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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

And With Your Spirit

Eight weeks from now, the new Roman Missal will make its debut at Mass. In case you are hearing about this for the first time, here’s what’s happening: beginning in Advent, we will be using the newly translated words of our most important prayer, the Mass. Translating the liturgical texts from the original Latin has required many years’ work by several qualified groups, including the United States Conference of Bishops and the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. The result is that the new text follows the style of the original Latin texts more closely, and is more formal and dignified.

According to the bishops, the shepherds of the Catholic Church, using the revised translation requires preparation and catechesis for both priests and the faithful. To that end, all of Risen Savior’s clergy – priests and deacons – have been studying and practicing the new words. Several members of our parish have also attended workshops in order to educate themselves and pass the information on to the rest of our congregation.

Articles have been included in our monthly newsletter and in our weekly bulletin to help you learn more about the changes. One-hour workshops are also planned - all in a coordinated attempt to help you feel a little more comfortable about the changes, even though they may seem somewhat minor.

Perhaps one of the more noticeable changes to the English translation of the Mass is the people’s response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you.” Currently, the response is, “And also with you,” but the new translation will have everyone say, “And with your spirit.” We engage in this dialogue with the priest five times during the Mass: at the greeting, before the proclamation of the Gospel, at the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, prior to the offering of peace, and during the Concluding Rites.

Many people are familiar with the original Latin dialogue: “Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo.” The Vatican’s new rules for translation singled out this response to be rendered more closely, saying “Certain expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church, as well as others that have become part of the general human patrimony, are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible,.” While this change and others will be in the missals in the pews, we are going one step further by providing you with cheat sheets; on the first Sunday of Advent, you will find cards in the pews that have the new Mass responses and prayers. It may seem difficult at first, but keep in mind that we are all in this together, priests included!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Saints Cosmas and Damian

In Eucharistic Prayer 1, we pray: “in union with the whole Church, we honor Mary” along with “Joseph, her husband” and a list of twenty-four named apostles and martyrs, ending with Cosmas and Damian. These two men are also invoked in the Litany of the Saints, which we sing at the Easter Vigil. Who are Cosmas and Damian that we ask for their “constant help and protection?”

Saints Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers born in the 3rd century in Cilicia, in what today is Turkey. They became physicians, practicing their profession in a Turkish seaport, and later in the Roman province of Syria. Because they accepted no payment for their services, they attracted many to the Christian faith.

During the Christian persecution under Roman Emperor Diocletian, Cosmas and Damian were arrested and ordered – under torture – to recant their Christian faith. However, according to legend, they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned, and shot by arrows. They ultimately suffered execution by beheading. Three of their younger brothers shared in their martyrdom. The execution took place on September 27th, probably in the year 287.

Following their martyrdom, Cosmas and Damian were regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons, and represented with medical emblems. As early as the 4th century, churches dedicated to the twin saints were established at Jerusalem, in Egypt, and in Mesopotamia. Emperor Justinian I, who ruled in the 6th century, attributed his cure from the bubonic plague to the intercession of Cosmas and Damian. In gratitude, the emperor built a church named for them at Constantinople.

In 1969, the feast day commemorating the martyrdom of Cosmas and Damian in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, which had been celebrated on September 27th for centuries, was moved to September 26th to make room for St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day. In Brazil, the brothers are regarded as protectors of children, and their feast day is celebrated by giving children bags of candy with the saints' image printed on them. Saint Cosmas and Damian Church, built in 1535, is Brazil's oldest church.

Orthodox icons of the saints depict them each holding a spoon for dispensing medicine. The handle of the spoon is shaped like a cross, to indicate the importance of spiritual as well as physical healing, and that all cures ultimately come from God.

While most of us do not anticipate martyrdom for our beliefs, we can follow the holy example of Saints Cosmas and Damian by giving our time and using our gifts in the service of humanity for the glory of God.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Church and the Census

In 2010, the United States conducted a census, just as it has every ten years since 1790 as required by the Constitution. This is important because the results determine the number of seats in Congress that each state receives, as well as the number of electors in the Electoral College. It also determines the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds.

Census-taking has been around since Biblical times, beginning in the book of Exodus, when the Israelites were camped at the base of Mount Sinai; the men over twenty years old were numbered at just over 600,000. The 4th book of the Bible is actually called Numbers because it includes not one census but two. The purpose of taking a census then was not for market research or for purposes of representation, but primarily to get an accurate number of able-bodied men. The last Biblical census mentioned was during the Roman Empire’s occupation, at the time of Jesus’ birth, for the sake of assessing taxes.

According to our database, we have over 3500 families registered in our parish. Many of you are numbered among those. But many others are not. Some of you are actively involved in ministry and are here every week for Mass, but are not in our database, for whatever reason. And many who are registered are registered only nominally.

Our database should be an accurate reflection of our parish population, so Risen Savior is embarking on a census of our own. To that end, we are asking all of our registered parishioners to update their information. To those of you who are not registered but really are part of our parish community, we are asking you to register. Our goal is to accomplish this by the end of January 2012.

As a parish, we offer so much: spiritual and social support ministries; sacramental preparation and reception; formation opportunities; and pastoral care to those in need. While these services are not usually denied to non-registered people, in the interest of good stewardship, especially in these difficult economic times, these resources should be available primarily to our registered parishioners.

If you receive mail from Risen Savior or use the collection envelopes, you are registered. You can sit back and relax - we’ll be working with you in the coming weeks to update your registration. For those of you who know you are not registered, do not receive our mailings, or who aren’t sure, there are cards in the pews for you to fill out and put in the collection basket today.

Prepare to stand up and be counted!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Living With Faith and Hope

Two months after the 9-11 attacks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral message on Living with Faith and Hope After September 11th. What the bishops wrote then applies today, and so our 3-Minute Catechesis this weekend recaps that message of hope:

“It has been said many times that September 11th changed the world. That is true in many ways, but the essential tasks of our community of faith continue with a new urgency and focus. The weeks and months and years ahead will be:

“A time for prayer. We pray for the victims and their families; for our president and national leaders; for police and fire fighters; postal, health care and relief workers; and for military men and women. We pray for an end to terror and violence. We also pray for the Afghan people and for our adversaries.”

It is “A time for teaching. Many Catholics know the Church's teaching on war and peace. Many do not. This is a time to share our principles and values, to invite discussion and continuing dialogue within our Catholic community… We should seek to help our children feel secure and safe in these difficult days.”

“… This is a time to engage in dialogue with Muslims, Jews, fellow Christians, and other faith communities. We need to know more about and understand better other faiths, especially Islam. …”

It is “A time for witness. In our work and communities, we should live our values of mutual respect, human dignity and respect for life ... We should use our voices to protect human life, to seek greater justice, and to pursue peace ...”

It is “A time for service … This is a time for generous and sacrificial giving.”
… It is “A time for solidarity. We are not the first to experience such horrors. We now understand better the daily lot of millions around the world who have long lived under the threat of violence and uncertainty and have refused to give in to fear or despair...”

It is “A time for hope. Above all, we need to turn to God and to one another in hope...”

“Our nation and the Church are being tested in fundamental ways. Our nation has a right and duty to respond and must do so in right ways, seeking to defend the common good and build a more just and peaceful world. Our community of faith has the responsibility to live out in our time the challenges of Jesus in the Beatitudes ... We face these tasks with faith and hope, asking God to protect and guide us …” Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The New Mexico Bishops and Immigration

The spiritual leaders of the Catholic Church in New Mexico are the Roman Catholic Bishops of the three dioceses: Archbishop Sheehan of Santa Fe, Bishop Ramirez of Las Cruces, and Bishop Wall of Gallup. Because of our large Catholic population, they guide over half of our state’s residents. One of their responsibilities is “to inform and educate our church’s members and the public about issues of moral concern and social justice as seen through the eyes of the Catholic faith.”

Almost ten years ago, the Vatican published a Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life. In this Note, we are told that “Among the saints, the Church venerates many men and women who served God through their generous commitment to politics and government. Among these, Saint Thomas More, who was proclaimed Patron of Statesmen and Politicians, gave witness by his martyrdom … he taught by his life and his death that ‘man cannot be separated from God, nor politics from morality.’”

The simple explanation of why Catholics should be concerned about what happens in government is that we are called to live our faith always and everywhere - not just in church. We rely on our spiritual leaders to guide us in issues of faith and morals, even when the guidance they give us is counter-cultural.

To that end, the New Mexico Bishops have spoken out about a variety of political issues which affect Catholics and others. Most recently, in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session, they have addressed the contentious issue of driver licenses for immigrants. This is seen by the Church as a larger issue of “the treatment of migrants in our society, including those laws and public policies that directly impact the justice and dignity experienced by all residents of the State of New Mexico.”

While appreciating the positive impact of immigrants, the New Mexico bishops also “recognize the right of our country to regulate its own borders and to control international immigration. Those controls, however, should be influenced by a sense of justice and mercy in light of the God-given right of people to migrate when faced with grave social or economic dangers.” Our own Scriptures, from Abraham to the Holy Family, are filled with stories of the need to migrate.

As you read the full text of the letter – which can be found in today’s bulletin – you will read that the bishops “understand that many people are frustrated at the current state of affairs surrounding immigration in our state and nation.” However, because we are not just citizens of this country but also citizens of Christ’s Church, our frustration needs to be tempered with love and mercy.