A recent survey from the Pew Research Center offered some numbers regarding people identifying their religious affiliation. Ten years ago Catholics were about 23% of the population, with the current percentage down to 20%. “Nones,” those who have no affiliation, are around 25% of the population. No doubt there are changes happening in Christian Communities.
Even though these changes are happening, there is still life among many communities. The first weekend of November our parish celebrated the Rite of Welcome for those seeking full communion with our Catholic family. Adults seeking Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, (others already baptized as Christians seek Confirmation and Eucharist), and those in Family Initiation are on a journey to being in full communion with us at Easter. The number of people interested in Initiation is so great, we needed to add a second Rite.
That same weekend we had six infant baptisms at 10:30 Mass and two more at 5:00 pm Mass. These families recognized the importance of having their children baptized in the faith to begin their journey in following Jesus. My words at the conclusion of the baptisms were, “Move over Church, make room for six more.” Like in any family we simply move down the table to make room for more and the image is perfect for any Christian Community.
So even though we know people are struggling in seeing the need to belong actively to community, there is still life ongoing in our parish and in other communities.
I hope all parishioners realize people come to the faith because they see the life that you are living. They are attracted to how you treat them, care for others, and are willing to serve. Do not undervalue your part in attracting people to our faith.
Peace in Christ,
God is always at work in our lives… even when we cannot see it.
Many Christians and other people are open to praying for many things in life. When difficult circumstances arise, many people are open to having others offer prayers on their behalf. What is true is that prayer can be offered out loud for serious topics and events happening in our country and in the world. Not too many people are offended when such prayers are offered. Christians can pray for national leaders, important issues being debated and even issues that find people on opposite sides. I suppose it is good that “Church people do the praying.” It really does not hurt or offend too many people.
Now if the Christians desire to put prayer into action, which is the response to prayer, then some resistance can happen. When Christians seek to enter into the arena of working with real people and real issues, not everyone is understanding or even supportive. The resistance comes when some feel their side or opinion is not being supported by others, or that Christians really should not express their opinions or get involved in such messy issues. Even the misunderstanding of separation of Church and State is offered in a way that makes it seem Christians should just pray and let other people do the hard work.
My friends, what good is the Gospel of Jesus Christ if Christians do not engage in the world? Prayer without action and involvement in the world is a wasted act. You heard me. The Spirit calls us to be bold, courageous, wise, active and compassionate.
People who want Christians just to pray and do nothing do not know what it means to be Christian Disciples in Mission. St. Patrick and the Catholic Church will continue to enter the arena, wrestle with the issues and seek the common good.
Peace in Christ,
Jesus says he wants to stay at Zacchaeus’ house, a known chief tax collector and much hated. Staying at his house also means Jesus eats at table with him. No wonder people were upset. Are we upset when people come to communion when we judge them not living the right way? Fr. Eric breaks open this question in the homily.
For many years our parish has used the Mission Statement, “Christian Disciples in Mission” to give an understanding of who we are called to be and what we are to do with this calling. For this year our theme is “Grounded in Prayer and Mission.” Again the word mission defines that followers of Jesus Christ are to be active in making people aware that God is present in their lives already.
Jesus uses his disciples, (the 12 and others) to go out into the world and proclaim the good news. The early Church, which includes St. Paul and others, also traveled far and wide on mission for Christ. Mission is to the world, but also is supported by worldly goods.
Jesus and the disciples need money to live, to travel and to care for the human needs of others. They needed to rely on the generosity of people to help their mission. St. Paul and others are shown in the scriptures relying on different communities and certain individuals who gave their resources to help fund the mission and their living accommodations. Jesus, his disciples, and early followers all relied on money to help the mission.
In November, our community will be like Jesus, the disciples and St. Paul and others, calling upon the generosity of all parishioners. The mission we are called to needs to use worldly resources to bring the good news to the world. As we prepare for Stewardship month, giving, praying and serving, we remind all parishioners that we are all on a mission. We are grateful to everyone who offers their gifts for the mission.
Peace in Christ,
Each reading this Sunday gives us an insight into humility and how we live it in our daily lives.
This Sunday marks another “Name Tag Sunday” for our parish. It amazes me how many parishioners take the time to stop by one of the tables to write their names and place the tag on themselves. One only needs to see the entire assembly on such a Sunday to see the vast majority of people have a name tag.
This simple act speaks volumes to the importance of community life for disciples of Jesus Christ. In our world we are seeing a serious breakdown in the need for community, flesh and blood, and a willingness to enter into all that humanity entails. Some use technology to replace the real “flesh and blood” work that relationships and community living require.
A disciple chooses to journey with others in daily life. The small sacrifice of time that it takes to make a name tag shows a powerful willingness to see community life as important. Much of that work happens in the pews, before and after Mass. We have also witnessed the many times parishioners come to the aid of others when something unexpected happens, such as the need to call medical personnel, a car won’t start, and even during storms when trees fall on a vehicle. These are all acts of caring for each other.
I wanted to affirm everyone who chooses to participate in Name Tag Sunday. It is a great witness that community is still necessary and vital in this age of technology.
Peace in Christ,
Our prayers, many times, call God the Almighty… Yet God is also a Vulnerable God. Can we identify with a Mighty God or a God who is willing to be vulnerable? Fr. Eric breaks open this mystery.
While presiding at our Masses, one might wonder what goes through my mind. Many thoughts, as it takes a lot of energy, focus and great care for the words used in preaching and leading.
One thought that often comes to me is how powerful the prayers of the Mass are regarding life after death. At every liturgy we remember those who have died. I find great comfort in the powerful words of our prayers: “Give kind admittance to your Kingdom,” “transform our lowly body after the pattern of his own glorious body.” We even pray for those who are not Christians, remembering all who have sought God with a sincere heart.
All these words give me comfort and hope. We strive to do this at St. Patrick through our funeral ministry from the moment a call comes to us, to the planning of the Mass, to the presence of all our funeral ministers, musician, deacon and priest. The Mass of Resurrection is a reminder that we are to be filled with hope, and that one day we will once again enjoy the friendship of that person in God’s kingdom.
I want to express my gratitude to all those who serve in any capacity in our funeral outreach. I invite everyone to continue to listen to the last part of the Eucharistic prayer as it contains beautiful words that remind us of the life with God forever.
Peace in Christ,
God is not held to human boundaries. God goes beyond such barriers… Disciples are called to do the same.