Sunday, December 28, 2014
As we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord during this Christmas season, we understand the coming of Jesus Christ is the defining moment of human history. Jesus is not just one more fact in history, He is the decisive fact. Our encounter with Him is an encounter like none other. Jesus did not come into the world so that He could learn what it means to be human; He came into the world so that we could learn what God is like, and what he expects from us.
When Jesus returned to the Father He didn’t leave us. The Holy Spirit, the same spirit that descended upon Jesus at His baptism descended upon the Apostles and remains with His Church, and with us today. He also remains with us in the Holy Eucharist. When we receive Communion we are receiving Jesus Himself in the most intimate of ways. We take Him into ourselves and He becomes part of us and we become part of His body.
The gift of the communion we receive with Christ is not meant for us to keep; it is meant for us to live and share with others. To help us explore and live this communion in and with Christ, Risen Savior is again participating in the Lenten series called “Living the Eucharist.” Father Tim encourages every member of the parish to sign up and participate in one of the many small groups that will gather during Lent. Those who participated last year are invited to come back: the readings this year are new, following this year’s cycle of Sunday readings. Those who didn’t participate last year are welcome to join this year – you aren’t behind those who have gathered before.
Living the Eucharist is a minor commitment of time. Groups meet for approximately 90 minutes a week for the six weeks of Lent. There will be groups that meet on weekdays and weekends; mornings and evenings; here at Risen Savior and in individual homes. Small groups will meet at a time and a place that will be convenient for everyone.
Lent begins in a few very short weeks. There are sign-up forms in the Bulletin this week and they will be in the pews the first two weeks of January. By signing up early we can make certain we order enough materials and are able to get you into the time slot that is most convenient for you.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
All we do as the People of God centers round the Pascal Mystery – the Life, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our rhythm of celebrating the Pascal Mystery occurs in three clocks: daily in the Liturgy of the Hours, weekly on the Lord’s Day, and annually in the Liturgical Year.
By recalling the mysteries of our redemption in this way, the Church opens us to the riches of her Lord’s powers and merits, so that they are made present to us. It’s as if the Pascal Mystery is too much for us to take in all at once, and we need to break it into bite-sized pieces.
Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent and ending with the Feast of Christ the King the Church celebrates the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The year itself is broken down into three distinct periods.
The first of these periods is Advent and Christmas. We anticipate, then celebrate God coming into human history. The second period is Lent and Easter where we enter into the events that led up to Jesus’ death and then celebrate his resurrection and ascension into heaven. The final period we call “Ordinary” Time, but there’s nothing ordinary about it. The word “ordinary” comes from the word “ordinal,” which is how the weeks are numbered: first, second, third, etc.
Each of these seasons have a different feel to them and we can recognize the change of season by the different color vestments the clergy wear as well as the colors of our banners and altar decorations.
The use of colors to differentiate the liturgical seasons became a common practice about the fourth century. Today, four colors are used to express the emotions and ideas that are associated with each of the seasons of the liturgical year.
Purple is the ancient royal color and is a sign of repentence. We wear it during Advent and Lent.
White reminds us of the brightness of day and that Jesus is the Light of the World. We wear it during the Christmas and Easter seasons as well as for the great feasts of the year.
Red evokes the color of blood, and is the color of martyrs and Christ’s death on the cross. It is also worn on the feasts of the Apostles.
And the rest of the year, when we’re counting out our Ordinal Time? We wear green which represents living things and the promise of new life.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Most of us are aware that we cannot celebrate Mass without a priest. While this no doubt makes our priests feel needed, it can have the unfortunate side effect of leading some of faithful to think that Mass is something that the priest “does” for the rest of the Church. In reality, the Mass is something that we all do together. A priest is here to lead the community, but they need you to worship with, too.
The first part of the Roman Missal, the big red book which contains the prayers we use at Mass, is called the “General Instructions.” It says that “the celebration of the Eucharist is an action of the whole Church,” all of us. It goes on to say that “this people nevertheless grows in holiness by its conscious, active, and fruitful participation” in the
The Second Vatican Council called everyone who gathers for Mass; be it priest, deacon or the lay faithful, to “full, conscious, and active participation.” As a matter of fact, the world’s bishops said that this was to be the, “aim to be considered before all else,” in our celebration of the
The bishops were so concerned about this
because they recognized that this kind of participation “is the primary and
indispensable source from which [we] are to derive the true Christian
spirit.” It is by our taking part in the
offering of the Mass that we are to become more and more like Christ. It is our primary path to holiness. Mass.
The Council fathers insisted that our participation in Mass is both a right and a duty by reason of our baptism, because through baptism, to quote St. Peter, we have become “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.” We all share in the priesthood of Christ; you as the royal priesthood and the priest in the ministerial priesthood, and it is Christ who offers his sacrifice to the Father whenever we, all of us, celebrate the Mass. The priest is the Presider of the Mass; but we are all the celebrants.
Sometimes we may think that our presence or our participation doesn’t much matter. But each one of us is important to the celebration of the liturgy. We each have a job to do that no one else can do for us. Only together can we offer God proper worship.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Angels are in. Angels are hot. Images of winged creatures are appearing on greeting cards, gift wrap, pins, pendants, book covers and bumper stickers. Manufacturers and merchants are cashing in on the public's renewed interest in these celestial beings, but how much of what is being said, written and illustrated is fact? And how much is fiction?
Here's what the Church teaches.
Angels are real. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 328-336) teaches us that God created the spiritual, bodiless beings we call angels. The Church bases this teaching on both Scripture and Tradition. Each angel has intelligence and will, and each is a personal and immortal creature. In other words, each heavenly angel is a unique being who has chosen to love and serve God, its Creator. It is a being who will never die.
Angels are different from humans. Angels are 100 percent spirit; humans are both spirit and body. A human’s soul is immortal, but our body is not. At death our soul leaves our bodies, but just because we don’t have a body for a while, it doesn’t mean we become angels. We will receive glorified bodies at the end of time when Jesus comes again. The angels are and always will be spirits with no bodies.
Just like us, angels are capable of temptation. We know, as the Catechism teaches us, that some angels turned away from God – they sinned. We don’t know exactly what they did wrong, but their “fall” was a result of their rejection of God and His reign. We also know that since the beginning of humans’ time on earth, the devil, a fallen angel, has encouraged us to also reject God.
Throughout our lives God's angels are there to offer care and intercession. St. Basil the Great (who died in A.D. 379) said, "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Many of us grew up praying to our Guardian Angel for protection and Catholic school children were taught to scoot over in their seats to make room for their guardian angels.
The word “angel” comes from a Greek word meaning “messenger.” The word doesn't describe what these beings are, but what they do. They deliver.
The current craze fueling the angel marketing bonanza may fizzle out before too long, but it's a safe bet that angels are going to be around for a long, long time. They are, after all, immortal.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
The Catholic Church encourages everyone who can vote to vote. The Church does not say for whom to vote but it does tell us how.
How are we to vote? Unlike some Congregational Churches that are handing out sample ballots marked with the candidates they suggest you vote for, the church calls us to use an informed conscience. We are called to look past the flyers that are in our mailboxes each morning and the ads that fill our television hours in the evening. We are called to read and research, listen and think, and to make up our own minds.
We are a nation founded on "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but the right to life itself is not fully protected, not for the unborn, not for the elderly, not for prisoners. We are called to be peacemakers in a nation at war. We are a country pledged to pursue "liberty and justice for all," but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity, and economic inequality. We are a nation of immigrants, struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst. We are a society built on the strength of our families, called to defend marriage and offer moral and economic supports for family life. We are a powerful nation in a violent world, confronting terror and trying to build a safer, more just, more peaceful world. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty and lack health care and other necessities of life. We are part of a global community facing urgent threats to the environment that must sustain not only us but also the generations to follow.
These challenges are at the heart of the pursuit of the common good. And these are the challenges that we face when we begin to consider how to use our vote.
Our faith teaches that we have an obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of our society. We are our brothers’ keepers, and our neighbor is everyone we encounter.
Some may question whether it is appropriate for the Church to play a role in political life. But the obligation to teach about moral values that shape our lives, including our public lives, is central to the mission given us by Jesus Christ.
Inform your conscience. Cast your vote. Make a difference.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Next Sunday the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls. The Church prays for and remembers the faithful departed throughout the entire year. However, All Souls’ Day is the general, solemn, day of commemoration, when the Church remembers, prays for, and offers Masses for the faithful departed.
Christians have been praying for their departed brothers and sisters since the earliest days of Christianity. Early inscriptions on catacomb walls attest to the ancientness of prayers for the dead, even if the Church needed more time to develop a substantial theology behind the practice.
In the early Church, departed Christians' names were placed on diptychs – a hinged painting that closes like a book. In the sixth century, Benedictine communities held commemorations for the departed on the feast of Pentecost. All Souls' Day became a universal festival largely on account of these Benedictines.
The feast soon spread, and today all Western Catholics celebrate All Souls' Day on November 2nd, as do many Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Christians. Initially many Protestant reformers rejected All Souls' Day because of the theology behind the feast (Purgatory and prayers/masses for the dead), but the feast is now being celebrated in many Protestant communities.
There are many customs associated with All Souls’ Day, and these vary greatly from culture to culture. In Mexico they celebrate All Souls’ Day as el dia de los muertos, or "the day of the dead." Customs include going to a graveyard to have a picnic, eating skull-shaped candy, and leaving food out for dead relatives. If all of this seems a little morbid, remember that all cultures deal with death in different manners. The Western aversion to anything related to death is not present in other cultures. In the Philippines, on the eve of All Souls’, partiers go door-to-door, requesting gifts and singing a traditional verse representing the liberation of holy souls from Purgatory. In Hungary, a common custom is inviting orphans into the family and giving them food, clothes, and toys. As a sign of welcome, Poles leave their windows and doors ajar on the night of All Souls’ Day for the spirits of their loved ones to come and visit.
At Mass next weekend, we ask all parishioners to bring a photograph of a loved one who has passed whose soul you would like lifted up. We will pray for all the departed with our loved ones in our midst.
Praying for the dead goes back to the Hebrew Scriptures. Saint Paul prayed for the dead and we continue to do so today. For those who have died are changed, not gone, and continue to benefit by our prayers.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
This weekend in Rome, the Holy Father beatified Pope Paul VI, the last step toward him being named a Saint. Blessed Paul VI was elected Pope upon the death of Pope John XXIII who was named a Saint this past April. John had called the world’s bishops together for the Second Vatican Council which ended upon his death in 1963. To replace John, the cardinals elected Giovanni Cardinal Montini believing the Archbishop of Milan would let the Council go quietly into history. John had planned for the Council to reconvene in 1965. Upon his election Paul VI made the announcement that the Council couldn't wait and he ordered the Bishops of the World to reconvene in less than one year.
Before the Council even met the most extensive consultation of bishops in the history of the church had produced over nine thousand proposals for the agenda. The bishops kept in mind that the pope insisted that the council work not only to renew the spiritual life of the Catholic Church, but also to look toward the reunification of all Christianity.
The Council met in four sessions over the autumns between 1962 and 1965. The first session was by far the most dramatic and set the direction for the other three. It saw the world's bishops clearly opt for substantial liturgical reform - calling for the Church to look at how the earliest Christians worshipped and to restore the Mass and the role of the laity.
Blessed Paul VI presided over the last three sessions and saw the bishops produce sixteen documents, all of which passed by overwhelming majorities. For example, the document that changed how Mass is celebrated, "The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" was approved by a margin of 2,147 to 4.
The council over which Paul presided saw that there was scarcely an element in the Catholic Church’s internal life or in its relationship with others that was unaffected. We can thank Blessed Paul for seeing that all of the Rites we celebrate were reformed and are celebrated in the languages we speak; Sacred Scripture is more central to our worship and its study is now common among Catholics; lay women and men now serve in ministries and have more opportunities for participation.
Externally, dialogue has replaced suspicion in relations with other Christian communities, with other religions, and with the world itself. The Catholic Church sees itself as a partner in the common task of creating a more human world.
It is no exaggeration to say that Paul VI is truly great having overseen the overhaul of the largest organization in the world, and having done so with love.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
If you’ve ever attended either our 9:30 or 11:00 o’clock Masses you’ve probably noticed Deacon or Father dismissing children aged from six to twelve years old after the opening prayer. You may have wondered why the children are being sent from our midst and what they’re doing while they’re gone.
For many years Risen Savior has had a Liturgy of the Word for children. It is there that they listen to the readings from Sacred Scripture written to their level of understanding. The first reading is done by one of the children; a special honor for any child and one they take very seriously. Their adult leader proclaims the Gospel after the children have sung their alleluia. Following the Gospel proclamation the children, with the help of the leader, discuss the readings and how they are relevant to their lives. They complete their Liturgy of the Word with prayers of intercession, their voices raised in “Lord, hear our prayer.”
Not only does the Liturgy of the Word allow our children to come to understand the teachings of Christ at their own level, but it also encourages participation from even the youngest in the group.
Children’s Liturgy of the Word has been part of our parish for many years, and we would love to keep it going. Adult volunteers are desperately needed as leaders and as chaperones. The role of leader includes training to help facilitate elementary aged children in their learning process. Chaperones assist the leader in watching the children and in maintaining a positive learning environment.
The few leaders who are currently participating have been serving for a number of years, and while they enjoy their ministry, we would like to have enough leaders and chaperones so no one need serve more than once a month – a goal we are certain we can meet with your help.
What qualifications need a leader have? One doesn’t need to have school-aged children or be a teacher. One only needs an open heart and a desire to share their faith with others. The role of chaperone is even easier! Be willing to escort the children to the library and watch them while they learn.
As with all ministries, those who desire to participate must have attended the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Safe Environment Workshop. Our children’s safety and future are of the utmost importance to us. Won’t you help? Contact Barbara here at the parish if you’d like to volunteer or for more information.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
October is Respect Life Month for Catholic parishes in the United States. But what does it really mean to respect life?
As Catholics, we understand that because life begins at conception, abortion is wrong. The Catechism says, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. …” (Paragraph 2270) For this reason, we must be concerned with protecting the lives of unborn children. For some, that means praying outside clinics or volunteering at organizations that support unwed mothers; for others, it means working to change a system that disenfranchises young, unwed pregnant women.
But being pro-life involves so much more, and as Catholics, we are called to be pro-life even when it is difficult. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wants us to broaden the scope of our parish pro-life activities by pointing out life issues deserving of our attention and efforts: Capital Punishment; People Living with Disabilities; End of Life Issues; Health Care; War; and Hunger, to name just a few.
Our American bishops teach us that, “Increasingly, our society looks to violent measures to deal with some of our most difficult social problems – millions of abortions to address problem pregnancies, advocacy of euthanasia and assisted suicide to cope with the burdens of age and illness, and increased reliance on the death penalty to deal with crime. We are tragically turning to violence in the search for quick and easy answers to complex human problems…”
As we consider our stand on life issues, we must embrace the concept that being pro-life is more than simply being anti-abortion. It is not for us to judge which lives are innocent and which are not – that discernment is for God alone. Rather, we must believe, as the Catechism tells us, that every human life is sacred because we are all made in the image and likeness of God. (Paragraph 2319) “Our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each and every human life…”
Respecting life means that we speak up for the rights of workers and for a just wage for all Respecting life means we find a way to treat immigrants with love whether they’ve crossed civil borders with papers or without. Respecting life means that all of God’s children are giving the opportunities to a full, healthy, and nurturing life without being denied it by governments or individuals.
All life is sacred. All life is from God. All life is to be respected.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
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
. 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. Paris
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.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
If we are honest with ourselves we recognize that we are wounded and we seek healing. Our inner selves have been wounded or broken. Our home lives may include abuse or neglect, or lack affirming conversation. And certainly our city, nation, and world need the healing power of God.
Beginning Sunday, September 28th we will begin monthly healing services here at Risen Savior. These services are not Mass, but rather a prayer opportunity to be healed.
This will be a new experience in prayer for our parish. These monthly prayer services will take us into the some of the deepest and therefore most uncomfortable places in our soul. Our comfort culture is a restless, noisy and agitated environment. Our homes and hearts are driven by schedules, commitments, events, school, sports, and even church events. Anxiety, depression, and anger can fill our days. Our culture can confuse fixing with healing. Healing is a prayer skill. It is a daily out-of-the-way place for us to journey.
This first of the healing services will focus on the healing of memories. Memories can be either blessings or curses. The healing of memories service is a liturgy of the Word which will lead us into our deeper self. This service takes us through a guided meditation into our past. We all carry memories beyond what words can identify and those memories shape us. When Jesus says “do in memory of me”, He is talking about everything we do—literally, everything.
The guided meditation of this first healing prayer service begins with what most of us would even call pre-memory with the pre-verbal time of conception, the womb, birth and early infancy. We have memories even before we remember. Trauma can cause and block memory. Blessing can cause and build memory. We all carry much within.
Our souls cannot NOT heal. The spiritual life unfolds whether we try to make it happen or not. It is not so much saying prayer as being prayer. Every time we gather in church or at home or at work or wherever, we are prayer. Prayers are not what we do; prayers are who we are. Healing prayers make us more Christ-like. The wounded soul seeks His remedy.
Hopefully you will hear the call to some deeper prayer in these monthly services of healing. To be hospitable we need to welcome and heal the wounded. The hurt of our world is great. The Risen Savior is on duty.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
In late July, three of our high school youth attended the Christian Leadership Institute sponsored by the Archdiocesan Youth and Young Adult Office in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The following are their reflections they wanted to share with the parish.
It has been thirty-five years since Archbishop Sanchez named Risen Savior a parish. Over those years many traditions have formed that have helped define us as a community. Among those traditions are an annual Parish Picnic and Parish Missions.
This year we are pleased that Father Jimmy Marchionda will be returning to lead us in mission. He will present “The Passion, Power, and Privilege of Prayer” beginning on Thursday, September 18th at 6:30 in the evening. He will present a second session the next evening, Friday, also at 6:30, and conclude with Mass on Saturday at 4:00 PM. If you were here for his mission last November you know how he mixes his preaching with music to fill our senses and lift our spirits.
If you have never been to a Parish Mission you may be wondering what it is. A Parish Mission is a parish awakening! It is a time for the whole parish to come together to reflect upon God's Word, to renew our faith, and to pray with open hearts and hands. Father Marchionda has led missions around the country and the world. He is a top Catholic musical composer and one of his songs was even sung at Mother Teresa’s funeral. All of us are invited to this life-awakening event.
Following the Mass on Saturday the 20th we will celebrate our parish’s 34th annual Parish Picnic! We will have food and fun, entertainment and games beginning at 5:00 PM. The parish will provide the burgers and sides and we ask every family to bring a dessert to share. As a special treat, Father Marchionda is pulling together a jazz band to entertain us during the picnic. This group will include other noted Catholic musicians and will keep our toes tapping as we enjoy the evening together.
In recognition of the years our parish community has been together we will display the Parish History Project that Archbishop Sheehan asked all the parishes in the Archdiocese to complete. We are excited to display our history and to acknowledge our parishioner Joshua Struck, who with a team of Boy Scouts, spent hours combing through our archives to make this project a reality. Joshua prepared this as his Eagle Scout project and he and his team did an outstanding job. The boards will be on display in the Gathering Hall during the picnic.
Come to the mission. Come to the picnic. Have your spiritual and physical hunger filled.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
In late July, three of our high school youth attended the Christian Leadership Institute sponsored by the Archdiocesan Youth and Young Adult Office in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The following are their reflections they wanted to share with the parish.
CLI is a weeklong camp for youth and young adults. Its purpose is to help individuals grow in faith, leadership skills, and to meet new people. Not only is it a learning experience, but a week full of fun as well. We participated in many community building activities to really grow as a family in faith. We had nighty dinners that each team was in charge of. They were a great time and we all participated. After that, everyone would gather and spend time with our new friends, having dances, games, and talent shows. We also had daily communion services or Mass and prayer services that were located around Las Vegas. Even the workshops were fun and informative.
We took part in eight two hour workshops which included lectures, games, and discussions. We learned about the importance of group dynamics, communication, decision making, and planning. In one workshop, the three of us got together and planned new events for our church that we would like to make possible. One of our ideas is to have monthly youth group meetings at a nearby Dion’s restaurant in order to encourage more youth to become involved. We will discuss contemporary issues in the lives of teenagers and relate them to our faith and the word of God. All youth will be welcome; the meetings will be non-denominational so when you hear about it, tell your friends as well! Keep both eyes and ears open for when the meeting announcements are made!
Not only did we attend workshops to help us learn more about leadership, but also to learn more about or faith and our love. Three of the workshops were about morality, prayer, and gratitude. Two days before the camp was concluded, our group leaders asked us to think about the one person in our lives to whom we owe the most gratitude. We then wrote that person a letter, thanking them for being influential in our lives. After everyone finished writing, we watched a video on the scientific study of the effect of gratitude on an individual’s level of happiness. Those who gave thanks often were statistically happier than those who don’t. After watching the video, we were told to call the person we addressed our letter to and read it to them. It isn’t every day that we tell people how much we appreciate them! It was very emotional. One of the things we learned that touched us was that showing gratitude can not only improve another person’s life, but your own as well. Who would you have written to?
We ask that all of you continue to support our youth as we build our program. Please pray for us as the Holy Spirit works through us and as we grow as better Christian teenagers. Any teens interested in becoming involved, please contact our Youth Minister, Carrie Anaya. You can reach her by calling 821-1571 ext. 109 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
My name is Raymond M. Jones. I have been a catechist and leader in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults ministry for over 25 years in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe--the last 15 years being at the Aquinas Newman Center and Holy Ghost parish.
For those who are not familiar with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)—it is a parish community based ministry. It is not classes for “converts” or classes on how to become a Roman Catholic. RCIA is a faith based process or faith journey by which those who have not been baptized, were baptized or raised in other faith traditions, or were raised Catholic but did not receive First Eucharist and Confirmation are received into Full Communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
I am honored to accept Fr. Martinez’s invitation to continue this ministry with Risen Savior Catholic Community to encourage all of you to identify what you treasure as Roman Catholics and become the examples and mentors to those who would explore joining their faith journeys to ours. My role as RCIA Coordinator is one of motivating and assisting Risen Savior as a community to embrace opportunities to pray for, pray with, encourage and support those who will journey to Baptism or Full Communion in the Roman Catholic faith by way of this initiation process. I and the RCIA Team members will be your representatives, sojourning personally with each person as they express their interest in our faith and seeking the paths to become one with us in faith through Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, the task is not all mine or the team’s. You—Risen Savior –are the initiating community. As a group, we are blessed by the addition of many good people to our faith community. So, as a community we place those talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit made manifest to welcome, bless, encourage, mentor, and witness the love of Jesus. Our mission is to build the Kingdom of God and be the living body of Christ working together to transform this world.
My role is to be witness to, with, and for you. I invite you to be sponsors in their journeys, sharers of the Word in their reflection time during dismissal from our Eucharistic celebration; witnesses to those corporal works of mercy done by you as joyful laborers in the vineyards of God –so that as they grow in faith shared with us—our community truly learns what St. Augustine meant when he said “You are the only Christ that someone may ever meet.” Pray for me, pray for us, and pray for them. I look forward to sharing my love of our common faith with all of you.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
What does it mean to be Catholic. For most it means that one is a member of the Catholic Church, believes what the Church teaches, and does what Catholics do. But the most radical sense of being Catholic is to view the created world as a sacrament of the divine, that is, as something that both points to and makes present God's saving grace.
We believe that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. In Jesus, God took on our humanity and made it his own. In this way the humanity of Jesus reveals his divinity. It also changes our understanding of the relationship between the Creator and his creation. In the humanity of Jesus -- his flesh and blood -- he reveals and makes present his divinity, and all creation is raised to a new dignity by virtue of God's self-revelation. This becomes especially apparent when we consider the church.
The faults and failings of the church are all too apparent, and its humanity is certainly evident in the people who belong to it. Yet Catholics believe that despite its limitations the church has been chosen and made holy by God to be a sacrament of Jesus Christ, to embody his person and mission and to both point to him and make him present in the work that it does in his name.
It is for this reason that Catholics believe that bread and wine at Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ, that pouring water on a child's brow in baptism renders her a new creation in Christ, and that a young couple's marriage vows transforms their intimate love for one another into an expression of God's love for us all. The ordinary is in fact extraordinary when transformed by God's saving grace.
To view the world in this way -- to see the world of people and things as capable of revealing God and to understand that God's grace can fill even secular realities -- to regard all things as potentially holy is what it means to be Catholic. And because we are Catholic we live and act in particular ways.
How we treat one another and especially the least among us, what we profess and hold to be true, how we pray and worship, the questions we ask, are measures of the grace we have been given and of our faithfulness to God's call in our lives, and as such, they are the ways in which we are meant to transform the world.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
When we in the Catholic Church hear the term “minister” we most often think of the priests and deacons who serve our community. Father and Deacon are ordained ministers who are assigned by the Archbishop to serve our parish. They have a specific role and the specific ministry which belongs to them. We are blessed that these men answered the call of the Holy Spirit and have given themselves to our service.
Any one of us exercising a ministry is a minister, in the fullest sense of the word. Since all the baptized are part of the universal priesthood, whenever we engage in our vocation to evangelize the world and to help those in need, we are ministers. Those of us serving in ministry are usually referred to as “lay ministers” because we aren’t ordained.
Lay ministries include lectors who proclaim Sacred Scripture during Mass, altar servers who help Father and Deacon at the altar, cantors and music ministers who lead the singing, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion who serve during Mass and/or who take Holy Communion to the sick and homebound, and ushers or ministers of hospitality who direct the seating and procession of the assembly and Greeters who welcome us at the doors.
Lay ministries include the catechists who lead our Sunday Liturgy of the Word for Children and teachers of our Faith Formation classes. The RCIA team who teaches our faith to those who are entering the Church, our youth group leaders, our collection teams, those who cook and serve at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center and Roadrunner Food Bank, those who advocate for Social Justice and our Scout leaders, are all ministers.
Here at Risen Savior there are some 700 members of our community who are ministers. They are involved in these ministries and many more. But the needs are greater than even that number can fill. Many Masses don’t have enough ushers, or lectors, or 3-minute readers. Many of our homebound don’t receive Holy Communion as frequently as they’d like for lack of ministers to take the Lord to them at home. From joining us to bake cookies for the homeless to helping to clean our worship space, ministers are needed.
Who can serve as a minister? The simple answer is any of the faithful. We are all called to a ministry. Women and men, children and adults, are all called to be ministers in God’s Holy Church.
Search your heart. How is God calling you to serve?
Sunday, August 10, 2014
On May 15th each year we celebrate the feast of St. Isidore the farmer. This is the time we bless the land. Fields, orchards, and gardens are all blessed so there may be a bounty from which to feed many. This is a major church season. Our Christian roots are agricultural. Jesus spoke of farmers sowing, shepherds gathering, lands yielding, trees bearing fruit—it was the visible world of his day. For most of us the world of produce is the supermarket. But we still need the yield of mother earth to meet the hungers of our body and soul.
The growing season in North America is ninety days; from May 15th to August 15th. The conclusion of the growing season is the harvest of late summer. The solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven concludes the growing season. Mary is Queen of the harvest. The Octave of the Feast of the Assumption ends on the 22nd with the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. From the planting of earth with Isidore in May to the harvest of souls, and the harvest of the land, on August 15th, the liturgical year constantly echoes the parables of the seasons of our soul.
No one can pray like a farmer prays. No one hopes and waits like those who work the land. If it’s too dry seeds cannot be planted and crops that are planted wither. If it’s too wet plants are washed away or cannot be harvested. Farmers exist on the knife’s edge. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Spirit being like rain that comes watering the fields bringing forth life and returning from where it came.
Whether we’ve ever worked the land or not, we are all planters and harvesters. We are the seeds and yield. We are the fruit, the gifts, and the Spirit. We are more than a ninety day investment of the earth. We are the bounty of God for all seasons. As the hymn says, “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.”
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Many are surprised when they find out just how much work and effort goes into keeping a parish going. At Risen Savior, there are many things we have been working on.
You may have noticed that our parking lot looked different this weekend when you came to Mass. The project we began a year ago has finally been finished. Last year we replaced large sections where the asphalt was deteriorated and then poured a slurry of asphalt and sand over the entire surface. Over the past eleven months that slurry has worked itself into every crack and seem. This week we applied a two coat sealer. We now have a parking lot that is solid and will give us another dozen years of service before we have to replace it. We know that this has been an inconvenience and we appreciate everyone’s patience.
We continue to work on our sound problems here in the church. If you’ve been to other parishes for Mass, you know that sound problems are not unique to us. But we share your frustration. We have a parishioner who is helping us to solve some of our sound issues and we are hopeful that many of these issues are resolved in the very near future. In the meantime, if you have trouble hearing what is being said from the Ambo or Altar we suggest you sit closer.
Many of us use hearing aids. If you have modern digital hearing aids switch them to the telephone setting. We have an induction loop system to assist those with hearing aids. The loop, or antenna, runs around the parameter of our worship space. The closer to the wall you are the better your hearing aid will pick up the sound.
We are working to clean out storage and common areas. Like any home, our church home has a tendency to become cluttered. Unused items have been donated to charitable organizations or discarded as needed. We thank everyone who helped, especially in the Youth Center, to get things ship-shape.
On top of the physical aspects of the parish, we are also working on our service to the community. Many have asked how we did with our June peanut butter collection. While we did not get an exact count, a good estimate is that we collected over 1,650 jars of peanut butter – including the 400 our Summer Children’s Faith Formation students brought in. We are reminded that this is an ongoing collection. Every week our partners from the Storehouse come to collect the peanut butter that we’ve brought in. We’re pleased to say that our peanut butter collection is up and remind everyone that each family here at Risen Savior is encouraged to bring one jar a week.
Our collection of school supplies is also going well. We collected 40 backpacks that were given to Catholic Charities. We have also had our collection bin filled to the brim twice. Even with that amount of school supplies, there will still be those in need. We will continue collecting them through the end of August. You’ll find a sample school supply list in our bulletin.
Just as our parish is continually working on improvements, so too are we a work in progress. Let us strive to continually work to improve ourselves in Christ.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
When the Holy Mass is properly celebrated there are moments in which the voices of the clergy and faithful become silent. Father continues to officiate, Deacon continues to model the postures and gestures proper to the liturgy, and the congregation follows in watchful, prayerful participation. What do these periods of quiet signify? What does stillness really imply?
Stillness implies above all that we stop talking and let silence be allowed to prevail. That no other sounds – sounds of movement, of turning pages, of coughing and throat-clearing be audible. We are living beings and we move. But stillness is still, and it is a choice that we make. Stillness is more than the absence of noise and movement, it is the conscious decision to be present to the Holy Spirit.
People often say, “But I can’t help coughing” or “I can’t kneel quietly”; but when we’re stirred by a concert or engrossed in a movie we forget all about coughing and fidgeting. A congregation must truly desire stillness for it to know what it is. But once true stillness is encountered many begin to wonder how they ever lived without it.
Sadly, we live in noisy times. It is hard to find a place that the distractions of the world don’t surround us. Most people become uncomfortable within a few brief seconds when things are still; and when they become uncomfortable many feel the need to whisper to their neighbor or clear their throat just to fill the void.
Stillness is the outward sign of a tranquil inner life. It is us, collected, present, receptive, alert, and ready to be in the presence of God. Without stillness our prayer and worship remains an unfulfilled task.
The teachings of the Church tell us that when the presider says, “Let us pray,” he and the community are still for a moment. During this time of stillness we all reflect upon our own needs, our hopes, and our prayers, and present them to the Lord. The presider then collects our prayers and offers them as a gift to God.
As we’re told in Psalm 40, “Be still,” says the Lord, “and know that I am God.”
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Both the Old and New Testaments tell compelling stories of refugees forced to flee because of oppression. Exodus tells the story of the Chosen People, Israel, who were victims of slavery in Egypt. They were helpless by themselves, but with God's powerful intervention they were able to escape and eventually settle in a land that they could call home.
The Israelites' experience of living as homeless aliens was so painful and frightening that God ordered his people for all time to have special care for the alien: "You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you" (Leviticus 19:33).
Jesus reiterates the Old Testament command to love and care for the stranger, a criterion by which we shall be judged: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35). In Christ, the human race is one before God, equal in dignity and rights.
When there is a massive movement of people such as during a war, natural disaster, or famine, the lands that receive these displaced people may be threatened. Even in wealthy countries, such as in the United States, citizens and residents of the land may fear that newcomers will take jobs, land, and resources, impoverishing the people already present.
The first principle of Catholic social teaching regarding immigrants is that people have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families.
Pope Francis wrote earlier this month, “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a more just and fraternal world.”
The Holy Father goes on to say, “I would also like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence: This is a category of migrants from Central America and Mexico itself who cross the border with the United States under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain. This humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”
We recognize the need to correct the problems in Central America that are forcing families to send their children to our borders. But we cannot abandon these children while we await changes to governments and systems.
Today’s second collection will help provide for the basic needs of the children we are called to welcome.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
The late Saint John Paul II once addressed the avenues available to us for personal holiness. He said we have confession, spiritual direction and therapy. He taught that all three of these are good and we need them at different times on life’s journey. But he went on to say that we should not confuse them.
Confession is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is to be used when grave sin is present. It is the teaching of the Church to make a confession at least annually when grave sin is not present.
Spiritual direction involves more time than does confession. Spiritual direction is for sorting out something personal that troubles, confuses, or stalls our trek toward holiness. Spiritual directors can be priests, deacons, or lay people, and many are specially trained for this. Usually when the confession line stops, it is because someone has confused confession with spiritual direction. Most spiritual direction sessions are lengthy and, if with a priest, may include with confession – but the two are separate and distinct in themselves.
Therapy can be wonderful when faced with life’s bigger challenges. Therapy is about recognizing and changing behaviors that hurt us or our loved ones, or hinder our journey toward holiness. A number of lengthy sessions may be needed to help us work on and through our issues.
Therapy is not Spiritual Direction. Spiritual Direction is not Confession. Confession is not Therapy.
In sorting out the distinctions between confession, spiritual direction and therapy, it is also good for us to distinguish how we tick. We often confuse the differences between desire, temptation and sin. Desires are part of being human. Actually to lose our desires, or not have any, would mean we are dead. Desires can usher us right into temptation but, we have to remember that temptation is not a sin. Jesus was tempted and never sinned. Because temptations can be so strong, some interpret them as personal failure. If we are not tempted, chances are the devil probably has us right where he wants us. To be tempted means we are fully engaged in spiritual warfare. Jesus has already won the battle, but we are engaged in our struggles with our earthly distractions and attractions.
The hallmark of the Second Vatican Council is that holiness is not just for a few but for all. We are all called to sainthood and holiness by our baptism. We have many tools at our disposal to assist us on our journey of faith, we just have to remember that we are not alone.