This Week in Prayer, Service & Community - August 4, 2017

Dear All: 

 

We are back on track with “This Week,” and God willing will stay that way. Thanks for your patience.

 

This Week in Prayer: 

 

This Sunday’s gospel gives us two descriptions of people passionately pursuing all-consuming goals. In the first, the would-be farmer sells, with joy, all he owns to obtain the treasure. In the second, the merchant surrenders all for the pearl of great price. Both persons organize their lives around a single burning desire. Every choice they make considers that goal.

 

Many members of the early church harbored similar passions. But rather than pursuing earthly treasures or jewels, they discovered and pursued relationship with the risen Christ. Like the farmer and the merchant, they asked a single question to evaluate their choices: “Does this option lead me closer to Christ or not?” If yes, then pursue it. If not, then skip it. Their example challenges us. We know that on our good days, we are as single-minded as the merchant, the farmer, and the early Christians. We wonder what helps us imitate them and what gets in the way of being so focused on Jesus.

 

This Sunday’s gospel presents another, equally important challenge. It is the challenge of recognizing that each of us is Jesus’ pearl of great price, His priceless treasure. Our peace in this life and our eternal happiness is all that matters to Him. Every choice he made promoted our peace and eternal life. It matters now as he intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand. 

 

Regrettably, the evil spirits like to tell us that we are not His pearl of great price, that we are not His great treasure. The evil spirit lives to remind us that we have sinned, have made bad choices and are flawed. On our bad days, the dark spirits convince us that our sins and flaws deactivate Christ’s longing for us, that those sins and flaws prevent Christ from seeing us as pearl or treasure, that our sins and flaws are deal-killers. 

 

Fortunately, there are no deal-killers in Christ’s passion for us. He calls us to conversion. He invites us to repent. But he does not abandon us. There are no deal-killers. Peter’s denial, Martha’s interrogation, Matthew’s occupation, Bartimeus’ blindness – none of them was a deal killer. And none of our choices and flaws is a deal-killer. Slow, quiet repetition of two Jesus prayers can help us soak in Jesus’ eternal devotion.

 

  1. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God, Help me to trust that ________________ is not a deal killer.
    (insert that sin or flaw that the dark side likes to tell you is a deal-killer)

  2. Lord Jesus Christ, Living Son of the Living God Help me to trust that I am your pearl of great price.

 

What piece of your past – what sinful choice or a regrettable result – makes you want to pray those prayers? What aspect of your nature makes you want to pray them? And who in your orbit might be feeling the weights of uninspired self-recrimination or self-doubt and needs for you to pray the prayers for them?

This Week in Service:

  • If you haven’t already seen the parish’s vegetable farm, take a walk past the far end of the solar panels. The view justifies the effort. That field of green close to the fence is the pumpkin patch. If these pumpkins make it to market, you can expect a significant dip in world pumpkin prices. (OK, slight exaggeration)

  • Attention Caregivers. If you are a caregiver – for friends, relatives or if it is your job – Mark your calendar for our annual caregivers retreat on Saturday, September 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the parish Hospitality Room. The morning will start with Mass, followed by the retreat program and lunch. If you have friends and relatives who are caregivers, please invite them, regardless of their parish affiliation or religious affiliation. More details to follow.

  • Elijah’s Promise! Our parish is renewing its commitment to serve in the dining room of Elijah’s Soup Kitchen. The current plan is for St Joe’s to staff the dining room on the third Sunday of each month. It is an ideal ministry for those who have limited time to provide weekday ministry. It is also a terrific ministry for families that like to serve together. If you can join us on Sunday, August 20 – from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – terrific! Please fill in this form or contact Terry Lee or Michelle Laffoon

This Week in Community:

  • Thanks to the Acoustics Task Force. Six parishioners have agreed to manage the renovation of the church acoustics. Many of you mention that you have good hearing but cannot hear in church. We are in the very first stages of analyzing and correcting. Please let me know if you have any special concerns. You can read the initial planning document here.

  • Thanks to all who have pitched in to renew the courtyard garden. Jeremy Goldstone built the fence to keep the deer out. Brian Gilmurray (staff) and Walt Rusak did a yeoman’s job on a sweltering day removing the overgrown junipers and roses. Rich Pennacchio (staff) removed all the stumps and Ken Scherer arranged to have the top layer of clay removed from the new beds. Suzanne and Vince Kral pulverized the underlying clay and mixed in the hi-test peat moss. We will spread the new topsoil on Saturday and the manure on Sunday, after the last Mass. The soil is in tip top shape and ready for any colorful perennials you care to share. The garden re-dedication is currently scheduled for St. Francis’ feast. 

  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions about types of adult formation programs you would like our parish to provide during the upcoming school year.

  • Contact Michelle Laffoon if you have home medical equipment to donate. Also, let Michelle know if you would like to help coordinate that emerging ministry.

  • Many thanks to the more than 250 families who have completed their registration process for 2017-2018 religious ed classes by the 7/31 deadline! We are currently sorting through it all, and figuring out where we still have a need for teachers and aides. If you are interested in sharing your faith this way, we would love to have you. Please contact Jim Jungels.Also, anyone who has already registered should hear by the end of the month about their class placement. Anyone who still needs to register can go to the website. We will place your children as soon as we have finalized classes for those registered by the deadline.

  • HELP NEEDED: Please let me know if you might help us fill one of the following positions:

    • A Security Pro. If you have worked in corporate or industrial security, the Buildings and Grounds Committee could use your help as it figures out how to reorganize the parish lock and key system.

    • A Municipal or Corporate Planner. If you have ever worked as a strategic planner, the Parish Council could use your expertise as its planning committee sets about the work of formulating a spiritual/pastoral/formational/facilities/financial plan for the parish. 

    • An Acoustics Expert. See above for report on Acoustics overhaul.

    • A Communications Professional.The Parish Council is still seeking just the right person to chair the communications group – to help us communicate more richly with each other and our community.

Remember, August is here. If you are thinking of getting some down time, get it while the getting is good. You deserve it! 

 

Best blessings

Fr Hank