Sunday, June 29, 2014
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. These two men, our brothers in faith, brought the faith of Jesus Christ to the Jews and Gentiles in the first century of Christianity. They are the twin pillars upon which the fledgling faith was built. The honor of Saints is part of who we are as a Christian people, but many non-Catholic Christians accuse us of worshipping saints.
So, do Catholics worship saints? NO!
Adoration is the worship and homage that is due to God alone. The Saints are human like you and me. They are not divine. Adoration of the saints has never been nor will ever be part of Catholic teaching or prayer. We venerate the saints.
Veneration is the honor due to the excellence or achievement of a created person.
The Olympics give us an example of veneration. An Olympic gold medal for excellence in athletics is a form of veneration. Honor given for the achievement of an athlete takes nothing away from the glory of God. We pay many honors to Olympic Champions; like putting their picture on a box of Wheaties and giving them many apparel endorsements. We are not scandalized by this because no one thinks we worship them as a god.
We venerate the Saints in heaven because of the excellence they attained in living a life in imitation of Christ. The Saints are like God's champion athletes. It is pleasing to God and gives Him glory when we honor those who excelled in love for Him.
It is necessary to remember that the love and honor we give to God's Saints does not end with the Saints themselves but rather it reaches ultimately to God through the Saints. In honoring a beautiful work of art we are truly honoring the artist. It is only by God's grace that the Saints reached the heights of holiness. In a very real sense they are His works of art. Therefore, nothing is taken away from the glory and honor of God through veneration of the Saints, in fact we truly honor God when we venerate those who excelled in love for Him.
But, don’t we pray to the Saints? No. We pray through them. As we celebrate the faith of Saints Peter and Paul, we ask them to pray for us to the Lord our God.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
The hundreds of priests who served the Temple in Jerusalem prayed at specific times throughout the day. They prayed first thing in the morning, mid-morning, noon, mid-afternoon, evening, and night. These formal prayers pleaded with God to save His people. From ancient times the Church has also had the custom of praying throughout the day. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.
We refer to these prayers as the “Liturgy of the Hours,” but many know them as the “Divine Office.” This is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and making them holy through our prayer.
The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the whole People of God. In it, Christ Himself “continues His priestly work through His Church.” The clergy and religious vow to pray these prayers throughout the day. Lay people are also encouraged to recite the Divine Office either with the clergy, among themselves, or individually.
The hymns and litanies of the Liturgy of the Hours integrate the prayer of the psalms into our age making them meaningful to us. Through them we reflect upon the time of day, the liturgical season, or the feast being celebrated. In addition, the reading from the Word of God at each Hour with its response reveals the deeper meanings of the mystery being celebrated, assist us in understanding the psalms, and help us prepare for our own personal and silent prayer.
The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the three main liturgies of the Church. The others being the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which combined we know as Mass.
Unlike the Old Covenant which was celebrated by the Jewish Temple priests, the worship “in Spirit and in truth” of the New Covenant is not tied to any one place. The whole earth is sacred and Jesus is found everywhere and in every heart. As the sun rises from East to West voices are raised in prayer to the glory of God, a prayer for each of us.
You are invited to join our staff as we pray Morning Prayer on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 AM. No experience necessary!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
The longest season in our liturgical calendar is called “Ordinary Time.” This term is often misunderstood, for there is nothing ordinary about it. The person unfamiliar with the term Ordinary Time might think we are speaking of a period in our year which “dull” or “monotonous” in comparison with the “special” times of the year. But, its name comes from how we count these weeks ahead, with “ordinal numbers:” The 10th week, the 11th Week, et cetera. It is called ordinary in order to distinguish it from other periods of the liturgical year, which are put into the context of the specific mystery they celebrate, like the coming of salvation in Advent, the birth of our Savior in Christmas, Christ’s Passover, and ours, at Easter.
Here we are, having just completed the Easter Season with last week’s celebration of Pentecost. Prior to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the weeks of the year following Pentecost were numbered accordingly. For instance, this Sunday would have been called the “First Sunday after Pentecost,” next week would be the “Second Sunday after Pentecost,” and so on.
Ordinary Time is the time of the Church, of the daily life of every Christian community, and of each one of us. It is the time not of a brief sprint during which we hurry to a goal, but of moving at a measured pace in order to cover a long distance.
It is a time for us to examine our faith and our faithfulness. A time for hope that holds us steadfast and keeps us from stopping at every minor difficulty. A time for charity and sharing. A time for reflection and introspection. Ordinary Time is the opportunity for us to take our time without wasting our time.
Everything is possible at any time for God, and for us, with His grace always being offered. But this season of Ordinary Time reminds us of our need to be open to infinite possibilities. In the course of six months many things can and will happen in the world, in the Church, in our families, and in ourselves. With God’s strength, we can welcome what happens during Ordinary Time in faith, hope, and love.
Ordinary Time is given to us to recapture, strengthen, redress, and rebuild ourselves in the image of our Lord Jesus. This is the time for witnessing humbly to our faith and proclaiming God’s Word. A time to welcome the riches of God to be found in others and in ourselves. A time of ordinary and extraordinary possibilities.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Within just the past few years cremation has become the preferred method of dealing with the remains of our loved ones. Here at our own parish two out of three funerals include cremation. This may come as a surprise to some who remember the Church’s ban on this practice.
Cremation was the common practice in the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. In contrast, Christians, remaining true to their Jewish roots, buried their dead in cemeteries, or underground caves we now call catacombs. A special regard was attached to the bodies of those who died rather than deny their faith, the martyrs, and their burial sites became places of prayer.
As the Roman Empire declined and disappeared, so did the practice of cremation. It wasn’t seen again until the Black Plague decimated large portions of the European population during the Middle Ages in the 14th century.
After that, cremation became popular again in Great Britain and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This occurred for a variety of reasons, including expense and lack of cemetery space. There are on average 750 graves per acre in London. Many churches appear to have sunk into the surrounding churchyard as bodies were commonly buried one atop another, century after century.
The Roman Catholic Church took a stand against this practice because many who desired cremation did so as a denial of the belief in the resurrection of the body. The 1917 Code of Canon Law stated that one who was cremated could not have a church funeral.
As the practice of cremation became more common the Church’s attitude changed. In 1963 the Vatican lifted the prohibition against cremation. In 1983 the new revision of Canon Law allowed both cremation and burial as means of honoring the body of a deceased Catholic.
Today Catholics in the United States have three options for funeral with cremated remains. Those options are, in preferential order:
· A funeral with the body present, cremation following, and burial of the cremated remains
· Burial of the cremated remains followed by Mass at the church
· Or Cremation, followed by Mass and then burial of the remains.
The cremated remains of our loved ones are treated with respect and dignity. Therefore our ashes are not to be scattered, or kept in the home of a relative or friend. They are to be buried or entombed in a cemetery where they await the life to come, when their bodies and spirit will be united again.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
For over 100 years, people have turned to peanut butter as a healthy and inexpensive source of protein. Peanut butter has as much protein per ounce as Salmon for a fraction of the price..
Since 2003, our parish has been committed to provide peanut butter to the Storehouse Food Pantry. Unlike most food pantries which distribute whatever food items they receive, the Storehouse works with other non-profits, like Risen Savior, to provide a healthy assortment of food to families who are hungry.
Risen Savior is the only organization currently collecting peanut butter for the Storehouse. Our weekly goal of 350 jars of peanut butter covers only 25 percent of the Storehouses' needs. Unfortunately, 350 jars is a goal which we haven't met in a year. Our current weekly peanut butter collection averages fewer than 250 jars. That means that only about 1 in 12 people who attend Mass each week are bringing a jar of peanut butter with them.
Jesus teaches that we are to feed the hungry. Putting dinner on our family table is certainly part of that teaching. But we aren't to stop there - we are to seek out those who are less fortunate and care for them, remembering that everything we have is a gift from God, a gift that He has given us to share.
Risen Savior Catholic parish and the Storehouse have called our program, "Each One, Feed One." Each family at Risen Savior is encouraged to help feed another family. One jar of peanut butter won't make much of a difference in our food budget, but will make a huge difference to those with hungry children and an empty pantry.
We've all seen and been impacted by food prices that have risen sharply these past few years. Imagine how it must feel not to be able to provide even the most basic lunch for your child, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Peanut butter for the Storehouse is this month’s Love Your Neighbor collection. Next time you're shopping, remember the working people, retired people, single parents, and others who don't have enough to eat, and place a jar – or even two! – of peanut butter in your cart for them.