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.