids brought extra oil, just in case the wait was longer than they had expected. And the wait was long. Some of those who were supposed to be waiting were not prepared for the wait, with disastrous consequences. Good stewards heed Jesus’ warning: Be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return. Is your faith strong enough to endure the wait? Will the “flames” of passion for the Lord endure? What are you doing to keep your passion for the Lord from burning out?

All Saints Day

All Saints Day Weekend of October 31/November 1, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his followers about “blessedness,” a word not used much in American culture. The Beatitudes Jesus evokes in this Gospel reading are not promises of happiness, but promises of a new life with God; blessedness is key to a new way of living through the human experiences of mourning, meekness, peacemaking, persecution, and poverty of spirit. For Christian stewards, “blessedness” does not depend on wealth or health or status. Rather, Christian stewards recognize that blessedness is God’s gift. In the kingdom of God, life is not governed by honor and fame, but by the promise of abundant life. Embracing a poverty of spirit and meekness reveal God’s abundant life “breaking into” our world. Reflect on the Beatitudes this week. How might they help us improve our relationship with the Lord?

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is one command that summarizes this weekend’s Gospel: to love. For Jesus there is no distinction between these two commands of loving God and neighbor. One naturally flows from the other. In fact, for Jesus, these commands constitute a way of life for Christian stewards; a unique approach to life and to their relationship with others. Our neighbors include everyone with whom we come into contact: family members, friends, people we don’t like, strangers and particularly those most in need of our love and compassion. Love calls us to open our hearts and do more to help others grow closer to the Lord. How might we follow Christ’s love command more fervently?

Stewardship Saint of the Month: Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Maria Bertilla gave witness to Christian stewardship through her simple living and caring for others as a nurse and consecrated religious. She was born in 1888 in a village near Vicenza, in northern Italy, to a poor farming family headed by a violently abusive and alcoholic father. She lacked a normal education and was ridiculed for her seeming lack of intelligence. She worked as a house servant in her youth.

At age 16, Maria joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vicenza and was assigned to work in the kitchen, laundry and bakery. Eventually she was given permission to be trained as a nurse and displayed a special gift for working with children suffering from diphtheria.

During World War I, the hospital was taken over by the Italian army to care for its wounded. Sister Bertilla became well-known to military authorities and others for her compassion, dedication and unwavering care of those who could not be moved, even in times of terror, when the hospital was under fire and subject to bombing and artillery barrages. She wrote in her diary: “Here I am, Lord, to do your will whatever comes.” When she and her patients were finally transferred to a safer area Sister Bertilla’s religious superior transferred her back to the laundry. Soon thereafter, however, the mother general of the religious community countermanded that order and Sister Bertilla was reassigned to the hospital to take charge of a children’s ward. Her reputation for simplicity and hard work left a deep impression on those who knew her. Sister Bertilla had suffered for a number of years with a painful tumor, and in 1922 her health declined rapidly. After an unsuccessful surgery to remove the tumor she died on October 20, 1922. Thousands of people attended her funeral in Vicenza, Italy, and her tomb became a pilgrimage site. A plaque remains at the hospital in her honor, describing her as a “chosen soul of heroic goodness…an angelic alleviator of human suffering …” Family members and many former patients attended Maria Bertilla’s canonization in 1961 by Saint Pope John XXIII. Her feast day is October 20.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus offers us a profound teaching on stewardship in this weekend’s reading: What belongs to Caesar? What belongs to God? Christian stewards recognize that everything they have belongs to God. God created them, and God has claims on every part of their existence. They also realize that the sovereign is an institution whose nature and purpose is to promote the common good and protect the welfare of its citizenry. As long as it accomplishes this mission while treating every single person with deep respect, justice and compassion, it merits the steward’s support and cooperation. Christian stewards know what belongs to the Lord, and they are better citizens when they live their lives according to his Gospel.