THIS WEEK IN PRAYER
Planning Ahead – Sorry to mention the O-word (October) on the first day of summer, but it might help your advance planning. I expect to offer two prayer programs that start after Labor Day.
Meeting Christ in Prayer – This six-week program introduces people to imaginative scriptural prayer and to small-group spiritual conversation. The sessions will start around Columbus Day and will meet either on Monday or Wednesday evenings at 7:00 or 7:30. Enrollment will be limited to twelve. More sessions will be offered throughout the year. The program involves about 20 minutes of your time, six days a week – plus the 90-minute meeting each week.
The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius – This program leads people through the entire experience of The Spiritual Exercises. The group, which will also be limited to twelve people, will meet every other Monday or Wednesday at about 7:00. First preference will be given to people who have completed Meeting Christ in Prayer. The program requires about 45 minutes of your time, five days a week, plus the 90-minute meeting every other week. The program runs from October to May.
Sunday’s Homily – "The People Who Help Us Believe, Part Two: Our Mustard Bush People"
To listen to Sunday’s homily, click here.
To read a summary of it, go to the bottom of this page.
THIS WEEK IN COMMUNITY:
20th Anniversary – Be sure to check out the photographs in the gathering space! And for those of you who were here in those exciting days, what memories do the pictures stir? Was there a moment in the design, construction, or dedication processes that you still cherish? Bring your story and bring your refreshments to the gathering after Saturday’s 4:45 to reminisce and to thank God!
Saint Joe’s Motorcycle Club — Join the ride on Saturday before the 4:45 Mass! It makes no difference whether you have already joined the club or have not gotten around to it yet. Just get your helmet and go. The riders will leave the church parking lot at 1:30 pm and will return in time for the 4:45 Mass. Wasn’t there something in the scriptures about motorcycles and holiness, or am I getting confused?
Religious Education – It is another fine season for our Religious Education Program.
ONLINE – Thank you to all who have signed up for an account on ParishSoft, and have registered your children already for the 2018-2019 CCD year. If you have any trouble registering, please contact Linda. We have learned several new tricks for getting around technical glitches!
Numbers – To date, we have almost 65% of our students re-registered, plus a nice group of incoming 1st graders.
Discount – Remember that the discounted price for tuition is available until June 30. You have one more week to take advantage of our Early Bird Special.
Summer CCD – Our Summer CCD Session is full to the brim, and all the parents are working hard to get ready for a fun 2 weeks!
THIS WEEK IN SERVICE:
Summer Work Trips – Our parish truly has it going on this year with summer work trips.
Young Adults (July 8-14) — This is something altogether new and wonderful. Twenty of our young adults, ages 18 – 30, will join forces with West Virginia’s Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University. The experience offers unique opportunities to serve Appalachian communities, learn about the region’s blessings and challenges, use tried-and-true Jesuit methods to reflect on the experience, and discern options for continued service. Please say a prayer for our travelers.
High School Students (July 22-27) – This year, thirty-six of our high school students will be heading off to Catholic Heart Workcamp in North Haledon, NJ. Our young people will be joining 200 others from around the country to help families and organizations in Patterson, NJ to restore their homes, service-centers, and communities. Their days will be filled with work at several locations, sharing meals in common, praying at daily Mass, and coming together for music and fellowship every night. The experience does much to transform our youngsters into committed, mature Catholics. Pray for them too.
Nick Troisi – Great thanks to Nick Troisi! After many years of opening the church on Sundays and serving as sacristan for daily Mass, Nick has decided to turn those duties over to others. Thanks Nick!
Beccas Friends – Great thanks and blessings for the many parishioners who, last Friday, provided yet another splendid night for Becca’s Friends’, our parish ministry for people with special needs. The Game Night welcomed 45 participants. Many were our regulars (including several parishioners) and many were from three group homes in the area. The table games generated great fun, laughter, and non-stop chatter! Yet another great night at church for our loved ones with special needs.
Tim Tebow – Thanks to all the parishioners who are writing to the Tim Tebow Foundation to select our parish as a location for one of their foundation-sponsored dinner dances in February – for people with special needs.
9:30 Sunday – Special Guests – For those of you who regularly pray at the Sunday 9:30 Mass, please join me in welcoming a new batch of special visitors. The newest assisted living facility on 206 is bringing several of its new residents to our 9:30 Mass. May this be the start of a long and inspired connection.
All best blessings for all of you as we enter the peak of the summer season. May it begin with some great fun and inspiring adventures of all sorts. May God continue to bless you abundantly.
Summary of this Week’s Homily:
The People Who Help Us Believe, Part Two: Our Mustard Bush People
Sunday’s gospel, the Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4) says much about the mustard plant’s impressive growth pattern. It sprouts quickly from a tiny seed into a sprawling bush. As such, it provides a powerful symbol of God’s spreading kingdom.
The gospel also points out one of the bush’s important functions. The bush provides little in the way of food for man or beast. Neither does it offer building material. When was the last time you heard of something made from mustard wood? What the mustard bush does provide is a place where “the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade,” a place for birds to escape the sun’s scorching rays. It supplies a restorative alternative to a harsh environment.
Moments of great trust in God’s love do for us what the shade does for the birds in the mustard branches. Experiences of deep conviction and deep faith in Jesus’ love provide a pause that renews. When the circumstances around us become very trying, recollections of God’s love offer a moment of shade, a calming and restorative hiatus that enables us to fight the good fight with renewed vigor. Calming experiences of conviction do not alter the challenging circumstances. But those moments do enable us to re-enter the fray with a better focus and a greater ability to love.
The sprout of cedar described in the first reading (Ezekiel 17) functions in a similar way. It eventually grows into a place where “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.” The time spent in the shade restores the creatures that pause there.
God’s mustard bushes and cedars grow all around us. The world provides all sorts of places and people and experiences that enable us to recall, even in the heat of the battle, that we are beloved, that God knows our names and knows what is up, that we matter to God.
What about you? What have been some of your best mustard-bush experiences? When have you found yourself trudging through difficult circumstances and then been moved by the conviction that your trudging matters to God? When have you devoted yourself to another, even in challenging times, and been renewed by the deep-down awareness that God also loves the one you love, that the beloved matters even more to God than to you? When have you been one of those tweetie birds panting for relief and found the comfort and consoling shade of the awareness of God’s love? What is your mustard bush story and who might need to hear it? Your mustard bush story, properly shared, makes it easier for others to believe.