Category: Living Beyond Sunday Blog

Happy New Year! (by Torri Winn)

That’s right…Happy New Year or…Happy 1st day of the New Liturgical Year and the new liturgical year always begins with the season of ADVENT! Advent, from the word “Adventus” which is Latin for “coming,” calls for us to prepare for Christ’s second coming, as we prepare in remembrance of His first coming at Christmas. I always thought it was so appropriate that it comes after the Thanksgiving holiday, as I have always felt that one of the best ways to prepare to receive the Christ-child is to be thankful for all that God has given us, reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today, through prayer, reflection, and special traditions.

Historically, and I seem to be more aware of it at this time, many have gotten caught up in predictions of when Christ will return, forgetting, as the gospel of Mark a few weeks ago told us, even Jesus didn’t know the day of his return. Jesus simply wants us to be ready for His return, whenever that will be. To not let our hearts become “drowsy,” but to be alert and watchful for the signs of His coming. That means we are to be focused on the Lord. It’s easy in our society to get distracted. There are hundreds of things pulling us in different directions, especially this time of year, so we can easily lose focus of what’s most important: our faith. And with that faith comes the promise of the JOY of the Lord – a gift of the Holy Spirit! During Advent, we are called to focus a bit more intently and intentionally on our relationship with God. And whatever may come, we can be as ready as we’ll ever be when Jesus comes, secure in the knowledge that God is with us.

So, I leave you with this thought to ponder as you prepare in the next few weeks for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What do you need in order to ready your heart for Christ’s return?

Happy New Year!!!

Rethinking Our Ways (by Richard DiCarlo)

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Nobody speaks to God these days

I’d like to think he’s looking down and laughing at our ways

It takes a lot to change your plans
And a train to change your mind
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

These are some words to ponder from the song “Maybe It’s Time” sung by Bradley Cooper in the movie, A Star is Born. The lyrics summarize the personal introspection of his character, Jackson Maine, who is seeking to pivot and transform his life towards a different pathway. The beauty of any song’s lyrics when we hear them is that they can be adapted and used to reflect upon one’s own personal life-situation at a given moment. Are we paying attention, adapting, and allowing change? Or, does it “take a train to change your mind” like the song says?

With the holidays fast approaching, we continue to hear the plethora of panic being fed to us about how the supply chain is in disarray and there may not be enough gift items on the shelves to purchase for Christmas. Buy now! Buy quick! It won’t be the same as in years past!

Well, then, maybe it’s time…to minimize our gift purchasing……to design our holidays where we just sit at the table or the living room and reacquaint ourselves with simple conversation with our guests….and God……without looking at our phones……enjoying and appreciating the time we have with those in our presence….begin new traditions that are not consumed around materialism… re-engage in fellowship. Simplicity at its finest. My heart tells me we will prevail. What a great teaching moment for all of us, too, to recognize that sometimes we must relent to things not in our control.

Maybe it’s time….to shed all the angst that comes with getting the newest and better….to just be present to those around us. Maybe it’s time….to allow a form of rebirth into our holiday priorities. Maybe it’s time…to truly recognize the real gift of family and friendship.

Maybe…it’s…time…to (fill in the blank). I like to think we are being given a breath of fresh air to just relent to simplicity.

– Richard

Stewardship During Advent (by Fernando Gomez)

This year’s Advent season will begin on Sunday, November 28. This very special time of year can sometimes get lost in the bright lights of the Christmas season it precedes and its many celebrations around it. The first day of Advent marks the start of a new liturgical calendar and a four-week period of preparation in anticipation of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It also is a time to reflect on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in a time the world seems to have stopped seeking his Love, Grace and Mercy.

We invite you to step away from what can be a frenzied time of parties and shopping and spend a few minutes each day to think about how Advent can inspire your family’s Stewardship lifestyle through its four pillars.

Hospitality – Purposeful Christian Kindness
Prayer – A Heart to Hear with God
Formation – Continuous Conversion
Service – Love in Action

Advent also brings an opportunity to be generous and grateful for all gifts we receive without measure from God. We know we could never pay back God’s generosity! Instead, we celebrate that each of us enjoys a unique share in God’s work of creation and redemption. So, how will you give generously, pray faithfully & serve joyfully this Advent?

– Fernando Gomez

Holiday Traditions (by Kylie Popa)

November is officially here! Can you believe it? The great debate will soon begin: when is it an acceptable time to begin playing Christmas music? If we went by Hallmark’s standards, they already started their Christmas movie countdown two weeks ago! Wherever you stand on the side of the debate, I think we can all agree that November is the beginning of those many wonderful holiday traditions.

I love traditions. I love everything about them. And I may love them a little too much to the extent that last year, when some of those traditions had to look a tad different, it was a tough reality to swallow. However, what I realized is that traditions may change or look different from year to year, but it’s not necessarily about the action itself. Rather it is about the people you are with and the memories you are making.

My family has several traditions during the holiday season, whether it’s a classic movie we watch, a delicious family recipe we bake, a special service we partake in, a certain order we open and exchange gifts, and the list goes on! Each tradition is an opportunity — an opportunity to engage with others, to be present in the moment, and to spread the holiday cheer not necessarily through things, but through moments.

The next big Popa tradition on the calendar is a classic film we watch every year the night before Thanksgiving: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Some parts of the movie are for more mature ears, but we’ve finally surpassed the need to have my dad fast forward through the scenes with super salty language! If you haven’t seen this hilarious and heartwarming classic with John Candy and Steve Martin, it’s the story of an unlikely pair of strangers who end up traveling together on a somewhat crazy adventure in an attempt to make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Two very different personalities sharing a plane, train, and automobile (among many other things!) is the recipe for some good laughs, but also a very endearing message. The Popa’s can be found dying laughing at all the same parts, quoting a few too many lines under our breaths, and most everyone (who stays awake!) tears up at the very last scene. I get chills just thinking about it now.

Planes, Train, and Automobiles is just a movie. Each year it’s the same and it doesn’t change, yet collectively, we all still find so much joy in that hour and 33 minutes together. Some years, not everyone is in town and we have a smaller viewing party. And who knows, one year, that movie might get swapped with another tradition. According to the dictionary, a “tradition” is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society. What are the beliefs and behaviors we are passing down in our families? Rather than just gifts and material possessions, what about passing down more meaningful and lasting things such as kindness to strangers, an emphasis on building community, a more sincere effort to spend quality time in our families, or an increased awareness to give out of poverty rather than surplus, much like the poor woman in this Sunday’s Gospel? When we view traditions as opportunities, we are given the chance to spread the Good News and God’s love in ways we’d never expect. So, as we enter into this holiday season, savor those moments and pass down the things that matter, for those are the traditions that truly last.

All Saints Day (by Sharon Fabyanic)

On November 1, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, a time to take pause and reflect on all those holy women and men who have come before us and those who live among us. As a culture, we love to acknowledge greatness. We celebrate super bowls, world series and Olympic games to identify and celebrate the best athletes. We have spelling bees and geography bees to celebrate the best and the brightest. We choose a valedictorian at graduation to identify who achieved the best grades. Who doesn’t love a glory story? All Saints Day is our opportunity to cherish those holy men and women who lived the gospel with their whole hearts. It wasn’t easy, popular or fun but he said, “Come follow me,” and they did.

I have been blessed to know many people who are saints. They have not been through the process of canonization, and will never have a feast day, but they have lived holy lives. Here on Earth they demonstrated their commitment to the Gospel in ministering to those around them. Just like the canonized saints, many of their lives did not start as glory stories. They struggled, but at some point they experienced conversion. I think most of us can identify someone we know who is a saint in our midst. Their actions and deeds speak to the kingdom in a way that is holy and good. On this holy day we celebrate each of them. We recall that they are praying for us, for our lives, for our struggles and our triumphs. When we pray together at Mass, we pray in communion with saints. All of us, living and dead, unite our prayers as one. While we do not pray to saints, we ask saints to pray for us. We look to the heavens and consider those who walk among us and deeply live the Gospel. We join them in prayer. We recall that as one People of God, we go to God together, praying for one another, celebrating everyday holiness, and especially the strength of those who have lived the Gospel.

On this eve of All Saints Day, All Hallow’s Eve, we remember we are called to be saints. Pope Francis reminded us of that in 2014, when he encouraged us to be saints in our daily lives. For me, that is when it is most difficult to be a saint. In the daily encounters, the comings and goings I fall short often. On All Saint’s Day however, I look to St. Peter, who denied Jesus three times and became the rock of our church. On this day I honor him and all those who came before me, who give hope that we too can live extraordinary virtues in our ordinary lives.

– Sharon

Do you believe? (by John Seliga)

It was late at night when we flew into Cairo. It was too dark to see anything. The next morning we were up before sunrise, and just as the first ray of light shown, I saw the straight line high in the sky. It turned out to be the sun shining off the edge of the Great Pyramid.

I couldn’t believe it – we were that close.

For the next few days we explored Egypt and everyday Fr. Bob found a Catholic place where we had Mass. I proclaimed one of the readings.

I couldn’t believe it.

Crossing the Suez Canal and “coming up out of Egypt” we went North through the Gaza Strip. Palestinian kids with guns bigger than they were met us in white pickup trucks. They escorted us up to the northern border where we crossed the frontier into Israel. We arrived in Jerusalem late at night.

For the next week and a half Fr. Bob found places where our little gang could have Mass.
Jerusalem, Jordan River, Caesarea, Galilee

I couldn’t believe it.

Staying in Caesarea we explored the edge of the Sea of Galilee. At one point we were at a spot just south of Capernaum where we all got on a boat. We were crossing from the East to the West side. The motor of the boat was the only sound as we chugged along a fairly calm sea.
As we got a few miles from shore, a place called Tabka, the ship’s captain announced that he would cut the engines to simulate a quiet sail boat going the rest of the way.

I was standing in the middle of the boat watching the people. I noticed that a few of them were a little teary eyed. I figured it was the wind.
When we got to shore, I asked one of our people about the tears. She said that as she looked out over the Sea of Galilee, and if Jesus was walking on the water and reached out for her to walk to Him, would her faith be strong enough for her to step out of the boat.
It’s a tough one

YOU JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE.

– John.

Two Messages to Ponder (by Mary Permoda)

Have you ever asked yourself, “how did we get here?” How did we end up in this pandemic, in this crazy political scene, trying to navigate a world we have not been in before? Does it seem the more you try to get back to “normal,” the more crazy it gets?You are not alone! It feels like everyone I talk to is asking these questions and is struggling in some way. Yet believe it or not, God has yet to let us down.

I was catching up with a friend who had just come back from the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He said it was the most physically challenging Camino he had done. Then I asked him, “how was it spiritually?” He shared two points that were profound take aways from his pilgrimage. They are simple and you have heard them before …but for us in this day and age of COVID, political and social crazy, too much to do and not enough time, and wondering when the heck we are going to get back to normal …these are two messages to ponder and take to heart.

On the Camino the pilgrims walk and pass by one another regularly. Sometimes they pass you and in the next minute you are passing them. At one point, a couple came up to him and walked with him awhile. The wife didn’t speak english so he pointed to his knee sharing it wasn’t at its best…she said, “poco y poco” ..little by little will get you there.

Further down the Camino two young men caught up with him and they were talking on the way. Again my friend was experiencing some difficulty walking with his knee and his foot. The young man said to him, “one foot in front of the other”…

Remember scripture reminds us that if it is of God, his “yoke is easy and the burden is light.” …if that is not the case, it may be worth reflecting on … We all have heard these sayings throughout our life, but for some reason these two sayings grabbed my heart and really set me free. Free of worry, anxiety that I am not doing enough, not the right thing in the long run and I can’t see the road ahead. I don’t have to have all the answers, the plan, an exact destination of where I am going right now today …little by little it will unfold as it should… patience. And the only way I am going to get anywhere is one foot in front of the other… just do the next right thing.
May we journey together on this pilgrimage of life …little by little, one foot in front of the other… Peace.

– Mary

The Grace of God in Unexpected Places (by Ann Weiss)

We all hear the stories of other people and their journey to a deeper sense of purpose in life. Some of us have wondered, “Why hasn’t that happened to me? Where was God in my life when I needed Him the most?”

Many years ago I found myself in a very dark place with toxic relationships and facing a personal crisis that brought me to my knees. Suffering my whole life from migraine headaches, this one took me to a place begging God to simply show me a way out. Next I found myself headed to church (as you know many people don’t come unless it’s a last resort!). As a child I was brought up in a home across the street from St. Rose of Lima in my small town of 562 people. It was always a source of family and comfort, and lots of music!

So I dragged myself to the local church, sat in a daily Mass and I heard the words we say before communion loud and clear – “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.” Of course the new translation is slightly different now, but for the very first time I HEARD and understood those words. Asked myself if I truly believed it and broke down in a puddle of tears and couldn’t move. On the way back from communion a woman laid her hand on my shoulder and said, ”Don’t worry, Jesus hears you.” As if on cue, the weight of my distress lifted out of my body and mind and I knew that God was real, here in my midst. We all have the opportunity to be that woman for someone else daily. Don’t miss the chance to be that grace of God as one never knows the difference you might make in the life of someone truly in need.

– Ann

Respecting Life (by Megan Popa)

The Catholic Church honors October as “Respect Life Month,” in which we are called to “cherish, defend and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between.” As Catholics, we believe each of us has inherent dignity. The first chapters of Genesis describe God creating the entire world, including humans. After each creation, we read: “and it was good.” We are inherently good because we were created by a good and loving God. Jesus also revealed for us the profound dignity of every human person in taking on human flesh himself, in dwelling among us and in sacrificing his life for us. Clearly “respecting life” is not only something we should think about in October, but this seems to be the underlying theme of everything we believe as Catholics!

I grew up and am still closely involved in the life of my uncle, Art, who has gone through life with various developmental disabilities and suffered from mental illness. Art is funny, empathetic, loves music and he’s the king of trivia when it comes to actors and musicians. He’s also extremely difficult, temperamental, paranoid and often the cause of much stress and anxiety within our family. Yet as a 63 year old man who’s been in and out of group homes and never held a job for more than a few months, he continues to share stories with us each week at family dinner about getting married and having his own family, becoming a famous writer and actor, or opening up his own nightclub. My uncle isn’t what anyone would consider “successful” or a productive member of society and he most likely won’t accomplish any of these goals he talks about. Yet, for those of us that know him and love him, we see his inherent dignity, as a human being and as a child of God.

Respecting life is a broad challenge. It means we welcome the outsider, ensure the poor have the necessities of life, provide support to those suffering from mental illness, stand up against racism, accept those who are different from us, support victims of trafficking or violence, say the immigrant life has value, honor the lives of those with different abilities, show mercy and compassion to those who have done wrong, protect the environment that supports all life… and the list goes on and on!

This October, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on those life issues that are near and dear to our own hearts. And let’s also accept the challenge to broaden our view of respecting life. Where do you notice the dignity of life not being honored with love and compassion? Is there something you can do to help? God invites us this month, and every day of our lives, to view each and every life as sacred and holy, just as he does.

– Megan.

Three Questions (by Gerri Porteous)

Keep these words, that I am commanding you today, in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home.
– Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Our changing world has allowed me time to reflect on my growing up years and the times my family spent together at meals, watching TV, playing games, going on family outings, visiting relatives and friends, solving family issues and attending Mass. My needs were always met with love and care. My wants were not always given to me, but I loved and trusted my parents and knew they loved me just the same. I am so very grateful for the love, care and guidance my parents provided for my siblings and me.

With my own children, I worked hard to provide them with that same solid foundation and taught them to be thankful for what they have and to share with others. I believe that part of the process to happiness is in time spent with family and friends and caring for others and their needs.
More often than not, today’s families look to material things as the process that will make their children truly happy and caring adults … the latest outfit by Juicy and Hollister, the newest items from Tiffany’s and Coach, Play Stations, iPod’s, and cell phones.

The sad reality is that, when these items become a substitute for parental time and nurturing, I witness good families with children who are not in a process to true happiness … children who lack social skills, respect for themselves and others, and who are not liked by their peers no matter how many trendy items they have in their collections. I see children who are lost in a lack of gratefulness and caring for others.

Children of all ages are entering a new school year and some will begin a year of preparing to receive sacraments. I encourage everyone to set aside some family time to answer three questions each week: What am I grateful for? What am I sorry for? Whom did I help today? This little practice can define your family as one that cares. This practice can be the start of helping your children to develop their character, courage, and conscience for an ever-challenging world awaiting them. Reflecting on your day or week may be a start to true to happiness and making the world a better place for all.

– Gerri