Today we hear one of the most beloved stories in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Reconciliation is a prominent theme. Seeing the younger son returning to him, the son who left the family and squandered his inheritance, the compassionate father runs to embrace him. Jesus offers us a vision of a loving God who is merciful and forgiving when we, through our own sinfulness, leave his presence, and then through repentance, return to him. The remainder of the Lenten season offers us an opportunity to reflect on God’s compassion and our need for reconciliation. If you have not done so already, consider celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation and experience God’s loving embrace and forgiveness.
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I am so thankful to our Church’s Spanish-Speaking community who came yesterday and responded positively to our in-person “Synod”. As I observed, we had a good number of people who came. I am most grateful to our Synod Coordinators: Matthew and Marlyn Delo, Emilia Mota, and Wendy Baez. And of course, to all our Facilitators and our Note-takers who shared their time, talents, and treasures… Kudos!
The next group to do the Synod is for our St. Mary Star of the Sea School. For those of you who plan to join the Synod and prefer to answer the three questions through email, kindly send it to our Parish Website: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for sharing your answers from the questions will be until April 1, 2022.
The three main questions are as follows:
1.) What makes you SAD with the Church?
2.) What makes you HAPPY with the Church?
3.) What is your HOPE for the Church? Thank you for your honest response.
In today’s Gospel Jesus offers his parable about last chances. The fig tree will have one last chance to bear fruit before it is cut down and destroyed. Good stewards realize that, like the fig tree, they are endowed with God-given gifts that are meant to “bear fruit” for God and neighbor. God has legitimate expectations of them. They also realize they do not know how much time they have left before the gardener returns for an accounting of their fruitfulness. How are we using our God-given gifts? How might we use our gifts to bear more fruit? The answer requires some urgency.
By Rev. Joseph D. Creedon, pastor emeritus, Christ the King Parish, Providence, Rhode Island. This excerpt is sixth in a series based on his current book.
Stewardship requires an “attitude of gratitude.” Many times we are inclined to take too much credit for our successes in life and too little blame for our failures. The best antidote I have discovered for the hubris of our sense of self-importance is to set aside time to compile a list of the gifts we have received from God.
The Gift of Life: Life is a gift from God. None of us did anything to deserve being born. Spend a few moments being thankful for still being alive. My younger brother, Mike, died at the age of 56. He was a delightful human being, a loving husband, father, teacher, coach and friend. He died too young. His family and my brothers and I could focus on what was taken from us or focus on the gift of having him in our lives for whatever part of his 56 years we shared. Life is a gift and we need to live each day thanking God for it.
The Gift of Family: Just as we did nothing to deserve being born, we did nothing to deserve the parents and siblings we were given. Sometimes it takes time to fully appreciate the gift of family. There were times when I would have traded in my parents for another set that would have met my perceived needs of the moment. Fortunately, I have lived long enough to realize that they were the best parents for me. My older brother has expressed it this way, “Our father demanded perfection and our mother convinced us that we could live up to his expectation.” Once we embrace family as gift, it is amazing how the things that could drive us apart lose their power.
The Gift of Education: I have never met anyone who did not have a story about a teacher who changed her or his life. I have my list of such teachers; I’m sure you have yours. Education has changed our worldview and our self-understanding. We have learned from coaches, scout leaders, neighbors, relatives and friends. All learning is a gift from God. We need to be more thankful for the gift of our education.
The Gift of Vocation: Nothing in life is as important as discovering what God wants us to do with our lives. I truly believe that God wanted me to be a priest. Many people seem to get lost in their search to discover who and what God wants them to be but the happiest and most fulfilled people I know are those who are doing what they love and love what they are doing. The Gift of Friends: Let us say together, “We do not deserve the friends we have!”
The gift of friendship is so precious. Our friends love us not in spite of our faults but because of them. Friends encourage us to grow and take risks. Friends teach us that time is a gift when they chose to share time with us. Most important of all, our friends see our gifts and talents before we do and they lovingly encourage us to recognize and develop our hidden gifts.
The above list of gifts is not meant to be exhaustive; it is offered as an outline. I hope you will use it to create your own list of gifts. Unless we make ourselves aware of the many gifts God has sown in our lives we will never develop the “attitude of gratitude” that is essential for the spirituality of stewardship to take root in our lives.
In today’s second reading we learn that one of Saint Paul’s principles of Christian living is to watch and imitate other followers of Christ. There is a pattern for Christian living that Saint Paul wants others to discover and then imitate. This pattern includes a life of prayer, selflessness, sacrifice, and caring for others, including our family of faith. Good stewards choose their friends wisely. They cultivate friendships with other Christian stewards, spend time with them, observe how they live, ask questions about their faith and learn from them. Who are your friends? Are they good stewards of their faith? Are they those who can help you on your own journey of faith?
Come see how a Catholic education at St. Mary, Star of the Sea School can make a difference for your child and family!
St. Mary, Star of the Sea Elementary and Middle School is currently enrolling students in our Kindergarten through Eighth Grade for the 2022-23 school year.
St. Mary’s offers an affordable educational experience where we nurture the spiritual, physical, emotional, moral, and intellectual development necessary for your children to reach the fullness of their God-given potential. In addition to core subjects, we offer physical education, technology, music, art, and advanced mathematics—all taught in a fully Catholic environment.
Please call 760.722.7259 or email email@example.com to set up an appointment to visit our campus for a tour and meet our caring professional staff. For Preschool enrollment, please call 760.722.7475.
God of love and mercy, we are living under the cross of your Son in an unexpected and unwelcome way. We feel the gripping power of fear, anxiety, powerlessness and dread. We face the cross with a fearful heart. Send your Spirit down upon us to give us wisdom and courage, to console us and give us peace. One with you and your Son, the Spirit is the giver of life who can guide us through the storms and comfort us in our pain and discouragement. Through your Spirit, transform our weakness into strength and breathe confidence into us, so that our stewardship of the Gospel will give us a new boldness to proclaim the hope of your cross and the joy of Easter morning. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Next to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph is the most honored saint in the Catholic Church for being the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. His traditional feast day is March 19. Joseph’s life is depicted in the gospels, particularly in Matthew and Luke. He was born in Bethlehem and is described as being a descendant of King David. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but was pregnant with the Christ child before Joseph took her into his home. According to Jewish law at the time, Mary could have been stoned to death if she was believed to have been unfaithful to her betrothed. An angel of the Lord told Joseph to take Mary into his home, that the child was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and that his name would be Jesus. After Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, in yet another dream, Joseph was told to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt and remain there until Herod’s slaughter of newborns had come to an end with Herod’s own death. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to the region of Galilee and settled in Nazareth where Joseph taught his craft of carpentry to Jesus. Joseph is last mentioned in the Gospels when, on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he and Mary frantically searched for the lost Jesus in Jerusalem, and found him in the Temple (Luke 2:42–52).
Saint Joseph was declared patron saint and protector of the universal Church by Pope Pius IX at the close of the First Vatican Council in 1870. He is also considered a spiritual model for families and Christian teaching frequently stresses his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities Christians should reflect upon and embrace.
He is the patron saint of fathers, foster fathers, husbands, the unborn, working people in general and social justice. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of several countries including Canada, China, Korea, Mexico and Peru. Many cities, towns, and other locations are named after Saint Joseph as well; and it has been noted that the Spanish form of Saint Joseph, San Jose, is the most common place name in the world.
Mass will be offered this Saturday at 7 a.m. in honor of St. Joseph.
PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH FOR WORKERS
Joseph, by the work of your hands and the sweat of your brow,
you supported Jesus and Mary,
and had the Son of God as your fellow worker.
Teach me to work as you did, with patience and perseverance,
for God and for those whom God has given me to support.
Teach me to see in my fellow workers the Christ who desires to be in them,
that I may always be charitable and forbearing towards all.
Grant me to look upon work with the eyes of faith,
so that I shall recognize in it my share in God’s own creative activity
and in Christ’s work of our redemption, and so take pride in it.
When it is pleasant and productive, remind me to give thanks to God for it.
And when it is burdensome, teach me to offer it to God,
in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world. Amen.
Why a “Steward’s Way of the Cross”? Stewardship is all about receiving God’s gifts gratefully and sharing them generously. But to be good stewards, we have to understand first that we have been blessed – that all we have are the gifts of our good and loving God. Only then can we make our use of those gifts an act of Thanksgiving to the God who gave them. Our greatest single gift from God is Jesus, his life and ministry, his death on the cross and his resurrection for our salvation. It is appropriate to look at the gift of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection through the lens of stewardship; to reflect on the Stations of the Cross and consider what gifts are being given and received in each one so that we are able to receive and rejoice more fully in the gift of God in Christ. Good and loving Father, we bring you praise and thanksgiving for the gift of your beloved Son, our Savior. As we walk this way of the cross, devoutly recalling his passion and death, send your Spirit to open our eyes to your gifts of grace that we may do this and all things in union with Christ. Amen.
THE FIRST STATION: Jesus is condemned to death “Why? What evil has he done?” The gift of this first station is innocence. Pilate offers Jesus up for crucifixion. Jesus says nothing, but is in fact innocent of the crimes of which he is accused. An ancient Eucharistic prayer says “Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.” Through that selfless act, through his death and resurrection, we are saved. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE SECOND STATION: Jesus carries his cross …carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull We see in this station the gift of acceptance. Following Jesus may mean accepting burdens of one kind or another, and those burdens are also a gift. Saying “Yes” to the Lord means accepting the joys and sorrows that discipleship brings. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE THIRD STATION: Jesus falls the first time He himself was tested through what he suffered… The gift of this station is fortitude. The way of the cross is long and painful, and under the weight of the cross, Jesus stumbles and falls. But he gets up and begins again – and so must we when adversity brings us to our knees, confident that our Lord is with us in our troubles. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE FOURTH STATION: Jesus meets his mother … he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” There are many gifts here – the gift of relationships, the gift of Mary to John and in that way, to the whole Church – but the most important gift of this station is compassion. In her anguish, Mary came out to be present to her son, and even in the pain and cruelty of the crucifixion, Jesus made sure his mother would be loved and cared for. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE FIFTH STATION: Simon helps Jesus carry his cross …this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. The gift of this station is service. Big, strong, and available, Simon of Cyrene was a steward in spite of himself, putting those gifts to use in the service of the Lord. We have gifts to share, too, and we share them best when we are “bearing one another’s burdens,” engaged in the loving service of our neighbor. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE SIXTH STATION: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Loving kindness is the gift of this station. Heedless of the danger to herself in a crowd of angry men, Veronica presses forward to wipe the sweat-stained face of Jesus, her love for Him overcoming her fear. In this small, loving act, we see that no gift of ours is too small or too insignificant to be offered. It is good stewardship to “do small things with great love.” Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE SEVENTH STATION: Jesus falls the second time …it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. The gift here is endurance. Jesus falls a second time, but struggles to his feet and continues. In the Garden, He had prayed to be spared this, but rose from prayer strengthened to do the Father’s will, not his own. Following Jesus is the work of a lifetime, and to fall is not to fail. With the strength of the one who bore our burdens, we can begin again and persevere on our Christian journey. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE EIGHTH STATION: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem These women had followed him when he was in Galilee… These women who had faithfully followed Jesus during his ministry were drawn by their love for him into this scene of unimaginable horror. They brought emotional gifts of sympathy and concern. And, like women of every age, just by being there, they also brought the gift of presence to the one whose suffering they were not otherwise able to ease. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE NINTH STATION: Jesus falls the third time By his wounds we have been healed. The gift of this station is selflessness. A man for others, Jesus teaches us to bear one another’s burdens, to set aside self interest and use our gifts to help the poor, the suffering, and the forgotten. Weary and weak, He summons his remaining strength to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Good stewards must follow His example. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE TENTH STATION: Jesus is stripped of his garments “They divided my garments among them…” Here we see true humility. Stripped naked on that first Good Friday, Jesus invites us to strip away the nonessentials in our lives and focus on what really matters. Good stewards know that they have nothing – even their very life is a gift – that has not come as a gift from God. And humbly acknowledging that fact, they then use their gifts for others, in thanksgiving. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is nailed to the cross “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Forgiveness – even for his tormentors – is the gift of this station. Discipleship is not an easy road. “If you wish to come after me,” Jesus said, “you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it.” And here’s the hard part… If we are truly following Jesus, we must forgive from the heart all who have hurt us in any way. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE TWELFTH STATION: Jesus dies on the cross “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” Here we see the ultimate gift – the total self sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus who has always given himself to the will of the Father, now gives his life as well. “There is no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend,” he had told his disciples. Here on the cross as he breathes his last, he shows the depth of his love for them – and for us. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross Joseph of Arimathea… came and took his body. A tentative disciple at first, Joseph of Arimathea now braves the wrath of the authorities and asks for the body of Jesus. The gift we see in him is faithfulness. Once having committed to follow Jesus, he was faithful to the end, giving this last act of love and service. Good stewards are like that – always and everywhere saying “Yes” to the will of God, even when it’s difficult or dangerous. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb Joseph wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb The gift of this station is generosity. Joseph of Arimathea gives his own new tomb to Jesus. What a bittersweet joy he must have felt to be able to give this one last gift to the Lord. But the truth is, whenever we give generously of the gifts God has so bountifully given to us – to anyone — we give them to the Lord. It is the duty and the blessing of good stewards to give freely, as we have freely received. Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection, You have set us free.
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS ARE PRAYED EVERY FRIDAY IN LENT. In English after the 8 a.m. Mass and at 2:15 p.m. at School. In Spanish at 7 p.m.