This Saturday, October 4th, is the monthly Men's Group at SAB Parish. We meet at 8am for mass and prayer (Confession is available), then head over to the Conference Center around 9am for a hot breakfast, fellowship, and a short presentation.
This month's speaker is the Evangelist at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Manchester, Derek McDonald. Rumor has it, he's presenting on specific spiritual insights in the thought of the great C.S. Lewis. Should be a good one!
*ALL MEN, HIGH SCHOOL AND OLDER ARE WELCOME*
Ministry Tip of the Week
It's so much easier to be a Lone Ranger.
Certainly, the radical individualism of American culture encourages it. And I really do see the appeal: things are much more 'peaceful' if I do my own thing and we all just harmoniously stay out of each other's way. After all, I don't have to worry about conflicts of opinion and the resulting compromise of my personal preferences, for starters.
But is that really the peace Christ came to bring?
There's something far more beautiful than harmony. Of course I'm talking about love, but I mean something specific. I mean family. It's more difficult to achieve than harmony, but a good family works together as a single unit, each member contributing his or her own specific talents. And good parents know how to bring out the best in even the most difficult personalities, so that, in the end, every member is an asset, making the family something greater than it ever could have been
otherwise. True family isn't just a harmony of individuals serving their own purposes and staying out of one another's way; the members of a family serve one another and recognize that their own greatest good is bound up in their ability to make a gift of themselves - their time, their talents, their loves - to the family.
It almost sounds communist, but the difference is in the definition of love. The gift is free. In
Christ we are set free to love. We don't lose ourselves for the sake of the whole. Instead, "it is in giving that we receive." The more of ourselves we give, the more fully ourselves we become. This is the power of God, and it cannot be refashioned without him.
God has made us a family, literally. In Christ we have become the adopted sons and
daughters of the Father who is in heaven. We build his kingdom here on earth. And like every good family, the many gifts we bring to the table are meant to be shared and celebrated. This is the secret to ministry. What is ministry, after all, but the collaboration of the Body of Christ to evangelize the world. We need each other. My gifts are assets. But the hands are not feet, and the eyes are not ears. What I lack, another member provides.
I love the USCCB document on Youth Ministry, Renewing the Vision. In particular, I appreciate it's call for us to become intergenerational in all our efforts. How many gifts (i.e. people) do we miss out on when entire generations in the Church live in segregation?
The more we collaborate, the more effective our Christian ministry of discipleship becomes. There's no limit to the ways in which we can live this out, save our own pride as it tempts us to think we can come galloping in and save the day; that kind of power is an illusion.
So what's your gift? Is it music? Is it teaching? Is it a heart for service? Is it the wisdom of experience? And what are the gifts of the brothers and sisters the Lord has given you?
First, let us recognize those brothers and sisters as the gifts that they are, then let us work to collaborate in the one mission of Christ and the Spirit (CCC 737). How beautiful the Body of Christ really is when we bring all our gifts to the altar and offer them to the Lord in communion.
If you're familiar with the life of a Hobbit, you'll notice a very strict eating schedule: First breakfast, Second breakfast, "Elevensies", Lunch, they never forget to take time out to receive this most basic form of nourishment. Apparently, they have fast metabolisms; but it's uncanny how similar the eating habits of a Hobbit are to the prayer rhythm of the Liturgy of the Hours. I don't know if Tolkien meant it to come across this way, but Hobbits eat like monks pray.
Church teaching sums it up well:
"God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace." (CCC 2008)
Without prayer, I cut myself off from the vine, as it were. The Catechism offers the simplest yet most profound definition of prayer I've ever heard. "Prayer is Christian insofar as it is communion with Christ and extends throughout the Church, which is his Body," and (I love this last part) "it's dimensions are those of Christ's love" (CCC 2565).
We've been given a part to play in the redemption of the world. Prayer keeps us rooted in a life of grace, connected to the source of divine life and living in the mission. It keeps us in communion with the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. It's the wellspring of the Holy Spirit. If we're too busy to pray, we're either doing more than God asks of us, or, and this is more likely the case, we're doing exactly what God wants...but on our own, without proper nourishment.
The Christian life - thanks to baptism - is a work of love. But it's God's work. The moment we find we're too busy to pray is precisely the time to stop, just for a moment, and say a quick prayer. The more open we are to grace, the more effective our own efforts become.
"Man does not live on bread alone" (Matthew 4:4), and yet I always have time to eat. May his grace help us all to live a little less like Hobbits and a little more like monks.
Know the Kerygma
Ministry Tip of the Week
ke·ryg·ma noun \kə-ˈrig-mə\
"Kerygma" is a fancy way of saying "the basic Gospel message": the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. At the heart of the Church's mission is an unwavering resolve to proclaim the Gospel, in season and out. All ministry efforts flow from our own personal and living encounter with the truth of this message - the kerygma; these efforts in turn are fueled by a focused zeal to bring others to experience the same living encounter. It's a message simple enough to teach three-year-olds and profoundly rich enough to overwhelm geniuses.
And you can't go wrong with the following liturgical formulation:
"For in goodness you created man and, when he was justly condemned, in mercy you redeemed him, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Order of the Mass, Common Preface II)
Of course, in my actual experience of sharing the Gospel...
Ministry Tip of the Week
"There's nothing new under the sun"(Ecclesiastes 1:9), except you.
In the end, the only thing we really have to share is ourselves. There's nothing I can say that can't be read in a book. If there's something you learn from me that you can't find anywhere else, it's only that little bit of myself that's mixed in with the information; but that kind of transparency can make all the difference in the world.
Pope Paul VI said that "modern man learns not from teachers but from witnesses, and from teachers only when they are witnesses." I love this quote! It reminds me that whenever I'm teaching or talking to friends and family, the moment I begin to relate my own experiences and share intimate details about my own life, hearts begin to open.
Now, please don't think this means we should make everything about ourselves whenever we can, or that we need to divulge all the juicy intimacies of our private life. I'm certainly not suggesting that. "Share yourself" means that your personal witness to Christ and to the power of his grace in your life (including specific, even semi-vulnerable examples) will mean more to your audience than any amount of doctrine, no matter how well you can explain it. This is especially true when we learn to "time it" and, be it a friendly conversation or a more formal setting, to connect Church teaching with our living experience of faith at just the right moment. Let something of yourself spill over in your witness to truth.
Let them see it on your face, and they'll know it's real.
The Team is assembled, the donuts are ordered, and it's time. The Sunday morning Coffee House at St. Andre Bessette Parish opens this week, Sunday, September 7th. Come by and enjoy the company of SAB parishioners and a tasty snack. The menu includes a variety of donuts, bagels (w/ choice of butter, jelly, or cream cheese), coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and water. THIS IS NOT A FUNDRAISER. The Sunday Coffee House is meant to provide a warm environment where parishioners and visitors can get to know each other after mass. We do hope to break even, of course, so a small donation would be greatly appreciated if you can (grab a donut and a cup of coffee, and throw a buck or two in the basket). If you can't afford the donation, don't let that stop you. Please come and enjoy a donut and a cup of coffee all the same! In addition to these items, there will also be a .50 cent table with healthier items (we have the kids in mind with this): fruit cups, juice boxes, apple sauce, yogurt, and string cheese will all be available. Parents can come regularly, and in good conscience :)
See you after mass!
First Saturday Men's Group
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