This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - Feb 24, 2017

Dear All: 

Christ’s Peace! 

This Week in Prayer

“Spiritual Chillax-ability” – that ability to get back to the deeper experience of Christ’s peace when life’s large and small difficulties knock us out of the chillaxed zone. Sunday’s readings remind us that the more able and willing we are to disavow retaliation, the more able we are to stay spiritually chillaxed.

The first reading, from Leviticus, the Old Testament’s third book, admonishes us to “Take no revenge.” It allows no exceptions. It doesn’t say “take no revenge unless the person who hurt you is a complete creep.” No. Just take no revenge. And if we are not going to take revenge, what good does it do us to contemplate revenge? To savor the prospect of getting even? Answer: those contemplations do us no good. They only make us miserable. The Leviticus passage also says “Cherish no grudge.” The mandate orders us to stop playing the bad movies in our head. Stop revisiting the slights and the injustices. Stop convincing ourselves what victims we are. Why do all that? Because (a) God says so and (b) we know we cannot get to spiritual chillax-dom when we are plotting revenge and re-watching the movies that star us as victims. 

Jesus drives the point home in Sunday’s gospel, another passage from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructs us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The request leaves no room for retaliation, actual or imagined. We are unable to love our enemies while plotting to hurt them. We are also unable to pray for our persecutors while planning the pay back. Once again, we ask “why do all that?” Once again the answer is “because Jesus says so and because doing so leads us to peace.” (N.B. – Jesus is not saying “regard no person as your enemy or persecutor.” We sometimes have enemies and persecutors – whom we must treat in the ways Jesus tells us.) 

So, what about you? In what circumstances have you experienced the underlying truth that “the call to forgive is a call to live?” When have you done the work of forgiving (i.e., disavowing retaliation) and, then experienced deeper peace? When have you prayed for and received the grace to stop watching the mental movies of past hurts and injustices – and then felt deeper peace? Was it in school? A study groups? Your team? Your workplace? With your close relatives? With annoying neighbors or colleagues? With a former spouse? With a shameless mooch or someone who talks trash about you? Everyone has someone to forgive, some impulse toward retaliation to resist, some choice to retaliate or to disavow retaliation, some choice to keep watching old victim movies or to turn them off, some choice to cooperate with Christ and feel his peace or to keep the monkeys tied to our backs. What about you?

  • Congratulations and all best blessings for the second graders who made their first reconciliations on Tuesday night. You were terrific. You were so very well prepared and so very prayerful and sincere. You knew how to start the process (“Bless me Father . . . ) and you knew your Act of Contrition like you’d been praying it for years. Plus you looked so nice and that clearly helped make the evening such a good one. God bless you, your families and your teachers. Thanks too to the eighth graders. You were also in great form. Finally thanks to the ushers for keeping us organized, to Mr. Viola for the wonderful music, and to everyone who really gave themselves to the prayer by helping to keep the silence. You were excellent.

  • Calling all grown men. Do you sweat holy water? Can you recite by heart the table of contents of the entire bible? Do you love extremely touchy feely gatherings of men? Are you perfectly content with your spiritual life, think maybe you have already reached the mountaintop? If you answered NO to every question, then Cornerstone is for YOU. Try this men’s prayer group for three Mondays in Lent and then commit for the long run. The group welcomes all men – 21 to 101 – who want a little more depth in their spiritual lives, who can commit the occasional Monday night to the effort, and who are up for a well-organized program that honors your personal borders. The first meeting is Monday, March 13. Read more about it in the bulletin and talk to the guys at the table in the gathering space. You will be glad you did.

  • This coming Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday. Masses are at 8:30am and 7:30pm. The Service of the Ashes for children (and anyone else) is at 5:00. Plan accordingly, and keep thinking of (a) one habit you want to stop and (b) one habit you want to start – and use Lent as a time to get those projects going.

  • Listen to this week's readings and homily
  • Read this week's readings
  • Read next week's readings

This week in service:

  • Ministry Recruiting in the Gathering Space this weekend and next – If you are already committed to one or more parish ministries and are happy with your work, stay your course! If you aren’t already involved or if you think it might be time for a change, talk to the people at the recruiting stations in the gathering space or check out the ministry directory and contact the relevant people. Just before Lent is a great time to reassess your ministries and make whatever tweaks God seems to have in mind. (NB – we still need altar servers for the 4:45 and 6:00 Masses.) 

  • Attention all members of liturgical ministries and community building ministries (Parish Council, Finance Council, Buildings and Grounds, Money Counters, etc.) Please consider participating in the April 8 Morning of Recollection for member of all liturgical ministries and community-building ministries (aka priestly and kingly ministries). It will be a good time to consider the good you do and the challenges you face. It will also be a fine time to spend a few unhurried minutes with your ministerial colleagues. The only ministries NOT invited to this are social concerns and religious ed.

  • Caregiver Retreat – are you taking care of a loved one or another who cannot fully care for himself or herself? Then join us for the Caregivers morning of retreat on Saturday March 18. 

This week in community:

  • Family Bingo last Friday was a gas. Great thanks to members of the Youth Ministry for making it such fun. Thanks to the nearly 250 people who showed up for the fun and special thanks to all who introduced themselves to other parishioners and who welcomed unknown parishioners to their tables. It was a superb evening of fellowship. Plus it raised money to help fund the Youth Ministry charities for our 30 Hour Famine (Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen, S.H.I.P. and World Vision).

  • The free PJ Anderson concert is next Saturday night, March 4. This too promises to be a wonderful evening of fellowship – fed by excellent music and yet more terrific hospitality offered by the youth group.

  • First Wednesday – given the peculiarities of this year’s calendar – the first Wednesday of March being Ash Wednesday when excellent junk food is not OK – we are moving the first Wednesday celebration to Tuesday, February 28 after the 8:30 Mass. We will celebrate March birthdays and Mardi Gras! Every last parishioner is invited to join this crowd.

  • The Bishop’s Annual Appeal is here! Stay tuned for more information in the bulletin and in church.

  • The Patriot Ministry is taking a new and improved approach this year. On behalf of that ministry (which works the concession stand at Patriot Stadium to raise funds that pay down our mortgage) – I encourage each parish ministry to consider working one night. Find a night when many people in your ministry can work the counter and sign up! It is more fun than you would guess and is a fine way to strengthen the connections within your ministry. Can you really know another ministry member until you have worked the beer taps or the ice cream machine with that person? The Lord works in strange ways his wonders to perform.

With best hopes and blessings for your Lent and your end of winter.

Fr Hank.