This Week At St. Stanislaus and Mater Dei Catholic School:
- Sunday, November 29: 1st Sunday of Advent, Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and the Rite of Welcoming Baptized but Previously Uncatechized Adults Who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church, Blessing of New Eucharistic Ministers, Christmas Giving Tree Gift Drive begins
- Monday, November 30: Afternoon of Sanctification for Priests of the Archdiocese (at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary), The Prophets’ Bible Study 9 am (Parish Meeting Room)
- Tuesday, December 1: Spanish Prayer Group at 7 pm (Parish Center Chapel)
- Wednesday, December 2: St. Stanislaus Senior Club Christmas Luncheon 1 pm (at William Penn Inn)
- Thursday, December 3rd: Advent Evening of Reflection with Fr. Mullan from 7 – 9 pm (Parish Center Chapel), The Prophets’ Bible Study 7 pm (Cahill Room)
- Friday, December 4 through Saturday December 5: Set up for St. Stanislaus Annual Christmas Craft Fair Benefitting Mater Dei Catholic School (Fair open on Sunday, December 6 from 10 am – 3 pm)
The Greatest Solace
A reflection on the readings for the First Sunday of Advent – November 29, 2015 by Deacon Greg Kandra
Advent is traditionally the time of anticipation, of breathless wonder and waiting. It’s a season, right now, perfectly attuned to our times.
As I write this, Belgium is anxious and on alert for a possible terrorist attack. Presidential candidates are stoking fears. Airlines are on edge again and again.
I can’t help but think the Gospel we encounter this Sunday could speak to us here and now:
“Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Yet, almost as a soothing counterpoint, comes this heartfelt message of hope from St. Paul:
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts.
The good people of Thessalonica to whom Paul was writing had their own troubles, and their own age of anxiety; they waited with joyful hope for Christ’s imminent return, while struggling to keep the young Christian faith alive in a time of persecution. Yet Paul’s advice to them is a wisdom that transcends the ages: “increase and abound in love.” In a time of uncertainty or even fear, the greatest solace, and greatest prescription, remains Christian love for one another.
So it could be for our time, too-and for the time of Advent. This season traditionally brings its added pressures and problems-Shopping! Baking! Family stress!-and the words from Paul can be a blessed balm. Don’t flinch from love; increase and abound in it. Seek opportunities to grow in holiness. Put simply, “Conduct yourselves to please God.” All else, really, is a distraction.
It’s all a distraction that can turn our hearts toward fear and away from the true essence and meaning of this season: making ourselves ready to welcome Christ at Christmas. In these coming weeks, we need to keep our eyes on the prize-the presence of God in our world in the astonishing act of Incarnation, a gesture of humility and hope that transformed the world.
Of all the things we may find ourselves waiting for this Advent, that is really the only one that matters
The Joy of the Gospel
Pope Francis’ exhortation is the blueprint for his papacy
By PAT MARRIN
When Pope Francis issued his exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” on November 24, 2013, just eight months into his papacy, he gave us a blueprint of his hopes for the church. A careful reading of this substantial but very accessible text is a must for every pastor, minister and lay person who wants to share actively in the pope’s vision.
This article is a brief summary of the high points of the document focusing on the essential spirit of Francis.
Everyone should read the full text, available in many formats at http://sperolaus.com/2013/11/download-evangelii-gaudium.
Francis restates familiar church teaching, but with a shift in emphasis that is at the heart of his appeal to millions inside and outside the church who have longed for a more open and welcoming Catholic church. The title, “The Joy of the Gospel,” expresses the core message and mission of the church — a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ, offered freely to all people as the decisive revelation about the meaning of history and authentic human fulfillment.
Pope Francis has personally demonstrated that it is joy that attracts people to the Gospel. He rejects legalism or moralism as effective modes of evangelization. God’s mercy must be paramount if the church is to reach millions of wounded, disoriented or misguided seekers in today’s world. Ministers who have lost touch with their own personal encounter with God must reclaim that intimacy in order to represent the divine face of mercy always turned to the world. The pope reaffirms that the life energy of the church is missionary. We are always to be going outward with the good news we have received. When the church retreats inward to a defensive or self-affirming comfort zone, she ceases to be the church.
The church is most alive at its growing edges, where creativity and enculturation constantly engage the world. Every baptized member is a missionary. To lose the missionary spirit is stop being transformed by Christ, sent by the Father to send us into the world. Francis offers a list of temptations encountered by pastoral workers, from pessimism to ambition or internal conflict, which keep them from evangelizing and being evangelized.
Not surprisingly, the pope devotes a large portion of his text to liturgical preaching, which he likens to a “mother’s conversation” with her children about important beliefs and values. Careful preparation, a sensitive ear to pastoral need and a focus on a personal encounter with Christ are indispensable for effective preaching.
At this point in the document, the pope takes up the social dimension of evangelization. The Gospel’s spiritual ideals must be applied to social, political and economic systems. Salvation is not just about heaven but about human rights and dignity in this world. Therefore, the church cannot ignore or be complicit with systems of wealth and power based on structural injustice and inequality that divide the human community into sectors of immense wealth and privilege for the few built on exploitation and poverty for the majority, or that degrade the planet, which belongs to everyone and to future generations.
While the pope does not advance specific solutions or favor any one ideological approach to solving these interlocking problems, he does offer a set of principles to guide the process of dialogue toward needed change. His principles favor collaboration over competition, long-term community assessment and programs over global grand schemes, the common good over all other considerations and, always as starting point and goal, the protection of human dignity for all people, especially the most vulnerable. There is no other path toward peace and security.
Addressing these critical global challenges inevitably touches on the need for dialogue between science and religion, among Christian communions and all major religions and other proponents of human development. The goal, the pope says, is not surface or syncretic agreement, but a dynamic unity among diverse voices bringing forward their wisdom and experience. For the church, this means proclaiming Jesus Christ as the model for human fulfillment and divine destiny. Jesus reveals God and God’s intentions for the world. Evangelization must demonstrate the truth of this belief by producing Christians filled with joy and capable of practicing what they preach in service and reconciliation.
Pope Francis has publicly mused about his own mortality, giving himself perhaps three years as pope before he dies or retires. His leadership has diffused authority and responsibility for sharing the Gospel to every member of the church. His example of humility and compassion for the poor and suffering has proved a precious sign to the church, challenging all of us to use these next years in our brief lives to grow in Christ, accept our own missionary identity and make our lives models of the joy of the Gospel.