Friday, December 14, 2012
Thursday, December 13, 2012
We continue to work on plans for the expansion of the Kitchen. This is not a small effort in any sense. It involves removing all that separates the old business office from the current kitchen: the installation of a hood (a very expensive piece) and all new commercial “type” equipment. The kitchen is a focal point of the facility simply because so many events are supported by the all-too-small kitchen. The current cost estimate is $180,000.
We provided assistance to Santa Clara Catholic School ($10,000.) This school serves very poor children in south Dallas. The assistance provided scholarship aid to one classroom for the year.
We assisted two “Title One” schools in Allen. These schools depend on contributions to supplement their less than adequate budgets. We have focused our attention on children who cannot afford to participate in field trips. Many of these families are also clients of the Allen Food Pantry.
We continue to organize in preparation for building a parochial school in Honduras. More on that by the end of February.
OTHER CONTINUING EFFORTS INCLUDE
Gospel of Life, Samaritan Inn, Allen Ministerial Alliance Senior Luncheon, St. Brigid’s Needle Arts Ministry, Eucharistic Ministry to the Sick, Addiction Ministries, CSI, Food Pantry, American Heritage Girls, Venture Crew, Boy Scouts Troop 131, Cub Scouts, ESL, Collin County Juvenile Detention Center, Alzheimer’s Support Group, and Grief Support.
The list above is gleaned from the parish newcomer’s guide and includes only those efforts that we would classify as “outreach.” There are dozens of additional fellowships, education and service organizations that would spill over on this page. It has been an expressed goal that we increase the activity of the parish to fill the available space. And, we encourage you to find a niche so that we are truly living the Gospel.
Included with this report of giving (“Good Steward”) is a 2013 pledge card. If you will be giving the same amount for this coming year as you did in 2012, simply fill out a new pledge card and note that you want to stay at the amount pledged in 2012. We do, however, want to encourage your “growth in giving.” Working toward the tithe (10% of gross) is one of the most satisfying challenges we can undertake. The increased strength of the parish to accomplish the goals that are provided by your giving is very important indeed. From the brief description of some of our endeavors you can see that we are working to responsibly use your contributions to the parish.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
The caution that is associated with this understanding of Joseph is not subtle.
In the stories about great men of ancient times there is a dramatic need to discover the influence that shaped their lives. Military leaders, philosophers and others accounted for their lives with complex stories of their birth and of their childhood. There are stories in the so called apocryphal New Testament which include the origin of his good character. They are stories of later centuries that attempt to fill in the blanks that are so widespread in the New Testament when it comes to understanding what Jesus is like. This is the motivation for these stories: to substitute imagination for more sketchy truths.
In those secular stories from ancient times you would expect to find certain stories of a required type. What was his father like, his mother? Did he follow in the family business? Did he have a hobby? He must have liked fishing and thus all the stories about fishing that fill the Gospels.
- He was the husband of Mary who is the Mother of God.
- Jewish custom required marriage between 13 – 19 years old.
- Joseph was betrothed to Mary when she was found to be pregnant; Joseph was ready to set aside the marriage contract to protect Mary from shame. He must have loved Mary very much to risk being considered disobedient to the laws of marriage. Indeed, out of this obedience grew a renewed sense of discipline to the Father’s plan.
- Joseph was brave. He made a long journey to Egypt and back to Nazareth in order to protect Mary and the child Jesus from the evil King Herod.
- Joseph received from angels information about each step in his participation in the plan.
- Jesus is of the lineage of King David through the patrimony of Joseph.
- He probably died before Jesus began his public ministry, or at about fifty.
- He was a carpenter. He was probably moderately successful since he would have been required to return to Bethlehem from Nazareth to pay tax on his second property. Even with this success Mary and Joseph practiced a voluntary poverty, associating themselves with the poor.
To make a difference
To be appreciated
To feel God’s forgiveness
To live a clean, uncomplicated life
To be assured of your acceptance, O Lord.
To know that my family will miss me when I die.
To know that I am ready to die.
To know that I am taking good care of those who have been placed in my care.
To believe in the future and not worry about the past.
For good health.
For spiritual gifts: generosity, courage, compassion.
And the courage to pray “Maranatha” (Come Lord)
To say it and mean it absolutely,
That we want him to come,
Come, Lord Jesus.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Advent is filled with many symbols, some of them appropriate to the season and having an ancient origin. Others don’t belong to it at all, but have firmly planted themselves in a new home like a department store Santa Clause. We think of Advent candles, Children’s pageants and special musical performances that go along with this first season of the Church. The attention we pay them is oftentimes hurried, as if the waiting for extra chores or anticipating something maniacal that might be pushing the intended good out of the season. And so, we light all the candles at once to be sure that we have done this or another custom, just in case. We give the season lip service, out of a reasonable fear that everything about Advent will be swallowed up in a shopping frenzy.
So if the season is to be saved what must the valiant do? As with all things we must first build (or rebuild) a foundation. The whole year has the same need to be remodeled. One of great contributions that Vatican II gave the church was to rediscover the sacred character of our worship. This is not a simple task, and one that requires a better grasp of many things, including the language of faith. Simply put, the Church is drawn into an experience of God’s presence. He is here with us. And because that is true about this season, that he is present, he makes the Year sacred.
Pope St. Leo the Great (died 468) provides us a glimpse into the past, as we carry with us certain questions about how the Church Year can make much of a difference.
“Beloved, the remembrance of what the Savior did for mankind is most useful to us, provided that what we venerate in faith we also receive and imitate. For in the communication of the mysteries of Christ to us, there is present both the power of grace and the encouragement which teaching gives, so that we may follow by out deeds him whom we confess in the spirit of faith.”
This is the desperately-held center of our faith, where things of the past meet things of the future, the timeless realities of the years as they pass more quickly each changing season. During the celebration of the Year we are enabled by the saints to share in the mysteries of Christ. For example, St. Francis invented the Christmas Crib to display for his villagers in Assisi what they could not imagine - God laid to rest in a manger. And all the other little scenes that do in fact help us to see and understand what happened long ago. Again St. Leo will help us:
“All that the Son of God did and taught for the reconciliation of the world we not only know through the narration of past events; we also experience the effects of it in virtue of these present deeds, the sacraments.”
In the weeks of Advent let us all, with enthusiasm, seek a greater understanding and experience of our encounter with Jesus Christ.
We feel a certain amount of frustration when we hear that some of our brother and sister Catholics have lost their lives because they are a different religion. I can imagine the scene of a few people at a time, slipping into a side door to come to Mass. To not call attention would certainly be better. Just like in our parish there would be hugs to greet one another. Having made it through the door would make everyone feel safe. There were little conversations in every part of the Church, discussing the well-being of some in the little congregation that were not present. But everyone was accounted for and they nervously started the Mass.
We can hardly dismiss the thoughts that this is the way it was for the first Christians. One of the criticisms of the ancient Church was that it was a secret society, with a closed membership. If it were too open it would quickly call attention. There is a little archeological evidence to help form this image. There have been found some larger buildings that would hold a hundred to two hundred souls. Interestingly, since there have been lots of Sunday school lessons that told about the Jews persecuting the Christians, some of these were similarly configured. They are like Jewish Synagogues and Christian Churches right next to each other. They are built on quiet streets and no one asked what went on there. Whispers guided those who might be interested in learning more about this unique religious movement.
There are always sacrifices, especially in an organization such as the Church. Sacrifice is a way of life. Sometimes it may not seem so, because the sacrifices seem small or unnoticed. We might hear about them or read about them but if we are not careful we might miss them entirely. I have to imagine that Jesus and the Saints, especially the martyrs take great notice. But this is not merely the stuff of excited children dressed up like Saints. That is all very well and good, especially if someday they realize that the costume they are wearing is more real than they might think. We could certainly say a lot about Columbine and other such horrific and violent events. And for those in Nigeria, may they be remembered with the glory of the martyrs. May the blood that was shed by those gathering for Mass be remembered as an efficacious sign of the Passion and Death of Jesus. May His Passion heal our world.
We would ask ourselves if this could help us all to be more enthusiastic about our attendance at Mass. Simply ask the question, “Am I going to be in Mass this Sunday?”
We are taking a collection during Cardinal Tumi’s visit. It will be sent to the Church in Nigeria in memory of those who have lost their lives in the civil strife there.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Congratulations to the whole parish of St. Jude. You have accomplished another goal as our parish continues to grow in God’s grace. Thanks to all who have supported this effort financially. For those who have made significant sacrifices, may God bless you for your service to the work of our community. This effort is not merely to improve our “work space.” It is to be further evidence of the light and grace of God flowing through our parish to the community that we are called to serve.
One of the mysteries of our Faith that we should receive with great joy is the mystery of the parish community. There are times when we feel strongly motivated to a deep affection for our parish. At these times it is a community in every sense of the word. We want to pile up descriptive words, especially those that relate to the “family.” A priest understands this on a daily basis, especially because of the use of the title “Father.” The community is not like a corporation or even a team, these are words that never occur in the New Testament.
It is curious that there seems to have been something of an evolution of the use of the Greek word “ecclesia” (from which comes the word ecclesiastical, having to do with the church.) Originally the word synagogue and church were completely interchangeable. Gradually, the paths divided and our Jewish brothers and sisters stopped using the word “church” and preferred the word “synagogue.” The Christians did the same thing, only preferring the word “church”. Under this there was a division between the synagogue and the church that is reflected in the use of words. It is with sorrow that this division was recognized by the first Christians. St. Paul remembers it with great sadness:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and separated from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kin according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3 NAB)
It is with great humility that we should approach the community of the Church. God has given us the assurance of His acceptance of us. Through the Church we are made part of the Body of His Son:
He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell... (Colossians 1:13-19 NAB)
It is not by chance that we have been brought to this place in our journey. We are guided every day to the work God has given us. We should be ready, always, to spring into action at His call, for we are his beloved children, members of the Body of his Son.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
But seemingly just like everywhere else in the world there is a Catholic church there. The priests come from Aztec or Farmington and volunteers do everything from cleaning up the little “five man cemetery”, doing the readings and providing some hospitality. Sometimes the chapel is open for Sunday Mass, sometimes not. I do not know the whole story but it obvious that without volunteers the Sunday morning offering would not be made.
The same is true for us. There is something to be done and if we are unwilling, it is not done. I suppose that God would make up the difference for us if he chose to. After all, God can do anything. The fact that he does not is just as telling as when he does. The Blessed Mother of Jesus received a visit from a good angel who announced the Birth of the Savior. The announcement was like a question that required her response. She was free to say no.
This is a fundamental building block of the Church. God does not force us to agree to his plans. We can say no, although the consequences are somewhat terrifying. To say “no” to God is to turn our back on him, to lose the possibility of overwhelming good. It does not seem reasonable that things could come down to this. Logically it is the only way something good can come into our life, to come in the form of a choice. But there is a very practical side to this. It has to do with little kids and pages about the Mass that they color and that come to life in the love and mystery of the Mass. Or there is food to bag up; or things that are needed for the refugee resettlement program. The list is very long and involves things that happen every day and some that are rare and very wonderful. In order for that good to spread through the parish there is one critical ingredient to the mix. It is your willingness to help, to say yes.
Please consider helping in our parish. There is much to be done.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For Love is strong as Death, longing is fierce as Sheol. Its arrows are arrows of fire, flames of the divine. Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away. Were one to offer all the wealth of his house for love, he would be utterly despised. (Song of Songs 8:5-7 NAB)
It is a surprise to discover these words in the Bible. Some would like them removed in place of something less imaginative. It is even more surprising that God loves us this way. St. Paul points to the same thing in the New Testament:
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Corinthians 13:12-13 NAB)
We understand this experience from a human point of view. It is much more difficult to understand from a heavenly vantage point. Jesus teaches us love from many perspectives:
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:9-14 NAB)
As we approach the last days of Lent there is one experience that drives all of what we do in these last weeks. It is perfect love that we are offered from the Cross. Open your heart to experience the presence of your loving God.
By the time you read this there should be panels set in place, as the new building takes shape. The transept extension should be moving into the finish stage. There is still much to be done, including the new East side parking lot, but the progress, which has been struggling to dodge the rain, is moving forward.
Of course, the financing for the transept extensions and the “pastoral center” is secure. As we conducted our campaign during lean times that need has been provided for by a new mortgage. This is, however, the limit that the Diocese will permit us to borrow under current budget numbers. Making the Pastoral Center a priority opens the use of the current administration building for youth and children’s ministry, as well as an expanded kitchen. Additional remodeling will be on a cash basis, as we cannot borrow more money.
Please be encouraged to give to the new building campaign. The success of our parish cannot be realized unless everyone participates.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Thank you as well for your patience in finding ways into the facility during the construction. I hope that the makeshift signs are doing their part. With so many children in our parish, it is very important that “leash laws” be enforced. We are happy that people are interested in the construction and want to stand at the courtyard fence to watch what is happening. Please, do stay on “our side” of the fence.
There has been unhappy news regarding the Health and Human Services directive concerning health care mandates. The focus of the problem is a violation of the free exercise of our religion. Here is the current position of the UnitedStates Conference of Catholic Bishops:
“First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion…. All the other mandated “preventive services” prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.
"Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such “services” immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of “religious employers” that HHS proposed to exempt initially.
“Today, the President has done two things. First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.
“Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contour: It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate. It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer’s policy, not as a separate rider.
“Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.” (USCCB Press Release, February 10, 2012)
For more information, please go online to
www.USCCB.org or www.usccb.org/conscience. These links will help you contact your member of congress. It is especially important that you support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). Also see www.catholicnews.com for updated information. Many disreputable people will try to enflame a bitterness. The cross of Christ is our way. We must love our enemies.
The one truism concerning evaluating the success of our projects is that in the end they all seem to work themselves out. We continue to be timid in our expectations, otherwise known as being fiscally conservative. I wonder, however if that is not the greatest obstacle we face. A miracle is something that has its origin in a surprise. God does them all the time. It is not just that the supernatural is involved but that it does not go according to our expectations. Finally, in the end the project is accomplished and we simply forget our doubts. Perhaps it would be good to remember the doubts in order to learn from them. We projected failure or scaled back because of trends. Perhaps, we even hoped for failure so that we could be proven right. Failure is easier than success. Pessimism is easier to justify. To believe in God’s intervention is hard, especially in these times. To believe in the combined force of God and people, well, the devil most assuredly does not what us to remember the way in which God has always carried us through.
The real question for us is not, “will our parish and our diocese and our nation (!) be successful?” Of course we will. We have always been successful in the past, not because we attribute this to our own strength but because we know God is with us. What we do is in response to His plan, not ours. If it were up to us we would be looking for the easy road, for the next vacation. The question is not about the success of the parish. It is about our personal involvement. Will we be involved? Will each of us be able to say with God’s help we did that? Will we be able to stand before the throne of God and respond favorably to the questions concerning our being part of the parish’s work, or the diocese, or making our nation strong. Or did we simply let the opportunity slip by because someone said “yes”, even though we said “no”.
There is a pledge card included as part of this Good Steward mailing. You know what to do. If this is your first time to say “yes,” give at a level that will bear the fruit of growing in God’s grace. Become a part of the work of the parish.
Notice that the pledge card represents three funds. The general operations are the everyday expenses: salaries and electricity, etc. The next two funds concern our building, the “Building Trust” and the “Capital Campaign.” The Building Trust is debt payment on the Church building and the Capital Campaign is the new construction. In addition to the General operations of the parish which all of us use, we should at least choose one of the other funds in order that we have a share in advancing this work.With God all things are possible.