Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten Season – March 1st, 2017
This Wednesday, March 1 we begin our annual conversion period known as lent. Catholics are encouraged to prepare their hearts, souls and minds for the great Easter sacraments and the celebration of the Lord’s victory over sin and death. A radical transformation of life on all levels (social, emotional, spiritual, etc) is what Lent calls for from each of us. Root out sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Ashes will be distributed at all Masses (note that this means you have to attend; you cannot simply stop by and ask for ashes) on Wednesday, March 1st. Masses are at 6:30am, 9am, 12:05pm and 7pm (in Spanish). We will also be distributing ashes to PREP children during the Wednesday evening PREP session, and to all Mater Dei Catholic School Students, who will attend the 9am Parish Mass or receive ashes in their classrooms due to their young ages.
Please take advantage of all the Lenten programming we have at the parish to make this year’s Lent the Best-Ever!
2016 Tax Contribution Statements NOW AVAILABLE
E-mails have been sent with the 2016 year end statements to those parishioners with a current e-mail address in the parishioner database. Parishioners may also call the Parish Center office between 9-4 on Monday through Friday and a printed copy can be mailed to your home or you can pick it up at the Parish Center after Mass on Sundays.
Sunday Scriptural Reflection – 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Just When You Think Life Is for the Birds, Take Heart!
by Rev. Thomas Rosica, CSB
Those who truly know God as the heavenly Father revealed by Jesus cannot be concerned about human needs in the same way. While disciples have to take reasonable care of themselves and of those for whom they are responsible, such concerns take second place to dedication to the rule of God and the “righteousness” (v. 33) for which it calls.
Verse 25 of today’s Gospel indicates two major areas of concern for the human being: sustenance (food and drink) necessary for life, and clothing. Each of the areas is addressed — food (vv. 26-27), clothing (vv. 28-30) — in an argument that rests upon a New Testament logic. If God takes such care of the birds in the air, and ensures their feeding, and sees to it that the lilies of the field are magnificently adorned, how much more then will our heavenly Father take pains to see that the disciples shall not go wanting, since they are more precious in the divine sight than the birds of air and the flowers of the field?
In using this analogy, Jesus is by no means making a moral statement, but rather an imaginative appeal.
The three Scripture readings for this Sunday invite us to reflect on God’s providential care of us. When we say ‘Divine Providence,’ we are referring to the name of God, especially God as Father and Creator, which brings all of the dynamics of human existence into meaning. Providence is often expressed only as a design for the universe in which all is ordered and formed as care for lilies and sparrows. Though the term Providence is applied to God only three times in Scripture (Ecclesiastes 5:5; Wisdom 14:3; Judith 9:5), and once to Wisdom (Wisdom 6:17), teaching about Providence is consistently found in both the Old and the New Testaments. God’s will governs all things. God loves all people, desires the salvation of all and God’s paternal Providence extends to all nations. God desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they should repent; for God is above all things a merciful God and a God of much compassion. God rewards us according to our works, our thoughts and our devices. God alone converts evil into good.
You are worth more
Jesus taught about God’s provident care for his children and on not being anxious for the future. Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Jesus invited his disciples then and now to “consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” What holds true for food applies also to clothing and other necessities of life (“consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these”).
Those who see reality permeated by the Providence of God gradually grow in wisdom. Serenity, born of time and grace, becomes evident to onlookers and passersby. The terrible beauty of the earth, with its calms and its storms, its gentle breezes and its hurricanes, its new life and its deaths, seems somehow to be within the person who lives by trustingly believing in God’s Providence.
What is worth fearing?
Throughout the Old Testament, humans are the main subjects of fear. The reasons for this fear are war, death, enslavement, loss of a wife or child, disaster, or even a particular place. Trust in God brings freedom from fear. Fear also arises in the presence of those who stand in a special relation to God, such as Moses (Exodus 34:30), Joshua (Joshua 4:14), or Samuel (1 Samuel 12:18).
How many times in the Gospels do we hear Jesus telling people to “Fear not!” Jairus is not to be anxious (Mark 5:36); the disciples receive assurance (Mark 6:50); the three apostles atop Mount Tabor are enabled to look up (Matthew 17:7); the women’s fear gives way to proclamation and resurrection faith (Matthew 28:10); those whom the angels visit in the infancy narratives are told not to fear (Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10); and in a vision, Peter and Paul are both told by the Lord not to fear in a context of discipleship and service (Luke 5:10 and Acts 18:9).
What is worth fearing? Jesus warns his followers about those who can harm the soul. To what does this refer today? To those people or situations who can dehydrate the spirit, crushing it and sapping it of life, killing hopes and dreams, destroying faith and joy. Often those who dehydrate the spirit and kill hope and joy are not “bad” people! In fact, they are often very good people, and yes, even “church” people and ‘religious’ people! We often harm the souls of others through our cynicism, our meanness of spirit and smallness of mind and heart; our lack of faith, hope and joy. How often have we denied Jesus through our own reluctance to talk about him and give witness to him, for fear of excluding others?
It is consoling to know once in a while that all of our trials and tribulations, our pains anxieties are not in vain. The next time we get that fearful feeling that our life is for the birds, let us take heart, and have a bit more courage and confidence in the Father’s care.
Let me leave you with these moving words of Pope John Paul II, which he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization in New York City on October 5th, 1995. His reference to the “radiant humanity of Christ” and to the destiny of the world “in the hands of a merciful Providence” continues to move and inspire me today.
Because of the radiant humanity of Christ, nothing genuinely human fails to touch the hearts of Christians. Faith in Christ does not impel us to intolerance. On the contrary, it obliges us to engage others in a respectful dialogue. Love of Christ does not distract us from interest in others, but rather invites us to responsibility for them, to the exclusion of no one and indeed, if anything, with a special concern for the weakest and the suffering. Thus, as we approach the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ, the Church asks only to be able to propose respectfully this message of salvation, and to be able to promote, in charity and service, the solidarity of the entire human family.
Ladies and Gentlemen! I come before you, as did my predecessor Pope Paul VI exactly thirty years ago, not as one who exercises temporal power — these are his words — nor as a religious leader seeking special privileges for his community. I come before you as a witness: a witness to human dignity, a witness to hope, a witness to the conviction that the destiny of all nations lies in the hands of a merciful Providence.
We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The ‘answer’ to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social ‘model’ on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty. And the ‘soul’ of the civilization of love is the culture of freedom: the freedom of individuals and the freedom of nations, lived in self-giving solidarity and responsibility.
We must not be afraid of the future. We must not be afraid of man. It is no accident that we are here. Each and every human person has been created in the ‘image and likeness’ of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God’s grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit” (No. 17-18).
The proclamation of the word of God and the protection of creation
As we continue our reflection on God’s Word let us consider No. 108 of the postsynodal exhortation that reflected on the theme The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.
Engagement with the world, as demanded by God’s word, makes us look with new eyes at the entire created cosmos, which contains traces of that word through whom all things were made (cf. John 1:2). As men and women who believe in and proclaim the Gospel, we have a responsibility towards creation. Revelation makes known God’s plan for the cosmos, yet it also leads us to denounce that mistaken attitude which refuses to view all created realities as a reflection of their Creator, but instead as mere raw material, to be exploited without scruple. Man thus lacks that essential humility which would enable him to see creation as a gift from God, to be received and used in accordance with his plan. Instead, the arrogance of human beings who live ‘as if God did not exist’ leads them to exploit and disfigure nature, failing to see it as the handiwork of the creative word. In this theological context, I would like to echo the statements of the Synod Fathers who reminded us that ‘accepting the word of God, attested to by Scripture and by the Church’s living Tradition, gives rise to a new way of seeing things, promotes an authentic ecology which has its deepest roots in the obedience of faith … [and] develops a renewed theological sensitivity to the goodness of all things, which are created in Christ.’ We need to be re-educated in wonder and in the ability to recognize the beauty made manifest in created realities” (No. 108).
The readings for this Sunday are Isaiah 49:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34.
FORMED is an exciting new website, where St. Stanislaus parishioners can access the best programs, movies, audio talks, and e-books to deepen their relationships with Christ and His Church. If offers amazing Faith Formation at the parish and in an engaging style with the best Catholic teachers, authors, and speakers, on-demand, 24/7. Watch the FORMED preview by clicking the formed banner above . . .
How to access FORMED:
It’s easy! Log into Formed.org and access all the faith-building resources available there. You will need to set up an account (click on “My Account” in the upper right) and enter the Parish Code the first time you use the site. Our parish code is: ZR6M2C. After you’ve set up an account with your own individual password, you will not need the parish code any longer. Simply log in with the User Name and Password you have chosen for yourself.
This Week on Formed:
Recommended this week:
Movie: Pius XII
This epic film stars acclaimed actor James Cromwell in a powerful movie about the great, often hidden struggle waged by the Pope and many others with him to save the Jews from the Nazis during WWII. Everything comes together with great intensity in this dramatic story that retraces history from the documents and the testimonies of witnesses that was not fully known until now. History testifies that over 10,000 Jews were saved, hidden in churches and convents in Rome – more than in any other occupied city. Commemorate the feast of the Chair of St. Peter which occurred on February 22 by watching this dramatic movie about one of the successors of Saint Peter, Pope Pius XII.
New Programming from the Augustinian Institute!
Rise above the culture of moral relativism with Who Am I to Judge? — Responding to RELATIVISM with logic and love
Check these out . . . and get FORMED!
Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for February, 2017:
Each month, Pope Francis invites the faithful to pray for the intention he entrusts to the Church. Starting in 2017 the Pope will present only one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than the two presented before this year. He plans, however, to add a second prayer intention each month related to current events or urgent needs, like disaster relief. The urgent prayer request will help mobilize prayer and action related to the urgent situation.
For February 2017, we join the Holy Father in praying for: Comfort for the Afflicted – That all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities.