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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Love and Labor Movements

In the past couple of months, a group called Occupy or (un) Occupy Wall Street has made national news in this country as they protest the abuses of big banks and lending institutions. There is even a faction in the UNM area of Albuquerque. Like others we have witnessed through the years, it is a movement to peacefully protest and ultimately change the status quo. It brings back memories of another non-violent movement, one led by Cesar Chavez in the 1960s and 70s.

Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona and raised during the poverty of the Great Depression. His Catholic parents raised him to remember that there was always room for one more at their dinner table. After losing their home and business, the Chavez family moved to California and became migrant farm workers. The family would pick peas and lettuce in the winter, cherries and beans in the spring, corn and grapes in the summer, and cotton in the fall.

As an adult, Chavez served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he met a priest who ministered to the Mexican and Mexican-American migrant workers. The priest shared with Chavez the Catholic teachings concerning the rights of workers, which intrigued Chavez, who became determined to learn more. As a result of what he learned, he soon became active in drives for voter registration and in countering abuses against working immigrants. The primary concerns were higher wages for the grossly underpaid workers and stopping the use of toxic pesticides on grapes, a practice which endangered the health of everyone in and around the vineyards.
Influenced by the Catholic tradition of doing penance, part of Chavez’ nonviolent protest against the injustices was praying and fasting, often for weeks.

His organizing efforts were instrumental in the creation of the United Farm Workers Union. To get growers to recognize the union and listen to their concerns, Chavez used the strategy of consumer boycotts. At one point, millions of Americans supported the grape boycott. Chavez eventually got the United States’ bishops to intervene and mediate the conflict. The nationwide support was in part due to Chavez’ nonviolent approach, which publicized and made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause.

Having educated himself in the social teaching of the Church, Cesar Chavez was led by his Catholic faith to improve the lives and livelihood of America’s farm workers.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

3-Minute Catechesis Week 162 – Pope Benedict’s Message to Young People

World Youth Day began twenty-six years ago when Pope John Paul II invited young people to meet with him in Rome to celebrate their faith. On this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we listen to an excerpt from Pope Benedict’s message to the youth of the Church, and to all of us:

“... In thinking of my own youth, I realize that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people (today). True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. ... We wanted to discover life itself: to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation.

“... Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. ... The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear His "imprint”.... We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfillment and joy.

“In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today's culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel - values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family - we see a certain "eclipse of God" taking place, a kind of amnesia which … is a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.

“For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. … As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives …

“Dear young people, the Church depends on you! … Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Look Around the Church

Anyone unfamiliar with the inside of a Catholic Church would be a little confused on their first visit. What are those things hanging on the wall? What is that raised area with a table? Why are we sitting on benches rather than chairs? Why is there water at the entrances?

Those of us who grew up in the Catholic Church can enter any other parish and feel almost at home. The church building is a familiar place to us, and we recognize common elements in other Catholic churches as well as in the Mass, no matter how far from home we go.

Because there are many things in a church that have always been there, we don’t often think about them enough to question what they are and why they’re there. It often takes a visitor to the parish or a child asking, “What is that?” to make us stop and ask the question ourselves and search for an answer.

So, on occasions like today, our 3-Minute Catechesis will answer some of these common questions, based on inquiries we have received.

We begin with the ambo. Why do we call the podium an “ambo”? Is this a special religious term? The answer is that the piece of furniture from which the readings are proclaimed and the homily often delivered is not a podium. A podium is something you stand on, like a soapbox, which is used to raise the height of a speaker.

In many Christian churches, there are two speakers' stands at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left (as viewed by the congregation) is called the pulpit. Since the Gospel is often read from the pulpit, that side of the church is sometimes called the gospel side.

The other speaker's stand, usually on the right, is known as the lectern. The word lectern comes from the Latin word lectus, from a word meaning to read, because the lectern is mainly a reading stand. It is typically used by lay people to read Scripture from the Lectionary, to lead the congregation in prayer, as a cantor might, and to make announcements. Because the 2nd reading is most often taken from a letter or epistle, the lectern side of the church is sometimes called the epistle side.

The word ambo comes from a Greek word meaning an elevation, and it was originally an elaborate raised platform in the middle of the nave where Scripture would be read, and was occasionally used as a speaker's platform for homilies. In churches where there is only one speaker's stand, like Risen Savior, it serves the functions of both lectern and pulpit, and is properly called the ambo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Kingdom of God

For the past few weeks, the Liturgy of the Word has had us in the vineyard, not casually drinking a glass of wine, but learning about the “kingdom of God” and who shares in it. What is meant by this image of the “kingdom of God?”

The phrase “kingdom of God,” also translated as “reign of God” or “dominion of God,” appears 150 times in the New Testament. It is a rich metaphor that has roots in the Old Testament. Although the precise phrase “kingdom of God” is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament gives God the title “king” many times to illustrate His relationship to Israel, to history, and to all of creation.

The “kingdom of God” as defined by Jesus goes beyond the Old Testament meaning of a king and the land he rules. To figure out what Jesus meant by the “kingdom of God,” we look to the gospels. His ministry to the poor and downtrodden and his fellowship with sinners were defining characteristics of his public ministry of healing and reconciliation. He called attention to the meals he shared with those less fortunate as symbolic expressions of the arrival of God’s reign. Jesus’ parables often used the meal as metaphor for some bigger truth of the kingdom. What is that truth?

That Jesus established God’s kingdom as just and inclusive, without boundaries and with the promise of salvation - and not to a limited number of people. The Catechism of the Catholic Church assures us that His saving mission is extended to all without limit (CCC 543). The gospel stories, which illustrate the healing worked by Jesus and his inclusion of outcasts, show that the “kingdom of God” is an experience of salvation for all. In fact, Jesus himself announces, as he works a healing miracle, that the kingdom of God “has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20).

It is important to note that the Church is linked to the idea of the kingdom of God. On earth, the church is the seedbed for the kingdom, but it is not exactly one and the same. The Second Vatican Council taught that the mystery of the Church is founded on Jesus’ announcement of the good news of the kingdom. Jesus is the head and lifeblood of the Church, and we cannot talk about the “kingdom of God” without reference to Christ. It follows, then, that the Church and the kingdom are twin vines in the vineyard of the salvation story.

As we worship together, we remember that we are charged with the sacred duty to do our part to bring about God's kingdom on earth by following Jesus' example of inclusion.