From Member Parishes

October 3, 1999
Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


First Reading - Isaiah 5:1-7 (139)
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 80:12-20
Second Reading - Philippians 4:6-9
Gospel - Matthew 21:33-43


North American Martyrs Catholic Church, Florissant, Missouri

Feast of the North American Martyrs:

On Tuesday, October 19, we will have a special celebration to mark our Parish Feast day.

We will begin by celebrating at 8:15 a.m Mass. Following Mass and Devotions, everyone will be invited to come over to the rectory meeting room for coffee and donuts and to view a 40 minute video. We hope that you will be able to celebrate with us!

The next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief synopsis on the North American Martyrs.

Did you know that Rene Goupil was the first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred. He was tomahawked for having made the sign of the cross on the brow of some children.

Father Charles Garnier was shot to death as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack.

Gabriel Lalemant had taken a vow to sacrifice his life to the Indians. He was horribly tortured to death.


Our Lady Of Lourdes, Decatur, Illinois

TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Dear friends in Christ:

October is Respect Life Month, and the theme this year is Neither Do I Condemn You, echoing Jesus' words in the Gospel and focusing our attention on the mercy and love of God. Pope John Paul II tells us the joy of every jubilee is a joy based upon the forgiveness of sins, the joy of conversion. Our sacramental focus, then, as we prepare for the Jubilee Year 2000 is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In his encyclical, THE GOSPEL OF LIFE, the Holy Father speaks of a growing culture of death. Sadly, the evidence for this surrounds us - abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, to say nothing of the growing threat of violence of guns in our schools, homes and streets.

October's focus on respect for life and reconciliation calls each of us to counter the culture of death. Whatever effort each of us makes is an important step in restoring the dignity of every human person. It begins with our pro-life efforts in October at the Life Chains and pro-life banquets. Those efforts are reinforced and strengthened with prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. The prayer of our Ministers of Praise, whose physical condition does not allow them to come to church, is tremendously valuable to our pro-life efforts.

A wonderful way to encourage healing and reconciliation is Project Rachel, our outreach for persons carrying the grief and sorrow of an abortion. They may call toll-free 1-877-722-4335 (all calls are confidential) and talk with someone who will share with them the good news of God's love and mercy.

Thank you for your efforts to counter the culture of death and promote the dignity of life. As we approach the Jubilee Year 2000, we thank God for the blessings we have received and pray for the needs of our society so that justice and peace will be there for us and for all people.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Daniel L. Ryan


St. John The Evangelist, Lawrence, Kansas

SOCIAL JUSTICE/SOCIAL ACTION

by Pam Casagrande.

The Church sets aside the month of October as "Respect Life Month". The most basic theme of Catholc social teaching...the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life...is the basis for this month's reflection and activities. The US Catholic Conference packet for the month includes information about assisted suicide and the right to die, post-abortion reconciliation and Project Rachel, teen pregnancy, children of the street.

"Respect Life" concerns not only conception and death issues, but also issues of poverty, racism, capital punishment...all issues that center on how human life is treated, how human beings are allowed to live.

"...human life is a gift from God over which we have no authority from the moment life is given at conception until life's natural end, and in fact the end of life is a great passage to another life. If the wider society continues to reject the true meaning of freedom---the freedom to choose life---we will move closer to a world in which power, not truth, will prevail. In such a world, human life will always be at risk. Only in a world that acknowledges that life is a divine gift will human beings and human societies have the chance to flourish." (Rev. J. Augustine DiNoia, OP)


Cathedral of St. Peter, Kansas City, Kansas

THE STRANGER

A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning Dad was fascinated with this newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later. As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God, and Dad taught me to obey it.But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind,but sometimes Mom would get up- while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places-go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. You see,my dad ruled the household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house-not from us, from our friends or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. But the stranger was never confronted. My Dad was a teetotaler who didn't permit alcohol in his home not even for cooking. But the stranger felt like we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He talked freely about sex. His comment were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger. As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents' den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?....We always just called him TV.


St. Alban Roe, Glencoe, Missouri

Last Tuesday after evening meetings I watched the last half of the PBS documentary titled Pope John Paul II-the Millennium Pope. The documentary presented reflections on key themes that have defined Pope John Paul's era. A variety of speakers and commentators were interspersed with film footage of Pope John Paul's travels and 20th century history. The commentators chosen reflected a great variety of perspective from the critical or negative to those who greatly admire and applaud his meaning and influence upon our church and world. A concluding commentary asked the question whether Pope John Paul is obsessed with his early experience of tragedy and violence through growing up in occupied Poland during World War II, or is he a prophetic voice who sees something many of us are missing. Many Catholic believe that he is a prophetic voice- a "watchman" calling out to our world to return to God ways as revealed by Jesus Christ-'the way, truth and the life" (Jn. 14:6).

This Sunday's readings are readily connected to the prophetic warning of Pope John Paul to reverse the drift toward the culture of death and violence. October has been designated by our Church as Respect Life month, and also connected to "save the earth" concerns via the feast of the St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. "We are the workers entrusted with the care of God' vineyards; we are stewards of the earth. The decades of concern and "save the earth" alarms may have grown old to our ears, but what progress have we made?" (Living the Word, page 6)

Renew 2000 begins throughout the Archdiocese this week. The Renew 2000 office has provided the following commentary connecting this Sunday's reading's to this weeks Renew 2000 theme.

-Our beginning point for the first week of Renew 2000 is the Trinity. The Trinitarian image of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a community of person, individual yet united, bonded together, in a dynamic relationship of love for all eternity, reminds us that, created in God's image, we come to fulfillment only in relationship with others.

-The Trinity models and communicates the kind of love to which we are called as we live in relationship with others. This call to live in loving relationship with others also summons us to foster the development of true community among all people.

-The vineyard in today's scriptures is a symbol of the community of God's people. Isaiah and Jesus invite us to examine the state of our vineyard. Our experiences of community can extend from a small intimate setting of family or a circle of friends...to a gathering as large as our parish community...to an image as all embracing as the community of God's people on earth. But large or small, the vineyard community can only bear good fruit when we seek to live in loving, caring relationship with others.

-Today our culture and our world threaten the possibilities for community in many ways. Community breaks down when we fail to build and nurture relationships. We desire to bear good fruit but, with good intentions, we allow ourselves to be pulled in too many directions. We become distracted and lose focus on what really matters. As a result, relationships become stressed, we fall behind in our commitments, we lose patience in situations that have not been scheduled into our day.

-Violence and injustice are the wild grapes of our vineyard. Violence flourishes where people are isolated, ignored or alienated. Violence happens when people do not have a caring community where they feel loved and accepted; where their voices are not heard and they cannot communicate their feelings; where they are not enabled and supported to be all that God has called them to be.

-We do violence to one another and ourselves when our jobs, our priorities, and our commitments become more important than our relationships. We participate in acts of injustice when our "hunger for more" blinds or distracts us from the hunger and poverty of brothers and sisters in need.

-Paul's message to the Philipians is a message for us as well. We must direct our lives toward all that is true, all that deserves respect and all that is honest, pure and admirable. Paul encourages the community to put aside its preoccupations because all that really matters is how we live in relationship with God and with others.

-Community begins when we recognize God's presence within us and within others. We must tend and care for the community of our family, the community of our parish, the community of our world. As we learn to live in loving relationship with others, our vineyard of our communities will in turn bear quality fruit. Only then can we realize the full potential of community to become the cornerstone and foundation from which others can welcome God into their world.


St. Pius X Church, Greensboro, North Carolina

MILLENNIUM MOMENTS

POPE JOHN PAUL II has declared 2000 a holy year of jubilee. For the Great Jubilee of 2000, our bishops' conference is promoting a Jubilee Pledge for Charity, Justice and Peace as one concrete way for believers to commit to renewed prayer, reflection, service and action (see The Jubilee Pledge below):

THE JUBILEE PLEDGE
For Charity, Justice and Peace

As disciples of Jesus in the new millennium, I/we pledge to:

PRAY regularly for justice and peace.
LEARN more about Catholic social teaching and its call to protect human life, stand with the poor and care for creation.
REACH across boundaries of religion, race, ethnicity, gender and disabling conditions.
LIVE justly in family life, school, work, the marketplace and the political arena.
SERVE those who are poor and vulnerable, sharing more time and talent.
GIVE more generously to those in need at home and abroad.
ADVOCATE for public policies that protect human life, promote human dignity, preserve God's creation and build peace.
ENCOURAGE others to work for greater charity, justice and peace.


St. Anthony of Padua, St. Louis, Missouri

Preparing for 2000:

JOHN PAUL II IN ST. LOUIS

EVENING PRAYER IN THE CATHEDRAL BASILICA OF SAINT LOUIS

Our gracious host, Archbishop Rigali, has invited to this Evening Prayer representatives of many different religious groups and sectors of civil society. I greet the Vice President of the United States of America, and the other civil authorities and community leaders present. I greet my brothers and sisters in the Catholic faith: the members of the laity who want to live their baptismal dignity ever more intensely in their efforts to bring the Gospel to bear on the realities of everyday life in society.

With affection I greet my brother priests, representing all the many zealous and generous priests of St. Louis and other Dioceses. My hope is that you will rejoice each day in your encounter -- in prayer and in the Eucharist -- with the living Jesus Christ, whose priesthood you share. I happily greet the deacons of the Church and encourage you in your liturgical, pastoral and charitable ministry. A special word of thanks goes to your wives and families for their supportive role in this ministry.

The many Religious who are here this evening represent thousands and thousands of women and men who have labored in the Archdiocese from the beginning. You are those who follow Christ by imitating his total self-giving to the Father and to the cause of his Kingdom. My appreciation and thanks go to each one of you.

I gladly address a special word of encouragement to the seminarians. You will be the priests of the new Millennium, working with Christ in the new evangelization, helping the Church, under the action of the Holy Spirit, to meet the demands of the new century. I pray each day that the Lord will make you "shepherds after his own heart" (Jer 3:15).

-- Pope John Paul II


St. Anthony of Padua, Clarksville, Indiana

"Be quiet! You're in church now!" Many of us grew up being reminded regularly that appropriate behavior during Mass meant being silent. Church and the library had that in common. Then, with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, active participation became the norm. Usually, active participation is understood as joining in the singing and saying the responses along with everyone else. Rarely do we expand the definition of participation to include communal silence.

Public silence is often very awkward. We assume that some forgot their cue or made an embarrassing mistake. Yet we also know the heart-gripping impact of a grandstand full of people observing a moment of silence. The liturgy invites us to pray without words several times during Sunday Mass. Before the opening prayer, after each of the readings, after the homily, perhaps during the intercessions and again after communion, we are given the opportunity to call to mind God's presence in our midst, to offer our personal petitions and to express our thanks of God's continuing blessings.

Such silence is not a passive "shutting down" but rather an attentive awareness of our intimate connection with the Lord and with one another. Such awareness requires ample time to develop, not only at a particular liturgy but Sunday after Sunday. Only then will the inevitable coughing, banging kneelers and fussing babies mark the beginning of our silence and not the end of it!

In another, more profound sense, we are always silent at liturgy, even when we speak. We sing psalms and speak prayers that are not our own but are the words of our ancestors in faith and the words of the church. Our individualistic American culture finds such behavior suspicious and even threatening: "I am my own person!" But it is precisely in that surrender to the power of ritual and to the life of the larger community that we discover our true voice.

Copyright 1998
Archdiocese of Chicago
Liturgy Training Publication


St. Paul Church, Fenton, Missouri

A LIFE DIVIDED

It seems to me that the greatest tear in life is the pull between living according to the value system of the world and living the kingdom. The world holds out success as its goal. Its rule is compete. The kingdom holds out unity as the goal. Its rule is love.

A big source of the tear is the fact that I have been thoroughly programmed in the value system of the world. I have been taught to put a high value on the opinion of others. I want their approval. I worry about what others think of me. In order to gain approval, I have learned the language of manipulation. I want you to think and feel what I want you to think and feel.

So, for example, rather than saying, You do things I don't like, I'll say, You make me mad. This approach does two things. It exonerates me of all blame. Yes, I'm being childish, but it's not my fault. It's your fault. It is also designed to make you feel remorse. Once I get you there, you owe me. I win.

On the other hand, love begins by accepting you right where you are. You don't owe me because I love you. Just be you. That's good enough for me.

Another aspect of my programming is the idea that I have a right to expect certain things from life and from you. There is a certain sense of fairness that we like to call justice. So if I do something for you, I have a right to expect gratitude from you. If I work hard, I have a right to expect good compensation. If I try my best to please you, I have a right to your approval.

When Jesus speaks of the kingdom he tells us to do things for people who can't repay. He tells us to be satisfied with what we get. He tells us to go the extra mile with those who demand.

Where does the tear in me come from? Which seems more normal, the way of the world or the way of the kingdom? Even though I know that the fruits of the world are stress, anxiety and frustration, I will still pursue that way. The fruits of the kingdom are love and peace and patience. But that way doesn't seem normal.

Maybe this is what Augustine meant when he said that we are created for God and that we will not rest until we rest in God.


TO HELP PREPARE FOR GOD'S WORD
Readings for next week,
October 10, 1999
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Laity Sunday
Vocation Awareness Sunday

First Reading - Isaiah 25:6-10a (142)
Responsorial Psalm - Psalms 23:1-6
Second Reading - Philippians 4:12-20
Gospel - Matthew 22:1-14 or 22:1-10


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