Feeding Our People

With today’s two accounts of feeding miracles and the psalm response about the Lord’s hand feeding us, it is easy to gloss over the marvelous hymn in Ephesians. It is built around the most potent biblical numbers: one, three, and seven. The core of it is the word “one” expressed seven times. Three of these describe the church: one body, one Spirit, one hope; the next three are the foundations of the church: one Lord [Jesus], one faith, one baptism. All of these are bound up together in the one Father of all.

While we might feel daunted by the prospect of duplicating the wonders worked by Elisha and Jesus in the feeding of multitudes, Ephesians gives us a more realistic way to live and “feed” others as the church: by living in humility and gentleness, by acting with patience, bearing with each other in love, and always seeking and striving to preserve unity through peace.

Who among us cannot increase the way we “feed” the church and the world by living this way? We are always called upon to “feed” the world in the literal sense; but our mission as church tells us that others are also fed by the way we live and act each moment of each day.

So, are you doing what it takes to “feed” others around you? Are you taking time with someone when it’s easier to be impatient? Is there someone in your life (or with whom you have casual contact) that causes you to step back and take a moment before reacting? Do you know someone who is elderly, hard of hearing, slow on their feet who—literally—needs you to slow down and be patient with them?

Every year when my birthday nears (still a few months off), I start looking at myself. Am I a better person than I was a year ago? What can I do to improve who I am? I used to look at what I had accomplished and what I wanted to do/accomplish for the coming year. I finally had an epiphany and realized that if I was could become who I wanted myself to be, I would be able to accomplish great things. It’s been quite a work in progress, and there’s a lot of road ahead of me.

The point I am trying to make is that we can always improve ourselves and thinking about how we can “feed the church” will always lead to us to being a better version of ourselves.

But besides the figurative feeding of our church, I want to remind you that the church is in need of being fed literally as well. Through the efforts of some very good and faithful stewards, our parish has a new ministry that cares for those in need in our parish. It is called “FEED MY PEOPLE Pantry Ministry”. With so many generous parishioners participating in this ministry, we are able to provide daily sack lunches for over 20 of our neighbors who might not have a nice meal any other time of the day. We also provide a periodic (about every 3 weeks) grocery distribution to about two dozen families. And we work alongside our St. Vincent de Paul Society who makes home visits to families in need.

We find ourselves most in need of $25 gift cards to any grocery store, loaves of bread, tortillas, bags of apples or cuties, and reusable grocery bags.

You can find grocery bags in the vestibule with a printed list attached. Please be sure to refer to the list, as it changes periodically. There is a drop-off container in the vestibule, or you can bring donations to the office Monday through Friday from 10-5.

Volunteers are also needed. Depending on the task you are given, you may be asked to complete a Food Handlers Certification.

Without your participation, this ministry would not be able to continue its good works with God’s hungry people. Thank you for your generosity.

Christian Stewardship and the Need for Recreation

Is there such a thing as a stewardship of recreation? Some people might dismiss the thought. But they’d be wrong.

In his book, The Gift of the Jews, author Thomas Cahill observes that, in receiving the Ten Commandments, the ancient Hebrews did something no other ancient society had ever done: they established a day of rest. “The God who made the universe and rested bids us to do the same, calling us to a weekly restoration of prayer, study, and recreation (or re-creation).”

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere at least, probably no other month bids us to relax as the month of July does. Backyard barbecues, days at the pool or the beach, a recreational outing or simply the lazy idleness of a mid-year Sunday afternoon invite us to slow down. And this invitation should be heeded. Sometimes, our society induces in us a sense of guilt if we’re not “doing.”

But turning off the computer and the phone and spending quality time with those around us, or finding time for our own interior lives, is stewardship of our time which leads to the place where God dwells.

It’s a good example for our kids as well: the summer presents a wonderful time to “rest” from all the electronic screens and busyness that dominate their young lives.

July is the month when U.S. citizens celebrate the proclamation of their freedom. When the Hebrew people first received the Ten Commandments, they too had just received their freedom from the Egyptians after a sojourn in the wilderness. Cahill thinks it’s no coincidence that a people recently liberated were in need of a directive to rest and reflect. “Leisure,” he writes, “is the necessary ground of creativity, and a free people are free to imitate the creativity of God.”

So, the next time you feel guilty about a quiet, reflective time of doing “nothing” remember that recreation also means “re-creation” and that to be a truly creative person, a steward of our interior resources, we must honor our need to rest, relax, be with others, read and play.

STEWARDSHIP PRAYER
FOR SUMMER

Lord and Creator,
You are the source of wisdom and grace,
the author of human freedom and creativity.

We thank you for these gifts, and ask that you teach us
to be good stewards of our creative spirits.

Show us how to quiet ourselves, and to learn the art of re-creation,
reflection and relaxation so that we might recharge
and refill ourselves for the work you have planned for us.

Help us never to be too busy to pause and
realize your gracious presence all around us:
in nature, in other people, in ourselves.
Slow us down, Lord,
and teach us to be stewards of our time of recreation.
Amen.

Being Good Stewards of Our Common Home

Seldom has a papal encyclical been anticipated with so much noise and discussion and even premature criticism and fear as our Holy Father, Pope Francis’ Laudato si (“Praise Be to You”); with a beautiful subtitle “On Care for Our Common Home.” This is the pope’s encyclical on the environment—easily found on Google—but most of us will admit encyclicals aren’t as engrossing as our favorite summer reading. Nevertheless, it deserves our prayerful attention; not just the commentary that journalists, pundits, radio hosts and television analysts provide.

Each of us, as Christian stewards, will find something that inspires and challenges us from Pope Francis’ prescription for a healthy planet. For many readers, the challenge might come particularly in the pope’s warnings about “extreme and selective consumerism.” In our culture, we’re taught that more is better – more production, more growth, more profits, more spending. But can the earth sustain this kind of economic dogma? Pope Francis echoes the Catholic teaching tradition that we should “replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing.”

The letter urges us to examine our lifestyles and invites us to prayerfully consider a significant shift in our own practices and habits. For example, one question we should ask ourselves: Can we live with less?

A visit to our closets is a good place to start, and while commit¬ting to buy less, we might ruminate on the mistaken values of our consumer economy and culture. Our pontiff points out that one-third of food that is produced is discarded. Again, our own kitchens present evidence of our complicity in this wastefulness.

The poor suffer the most from changes in the earth’s complex ecosystem, and that is readily evidenced by their struggle simply to find clean water. The pope also reminds us as Christians called to exercise good stewardship of the planet to consider what in our own life comprises “need” and what is “greed.”

Pope Francis urgently calls us to a renewed commitment to the Eucharist as well – something many commentators fail to mention – and asks us to re¬discover our common bond within this “act of cosmic love.”

For the Christian steward, improving the environment must be a topic of prayer, a chance to call our politicians to action, and a time to renew our commitment to that wonderful Catholic principle of the common good.

If you would like to download a copy of the encyclical, you can go to our website “stmarystars.org”, “News”, and then “Vatican”. We are offering study groups on the encyclical on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. and Thursday afternoons at 1 p.m.

A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH
By Pope Francis

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
Amen

Nostalgia Brings Clarity

The Fourth of July always makes me feel nostalgic. My daddy was a career Marine and we moved to Oceanside in 1959 when he was transferred to Camp Pendleton. I remember sitting on the curb on Hill Street (now Coast Highway) waiting for the 4th of July Parade to start. There were horses, clowns throwing candy, floats, important people waving from fancy cars. And then the Color Guard! I would jump to my feet, put a hand over my heart, get tears in my eyes, and watch the passing of Old Glory. Somehow, even at a young age, I understood all that it represented.

Those were the days that we would walk from South Oceanside (before it became South O) to Geil Motors (corner of Hill & Wisconsin—now the U-Haul) to look at cars. The car daddy wanted but knew he could never afford was very expensive—$3,000!

Just behind Geil Motors was St. Mary’s School, where I was taught by the Adrian Dominican Sisters with up to 50 children in a classroom. No one dared act up! That is where I learned about my faith (in addition to my parents, of course). MANY years later I was able to send my own two children through the school (K-8) to receive a firm foundation.

Junior High and High School were spent at San Luis Rey Academy (now home to Mission Montessori School). My faith life was deepened under the tutelage of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. I remember that my parents spent $30/month for myself and my sister to attend to an all-girls Catholic high school. (THANK YOU, Mom and Dad!)

Shortly after graduation in 1971, Msgr. Clavin asked me to answer the phones in the church office in the afternoons. Later I was asked to sub for the secretary when she took ill. That was in the summer of 1972. I was asked to take on a full time position in June 1973, just a few months before I got married (at St. Mary’s, of course).

I never had aspirations to be “The Church Lady”. But now, as I enter my 44th year, I guess that’s what I am and I consider myself to be blessed beyond measure.

I have worked with seven different men who dedicated their lives to the service of God and were chosen to shepherd the flock at St. Mary Star of the Sea. Each brought his own personality and vision to the parish and I treasure the opportunity to work side by side with each of them.

It seems that, as we age, we enjoy looking back at our childhood memories, especially those that truly shaped us into the adults we became.

Most of my “faith” memories were created right here at St. Mary’s. I remember receiving my First Holy Communion at our altar rail (oops, it’s missing!) And sitting in the pews that you occupy this moment making my mom Shh! at me. (I wasn’t always perfect.) I remember exchanging my marriage vows at our altar and baptizing my babies at our baptismal font.

So this weekend, when you are having BBQs, watching fireworks, just hanging out with family and friends, think about that little girl sitting on the curb watching the Color Guard pass by.

I ask you to BELIEVE that we are lucky to live in a military town so the idea is never far from our minds; to BELIEVE that we are lucky to hear the “sounds of freedom” booming in the late hours as the military practices for combat readiness. I ask you to PRAY for each member of the armed forces (who are someone’s spouse, child, sibling) that put themselves in harms way to keep us safe.

God Bless America!

Find the Right Path

For the last month or so, I have been feeling overwhelmed and very unsettled. It could be that my daughter is getting married in two weeks or that it’s the end of the fiscal year with demands of year-end reports and budgets. It could be lots of things. Quite honestly, the cause usually doesn’t matter as much as how one chooses to handle it.

I don’t know whether or not you can relate, but I’m pretty sure you can on some level.

So, the first sign that I’m overwhelmed and anxious is that I start cleaning and straightening. (Everyone at work laughs at me because I’m so predictable!)

So I was already deep in the cleaning syndrome and, when I went to bed one night I had an amazing dream.

It started out in a muddy field. Through the center of the muddy area was a pathway. It was made up of squares of grass with concrete borders, much like a picture frame. I was trying to get across to the other side. Every time I took a step, I would sink up to my ankles in muck. I tried using the path way, but the grass was just as soupy and I kept getting stuck there as well.

I have found that I have a much better line of communication with God these days, so I challenged: if you want me to cross this area, you need to show me the way. I can’t figure it out for myself.

From within, I heard that I needed to take the path. I AM! IT’S NOT GETTING ME ANYWHERE! I was getting irritated and frustrated. Again from within I heard “Not just any path. Find the right path.”

And I did. Suddenly it was a clear as day to me. I stepped over the grass and onto the cement framework. Next thing I knew, I was on the other side!

This simple statement struck me as so profound that I vowed I would remember it when I woke up in the morning. And I did.

In the days since, I have kept this as my guiding mantra. “Find the Right Path.”

I am a person who wants to be busy and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. This mantra has helps me to think about my current path. Am I really going in the direction that will lead me to my goal, or am I just plugging along trying to make progress in any direction.

I wanted to share this story with you because I believe it is about all aspects of our lives, but most specifically our faith lives.

Are you on the right path? It’s possible to be going in the right direction, but not be on the right path. Think about that for a minute.

If you are attending Mass, treating your friends and neighbors with love and dignity, leading an active prayer life, you are headed in the right direction.

Maybe your journey could benefit from a little course adjustment. Find just the exact right path. Perhaps for you it means receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and asking for guidance.

Perhaps it means getting involved in a ministry and giving back to your parish community or the church at large.

Perhaps it’s not criticizing. Every time we “mess up”, it takes us on a little detour. Be conscious about your thoughts, intentions, and actions. Live deliberately.

Don’t be satisfied with moving in the right direction, be cognizant that you are ON THE RIGHT PATH.

A Daddy is a Special Man

Every Daddy is a father, but not every father is a “Daddy”. It takes a special man to be a Daddy.

He loves his children without measure or condition and would sacrifice anything for their welfare.

He spends countless hours with his children, often when it is inconvenient to his own needs.

He’s not afraid to get on the floor and play with his children or get dirty throwing a football in the park. He’s always there with an “Atta Boy!”

He listens to his children in the middle of the night if that’s when they need to share their deepest darkest secret or fear.

He supports his family in whatever way is necessary. He’s not afraid to be involved in family life, helping with homework, cooking a meal, driving carpools.

He mentors his children in the ways of the world, teaching them life lessons. (Of course, most children want to try it on their own, but he makes a concerted effort.) He passes on his special skills.

He shares his faith with his children. He leads by example, showing his children what it means to be a committed Christian. He takes them to Mass with him. He provides the opportunity for formal religious training (Catholic School or Religious Education Classes.)

My own daddy was all these things. And more. At Christmastime, Mom would spend countless hours at the sewing machine making gifts for us. Daddy would keep us busy making (from scratch) decorated Christmas cookies. He even fashioned the cookie cutters himself! We have all passed along the recipe and the tradition to the next generation.

Every morning of my life at home, Daddy made a hot breakfast for the family before going off to work. And at night, when my mom had cooked the meal, he would do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. We each took turns drying the dishes as Daddy washed them. One of my favorite childhood memories was having that alone-time with Daddy every third night. No subject was off-limits. (No one else would come near in case they would get enlisted into helping!)

And a Daddy makes an awesome grandfather! He takes all the attributes of being a daddy and then has the luxury of being more relaxed and patient with the next generation.

My children called my daddy “Papa”. Papa used to pick up my son from half-day kindergarten on Wednesdays. That was their special “Jens” time. (My son was named after my daddy.) They would work in the garage or the gardens, run errands, or just hang out. During their time together, Papa instilled in him life lessons that can only really be taught by example. He taught him what it meant to be a faith-filled man who loved and respected his family.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s, before Vatican II. At that time I believed that God was very stern, strict and unforgiving. I remember when Fr. Steve McCall came to St. Mary’s in 1991. When he celebrated Mass, he always said “ours is a loving and forgiving God”. It was such a revelation to me and, obviously, changed the way I think of God the Father.

When we pray the Our Father, we refer to God our “father” who art in heaven. I believe that yes, he is our father, the father of all creation, but that he is also a daddy to us.

He loves us unconditionally. Just the way we are. After all, we were created in his image and likeness. He forgives our faults and failings.

He is always waiting for us with open arms and a big lap in which we can curl up and have a private conversation. He is always present to listen to us cry out in the night when we are troubled.

He loves us so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice, giving up his only Son to secure our everlasting salvation.

He fortifies us with strength and encouragement. He gave us His beautiful world in which to thrive.

He blesses us with fathers who proxy for him in our daily lives here on earth. These fathers, the gift of Our Father, enrich our lives and lead us back to God by their example.

Stewardship and Our Flag

People across the United States celebrate Flag Day on June 14 each year to honor the United States flag and to commemorate the flag’s adoption. On the same day, the United States Army Flag Day falls within National Flag Week, a time when Americans reflect on the foundations of the nation’s freedom. The flag of the United States represents freedom and has been an enduring symbol of the country’s ideals since its early days. During both events, Americans also remember their loyalty to the nation, reaffirm their belief in liberty and justice, and observe the nation’s unity.
Many people in the United States honor this day by displaying the American flag at homes and public buildings. Other popular ways of observing this holiday include: flag-raising ceremonies; Flag Day services; school quizzes and essay competitions about the American flag; musical salutes; street parades; and awards for special recognition.
Organizations such as The National Flag Day Foundation are actively involved in coordinating activities centered on the event and keeping the flag’s traditions alive.

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state. Although it is not certain, this flag may have been made by the Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross, who was an official flag maker for the Pennsylvania Navy. The number of stars increased as the new states entered the Union, but the number of stripes stopped at 15 and was later returned to 13.
In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.
So, you ask, what does all this have to do with Stewardship? We are called to be stewards of God’s creation. This includes each other and our physical world.

God comes down to us through creation. Stewardship begins at creation when God gave humanity dominion over all that he had made. God entrusted all of creation to our care—living creatures, plants, land, water and all that is. God has called us to care, nurture, and preserve creation for future generations.

We must remember that in caring for God’s creations, we look after all peoples of all nations. Even if you cannot go fight in a war or become a missionary in a faraway land, you can pray for the lives and souls of those in these foreign lands.

Please also think about those in our own path that we see each day. They are God’s creation. Tending to them may be as simple as a smile when you pass on the street or a mention in your daily prayer.

As you think of Flag Day, be thankful for what our flag represents. We are free to be all that God created us to be!

Stewards of Our Neighbors and Neighborhood

I was talking to someone last week who is new to the area. She said she was wondering why it wasn’t sunny in Southern California. I explained that we were experiencing “May Gray”. Oh, she said, so next week it’ll be sunny? No, I said, then we’ll be in “June Gloom”! Such is the reality of coastal living. But, to quote Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners (for all you old-timers—me included) “How Sweet It is!”

We all know that summer doesn’t start officially for another few weeks, but with the kids getting out of school, it sure feels like it all the same.

Summer brings with it a sea of change in our neighborhoods. Suddenly, the streets are alive with joggers and baby strollers, the smells of backyard barbe¬cue, and the drone of lawn mowers.

As a Christian steward, have you given thought to your responsibility to your neighborhood? We take seriously the scriptural query, “Who is my neigh¬bor?” but do we ever ask, “But what of my neighborhood?” In our grandpar¬ents’ era, when many people lived in small towns and escaped the summer heat by sitting on porches in the muggy evenings, neighborliness came with the territory.

Everybody knew who was having a baby, which family was suffering through illness, who had just experienced a death or a wedding. Problems in the neighborhood were shared concerns. Today, in the era of two-parent wage-earners and automatic garage door openers, it’s easy to come home after a long day, hit a button and watch the neighborhood disappear as we enter the cocoon of our home.

June offers us the opportunity to change that. Do you have a “back fence neighbor”? Maybe now, when he’s out in the yard, is the time to get to know him better. Host a barbecue, or a neighborhood potluck. Invite someone over for an evening iced tea on the patio. If there’s a community picnic, be sure to go and introduce yourself around.

Invite your pastor over for burgers. Go for a long stroll in the early evening and look at your neighborhood with fresh eyes. Stop to visit with people working on their lawns or in their flower beds.

There’s a famous quote: “All politics is local.” Do you know who represents your neighborhood on the city council and on the school board? Are you ac¬quainted with your parish council members? The quote could very well have added that most religion is local as well, alive in our parish. The church, and the community, lives and breathes in the neighborhood. Is there a pressing lo¬cal issue, a speed bump needed or a stop sign missing? Is there a neighborhood clean-up day? Get involved. For the Christian steward, opening our eyes to the people next door or to the folks sitting next to us in the pew can be a great proj¬ect for a sunny summer.

I was meeting with a new parishioner recently and he was talking about neighborhoods not being friendly like “when we were kids”. I boasted that I live on a cul-de-sac and we have a very close-knit neighborhood. Later in the conversation he told me that St. Mary’s feels like a “cul-de-sac church”, friendly and welcoming. I hope you feel that way too.

Ten Tips on How to Confess Well

St. Mary, Star of the Sea parish offers the opportunity to confess your sins and pray for God’s Graces every Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. I am offering the following tips to help you make a good confession (taken from an article on Mercy and Confession by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV.)

IMPROVEMENT/UPGRADING THE RECEPTION: As Catholics, two of the most important actions we can accomplish are to go to Confession and to receive Holy Communion. In these Sacraments, we have a direct contact with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This being the case, we should make a concerted effort to improve our encounters with Jesus in these Sacraments. In other words, we should never take these Sacraments for granted. Also, be keenly aware of the concept of dispositive grace. The abundance of graces are received in direct proportion to the disposition of the recipient. On the walls in the sacristies of the Missionaries of Charity is written: “Say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” We can apply the same principle: “Confess as if it were your first, last and only time.”

PRAYERS BEFORE: All is grace! A source of abundant grace is the Communion of saints. Why not pray to the holy Confessors to help you to make a good confession. Pray to them to help you to confess well—that each confession you make is better than your prior confession.

PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE: Have a good examination of conscience booklet. Find a quiet and contemplative place to examine your conscience. Utilize the crucifix and Divine Mercy image to elicit sorrow and trust. Write down the sins so that you will not forget them once in the confessional. Also, pray for your confessor—to his guardian angel—before you enter the confessional!

SELF-KNOWLEDGE: One of the classical steps to make a good confessional is contrition but also firm purpose of amendment. This entails rewinding the film of your life and seeing the various falls into sin. But also to capture what were the preceeding causes that led to the sin. You will notice often a pattern that is to know oneself and even supply for the necessary knowledge to avoid the near occasion of sin.

BIBLICAL PASSAGES TO PREPARE: The Church highly recommends the use of Sacred Scripture as a means to prepare us for a better reception of the Sacraments. Two excellent passages that are recommended: Lk. 15 and Psalm 51. Luke 15 presents the Parables of God’s Mercy, and the greatest is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By praying Psalm 51, you have one of the best “Acts of Contrition” ever composed, by none other than King David after having committed adultery with Bathsheba and killing an innocent man. Praying the Word of God adds extra power to one’s prayer!

FREQUENT CONFESSION: The saints highly recommend frequent confession as a most efficient means of growing in sanctifying grace. Confession either restores sanctifying grace or augments it. Of course, this presupposes a thorough preparation!

SACRAMENTAL GRACE: Each sacrament communicates grace. However, every sacrament communicates a specific grace pertinent to that sacrament. For example, the grace communicated in the Eucharist is that of Nourishment. The Sacramental grace in Confession is HEALING! Jesus came to feed us with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Time and time again in the Gospels we see Jesus healing.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD CONFESSION: In the Diary of St. Faustina, the most important qualities of a good confession are complete sincerity and openness, humility, and obedience. Adhering to the qualities, one cannot go wrong!

AVOID DISCOURAGEMENT: Even though one might fall frequently, never give in to discouragement. Some badhabits have possibly clung to use for decades. Change is often tedious, laborious, and painful. The key is to keep praying, working, fighting as a true soldier of Christ to be liberated from the shackles of sin.

MARY AND MERCY: Never forget to invite Mary to be present in your remote preparation for Confession, your immediate preparation for Confession. Even ask Mary to enter with you into the Confessional so that you can make the best confession in your life. Among the many beautiful titles of Mary are the following: Mother of Mercy, Mother of Good Counsel, Health of the Sick. Behind many powerful conversations is of course the grace of God but also the maternal intercession of Mary!

Pentecost: A Stewardship Feast to Celebrate

A challenge for the Christian steward is accepting, and even rejoicing in, the fact that our commitment to faith is often a counter-cultural one. Perhaps this is nowhere more striking than in the quick cultural “end” of the Easter season, and our own belief that Easter is leading us through May to the great feast of Pentecost on May 24.

We see this discordance in many Christian celebrations adapted by the popular, commercial culture. While we are still enjoying the season of Christmas and looking forward to Epiphany, most American homes have taken the Christ¬mas tree to the recycling center and moved on to thoughts of Valentine’s Day. During the sacrificial early days of Lent, there’s something jarring – yes, just wrong – about all those pastel Easter eggs and bunnies appearing in stores. And all that chocolate!

So, as Christian stewards, we feel no surprise that as we break our Easter fast and begin our meditation on the Resurrection, we find that the stores have tucked those chocolate bunnies away on discount shelves, and we’re off to the next commercially competitive venture. And as the great feast of Pentecost beckons us, we realize that the society around us gives

this occasion hardly a passing nod. Apparently, there’s no money to be made from Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit came among the apostles and imbued in them the courage to be true followers of Christ. Cour¬age, strength, faith, the Spirit – these are hard to market in the public square, aren’t they? The willingness to live and ultimately to die as martyrs for Christ, as the apostles did, these are things that are hard to package in bright pa¬per. They don’t fit well in the greeting card aisle.

Perhaps during these days of May when we as Catholic stewards continue to celebrate the season of Easter and look forward to Pentecost, we might examine our own willingness to step outside the culture in our celebration of great Christian feast days. Keep the reminders of the Resurrection around you. Let your family prayer reflect the marvels of the season. Help your children to be aware of the liturgical cal¬endar. Explain to them the meaning of the changing colors of the priests’ vestments. Dress up in red for Pentecost Sunday. But most importantly, educate yourself and your family on how powerful it is to understand and celebrate the great markers and mysteries of our shared faith experience.