Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Monday, November 29, 2010

St. Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul was born around 1580 of poor parents in a village in France. He was schooled by Franciscan Fathers, studied theology at the university, and was ordained a priest in 1600. Throughout his life, he had a special place in his heart for the poor.

Father Vincent founded the first conference of charity for the assistance of the poor. He led missions for peasants, joined by other Parisian priests. Nearly everywhere, following most of his missions, a conference of charity was founded for the relief of the poor. With the conferences, St. Vincent instituted open retreats for laymen as well as priests; today it is estimated that in the last 25 years of St. Vincent's life, more than 800 persons attended his retreats annually. These retreats powerfully infused a Christian spirit among the masses. His zeal for souls knew no limit; all occasions were to him opportunities to express it.

When he died at the age of 80, the poor of Paris lost their best friend and a benefactor unsurpassed in modern times. The feast day of the Apostle of Charity, as he is known, is Sept. 27th, and he is the patron of charitable societies. At his death he was the director of eleven seminaries. Vincent was canonized by Clement XII in June 1737.

The legacy of St. Vincent de Paul lives on in charitable societies formed throughout the world. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is an international Roman Catholic organization dedicated to tackling poverty by providing direct practical assistance to anyone in need. It was founded in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam, a University student, and a small group of friends who were challenged to assist the poor of Paris. They chose to call their group the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, based on the exemplary charitable life led by Vincent. The Society now numbers nearly 950 thousand members in 132 countries worldwide, whose members operate through conferences, dedicating their time and resources to help those in need in their community.

Risen Savior's St. Vincent de Paul Society is actually a combined effort with our sister parish, Prince of Peace. To support their efforts, we have a 2nd collection on the first Sunday of every month. The members of our society are also behind our annual Christmas Wish List, which further serves the poor in our community, particularly the children, by providing them with needed clothing. This is one of our "Love Your Neighbor" initiatives for December, and one that Risen Savior has been sponsoring for more than 20 years. Through our participation, we continue the good work of St. Vincent de Paul.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catholic Relief Services

Last month, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities USA and all they do as the largest private network of social services organizations in the country. Another organization that Catholics can claim and take pride in is Catholic Relief Services. Catholic Relief Services, or CRS, was founded by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1943, originally to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, CRS has expanded to more than 100 countries on 5 continents.

The mission of CRS is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people primarily overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic Social teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although their mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS serves people based solely on need, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity.

So how does Catholic Relief Services serve all of God’s people? CRS and its partners work with the poorest farm families and communities, as well as with communities suffering from HIV and AIDS and victims of manmade and natural disasters in 34 countries worldwide. CRS promotes and supports access to quality basic education for all. Education programs have been implemented in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. In the Philippines, CRS helped identify and train local leaders in basic health services.

From earthquake and hurricane-ravaged Haiti to flood-plagued Pakistan to toxic-waste covered Hungary, CRS is there to lend a helping hand.

CRS complements its humanitarian work with policy analysis and advocacy to address root causes of poverty and conflict. They examine the issues that impact the safety and well-being of poor and vulnerable people worldwide, and work with the USCCB to develop public policy positions. In other words, they are advocates, giving voice to those who have none and working to change unfair policies.

While U.S. parishes have a special collection once a year in March to benefit Catholic Relief Services, there is now another way you can join in their efforts. It’s called Celebration Gifts, and it is one of our December “Love Your Neighbor” initiatives. For that person in your life who doesn’t need another “thing,” consider making a donation to CRS on their behalf to mark special occasions. You can find information about it in our December Ministry Monthly and on our website, but the procedure is simple: you pick the occasion and gift amount, and go to the CRS website. CRS will send a beautiful e-card with your personal message. It is a gift with the potential to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters worldwide.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Singing & St. Cecilia

According to the U.S. Catholic Bishops, “God has bestowed upon his people the gift of song.” In the document about music titled Sing to the Lord, the bishops go on to say that “God, the giver of song, is present whenever his people sing his praises.”

“A cry from deep within our being, music is a way for God to lead us to the realm of higher things. As St. Augustine says, “Singing is for the one who loves.” Music is therefore a sign of God’s love for us and of our love for him...By its very nature song has both an individual and a communal dimension. Thus, it is no wonder that singing together in church expresses so well the sacramental presence of God to his people.”

Singing is one of the primary ways that the assembly of the faithful participates actively in the liturgy. The people are encouraged to sing and reminded that “The quality of our participation in such sung praise comes less from our vocal ability than from the desire of our hearts to sing together of our love for God.” In other words, ignore all those people who told you that you can’t sing – you can and should because God wants to hear you sing!

Saint Cecilia is recognized as the patron saint of music, especially church music, because as she was dying a martyr’s death, she sang to God. It is also written that as the musicians played at her wedding, she “sang in her heart to the Lord.” St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown. A religious romance telling the love story of Saint Cecilia and Valerian, a pagan who later converted to Christianity, appeared in Greece during the 4th century A.D., and there is a biography of St. Cecilia dating from the 5th century A.D. Her feast day is celebrated on November 22nd, and musical tributes in honor of St. Cecilia are common this time of year. In our own parish, our combined choirs will present a St. Cecilia concert next Sunday, November 21st at 3:00 PM right here in the church, and you are all invited to attend and sing along.

Those choirs who faithfully lead us in sung prayer every Sunday understand that the most important function of music in the Mass is to unite us in a common act of worship. It is a unifying element that continually calls us to worship as one Body in Christ.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Visiting the Imprisoned

In the Last Judgment story in Matthew 25, Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. The righteous sheep say, “Lord, when did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” The king replies, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

In this parable, Jesus gives a clear command to those who would be his followers: visit those in prison. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews admonishes us to “Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment.” (Hebrews 13:3)

How can we respond to Jesus’ call to visit those in prison?

Those who visit the imprisoned tend to be either family or friends, and chaplains. Most visitors need special permission, so one cannot simply get up in the morning and say: “Today I’m going to visit prisoners.” Consequently, prison visitation remains a fairly rare occurrence for most people.

While our legal system deals with the criminal aspect, the Church takes an active role in a more important element, that of conversion. Prison ministry can have profound effects in the lives of prisoners as well as others affected by crime. It is, first of all, an opportunity to help the prisoner understand his or her actions, since often there is denial of wrongdoing. Comprehensive prison ministry recognizes that families of prisoners as well as the victims and their families must be ministered to; their pain cannot be dismissed. But the main goal of ministry to the incarcerated is salvation. Prisoners can experience a deeper, more expansive freedom, even while incarcerated, if they welcome the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives. Volunteers in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe provide religious education, caring visits, or pastoral counseling.

When it comes to the families of prisoners, the most affected population is the children. These families have special challenges and issues that can be addressed so both parents and children can continue their relationships.

While many of us are not called to prison ministry, we can support those who are. Our Love Your Neighbor drive for November is collecting new toys for the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center’s Annual Christmas Party for families. The celebration is organized for children whose parents are incarcerated at BCMC. Since the parents cannot leave to shop for their children, the toys and games we donate become the “store” for them. Just as buying and donating peanut butter is “feeding the hungry,” our donation of toys makes us part of “visiting the imprisoned.”

Mixing Religion and Politics

It’s the end of October, and you know what that means: late at night, comfortable at home, you may be startled by the doorbell. As you open your door, you will be confronted by a scary sight: no, not children trick-or-treating for candy, but politicians looking for your vote!

In any given campaign year, we are bombarded with commercials, billboards, radio announcements, internet pop-ups, and signs in our neighbors’ yards telling us to vote for this candidate or that. Even here at our parish, in spite of our pastor’s protests, pamphlets have been placed on cars in the parking lot every Sunday for weeks.

What’s the deal? Shouldn’t we be keeping religion and politics far, far apart? Isn’t there supposed to be a separation of church and state?

A misconception among many Christians is that we must keep our faith life apart from our secular life. In truth, participation in political life on the part of Catholics and all Christians is vital, necessary, and essential. This is the bishops’ message in the document Faithful Citizenship. We are all bound by our baptismal call to go out into the world, preaching Jesus’ message of salvation, love, and compassion.

For Catholics, keeping faith separate from other parts of our lives is impossible. Our faith is an integral part of who we are. We come to Mass every Sunday and are transformed by both the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ. That transformation is not something that can be turned off and on, depending on whether you are at church or in the voting booth.

So what is a Catholic voter to do?

As Catholics, we believe that a well-informed conscience is essential in any political decision. We have an obligation to carefully discern the decisions we make about the future of our country. We form our consciences as we listen to and live the Gospel. Each of us, as we grow older and wiser, has the opportunity to develop our own thoughts and opinions on the issues facing our country. We also have an obligation to educate ourselves about the candidates and the impact of proposed statutes. It’s very plain: neither political party represents the fullness of the Church’s teaching of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. If we simply vote based on party lines or by randomly choosing candidates, we are committing a disservice to our country, to ourselves, and, more importantly, to our faith.

Our vote in any election should be the result of our careful discernment of the issues and candidates. The Catholic Church does not tell you who to vote for, but the Church does offer opportunities in forming your conscience which will help you make good decisions in the voting booth.