So Many Choices

So Many Choices!

Modern American culture offers us more choices on how to spend our time than in any time in the history of humankind.  In many ways, these opportunities are  blessings; but the sheer number of opportunities also poses challenges.

As the school year wraps up for families and they move into a “summer” schedule, this reality comes into focus for many parents.  But even for those who don’t have the responsibility of planning a summer’s worth of activities for their children, this time of year offers an opportunity to be more intentional.

Intentional is a big word in the world of stewardship and evangelization. We are being first called to be and then to formintentional disciples”.  In our stewardship pillar, Dedicated Discipleship, we are invited to practice intentional love of God and neighbor.  Clearly, in the midst of this milieu of choices, Catholic stewards are being invited to do more than just drift through our days wandering from one activity to another aimlessly.

There are many ways we can be more intentional, but today I would like to offer just one useful tool for sifting through the many choices we face.  It has clarified my options and has assisted me in understanding my underlying motivations and desires.  And it is simply this: the difference between a value and an ideal:

  • A Value is something I believe is good and also is something I am willing to sacrifice something else for to have in my life now.
  • An Ideal is also something I believe is good, but it is not something I am willing to sacrifice something else to have in my life now.

This knowledge has been a great tool for slicing through the myriad of good things there are to choose from in our culture.  In striving to be intentional, it is also a helpful tool in sorting the good from the best.  Because as Andrew Pudewa has said, “The challenge is not to let good things get in the way of the best things.”

So here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • If I look at the way I spend my time now, what do my choices reveal about what I consider a value and what I consider an ideal?
  • As I plan for the summer, how would I categorize possible activities for myself or for my children as “values” or as “ideals”?
  • Most importantly, for the dedicated disciple, what would Jesus put under the “value” column?  Does my list correspond to his? Am I willing to sacrifice to put those things He values most into my life today?

This last question is important as we strive to live this Catholic Way of Life.  In our Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, it states some of the ideals we are striving for as:

  • “The majority of our parishioners put fellowship with Jesus Christ and His Church above their participation in sports, media or other leisure activities encouraged by our culture.”
  • And, “Many parishioners practice intentional generosity . . . generously give themselves in service inside and outside the church . . . practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy . . . . and are intentional and active in caring for the poor and marginalized.”

Certainly anyone reading this, and perhaps the vast majority of those who come to church on Sunday would see the activities outlined above as good.  The important question is, though, are they a value or are they an ideal?  As stewards, we are invited to continue to encourage and inspire each other to intentionally choose the living out of our faith in concrete ways and perhaps more importantly, to be willing to sacrifice other things in order to do so. Distinguishing our values from our ideals assists us in doing just that.

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

8 + 7 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr
(605) 209-3418

“I Used to Think My Mom Lived in the Laundry Room!”

“I Used to Think My Mom Lived in the Laundry Room!”

Last October, the Chancery staff retreat was led by Deacon James Keating of the Archdiocese of Omaha.  One of the stories he told us has come to my mind recently as we approach the season of Lent.  He shared:

When I was a small boy, I used to think my mom lived in the laundry room.  Caring for a large family, she seemed to always be doing a load of laundry.  One morning, I came down to the kitchen.  As I drew near, I heard my mom’s voice from the laundry room, “Jimmy, don’t touch the cookies!”  She had been up early and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies were on the counter.  I inched over to them.  I looked longingly at them.  I smelled them.  Finally, I climbed up on the counter to sit next to them.  I looked carefully at the full plate, picking out the biggest one and thinking, “that is the one I will choose when she gives me permission to have one.” 

Suddenly, I heard the sound of her coming up the steps.  Panicking, I leapt off the counter.  The plate of cookies came down with me, crashing to the floor, shattering the plate and sending cookies in all directions.  When she entered the room, I was standing in the midst of the mess with my head down.
                “Jimmy, did you do this?” my mom said.
                “No.” I whispered, head down.
                “Jimmy, did you do this?” my mom said again.
                “No.” I whispered once more, my head still down.
                Tiptoeing through the mess, she came to me, and lifted my chin.  My eyes darted back and forth.  I was reluctant to look into her eyes.  Finally, unable to resist “the mom stare”, I looked at her.  With her eyes locked on mine, she said once more, “Jimmy, did you do this?”
                “Yes.” I said as the tears welled up.
                She hugged me tightly and while I was secure in her arms and enveloped in her love, she whispered to me, “Don’t ever lie to me again.”
This, he went on to say, is precisely how the Lord deals with us.  He does invite us to own up to the mess of sin and chaos which surrounds us.  Gently, he asks us, “did you do this?”   However, he ALWAYS does so within the embrace of His great love for us. 

As we prepare to enter the season of Lent, the Church invites us to repentance, to a metanoia (a complete change of heart, a turning around – away from sin and towards the Lord).  I find myself asking this question, “What am I going to do for Lent?”  But, I believe the better question is, “What does the Lord want to do in me this Lent?”  Deacon Keating’s story inspires me to have the courage to stand in the midst of the shattered plates and scattered cookies in my life and to look Jesus in the eye and have the courage to receive the truth of the brokenness in life and take responsibility for my part in it.  Most importantly, though, it inspires me to allow myself to be received into the loving arms of Jesus and allow Him to hold me tightly.  And then to listen as he reveals to me the real root of my sin and the way out of it. 

In the coming days, let’s make room in our lives for some silence and invite the Lord in.  Not to ponder, “What am I going to do for Lent?”, but instead, “Jesus, what do you desire to do in and for me this Lent?”

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

2 + 8 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

Everyone We Encounter Is a Gift

Everyone We Encounter Is a Gift

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has once again invited us to pray a novena for Life as we prepare to commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision which legalized abortion in the United States. (http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/nine-days-of-prayer-penance-and-pilgrimage.cfm)  I hope you have (or will if you are just learning about it) make a commitment to joining us as a way of living A Catholic Way of Life.

As Bishop Gruss reminds us in our pastoral plan, prayer “is the very foundation of the Catholic life.”  And one of the behaviors which exemplify that we have incorporated this value into our lives is that, “We will regularly participate in the devotional life of the Church.”  Prayer is a key element in our Stewardship pillar, Lively Faith as well.  Good stewards, as disciples, are committed to prayer as the foundation of their lives. 

This novena also gives us the opportunity to practice another of the Diocese’s core values: solidarity.  The virtue of solidarity flows “from the reality that we are all created in God’s image and likeness and our fundamental rights flow from the dignity intrinsic in each person.”  Bishop Gruss goes on to say, “the dignity of the human person and the pursuit of the common good are what must shape the ministry of solidarity.”  And the Characteristics echo this when it states, “Both our pastor and parishioners respect the dignity of the human person and pursue the common good with humility and docility.” In this novena, we desire and pray for both. 

What strikes me the most perhaps, though, in reflecting on how we practically live our commitment to respect life as stewards is this line from Day 2 of the Novena:  “Everyone we encounter is a gift, not because of what they can do or accomplish, but because of who they are — a beloved child of God.”  If we were able to act out of this truth in every single interaction we had with another during the course of a day, we would truly be living a life of Generous Hospitality.  Because Generous Hospitality, at its heart is simply welcoming the other as truly a gift and the beloved of God.  Simple, but not easy.   

Please also keep in your prayers those from our Diocese who have traveled to participate in the March for Life in Washington DC this week.  Please pray for their safety and that they will be blessed during this pilgrimage.  And please join me in praying a prayer of thanksgiving for their witness.  Dedicated disciples, “are willing to make their faith visible, to share it with others and to witness inside and outside their parish.”  We are blessed by their courage and their joyful defense of life!
(quotations taken from Through Him, With Him and In Him, pp. 29, 33, 37 and 39-40; and Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, pp. 14 and 16)

 

EVERY LIFE IS WORTH LIVING
Heavenly Father, thank you
for the precious gift of life.
Help us to cherish and protect
this gift, even in the midst of fear,
pain, and suffering.
Give us love for all people,
especially the most vulnerable,
and help us bear witness to the
truth that every life is worth living.
Grant us the humility to accept 
help when we are in need,
and teach us to be merciful to all.
Through our words and actions,
may others encounter the
outstretched hands
of Your mercy.
We ask this through
Christ, our Lord.
Amen.
               (Day 2 of the Novena)

 

Pray the Novena with us!
www.9daysforlife.com

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

10 + 5 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

The custom of making New Year’s Resolutions goes back thousands of years.  There is evidence that the Babylonians had a New Year’s celebration which included promises to pay debts and return any borrowed objects.  Similarly, ancient Romans made sacrifices to the god Janus and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. 

Merriam-Webster reports, “a 1671 entry from the diaries of Anne Halkett, a writer and member of the Scottish gentry, contains a number of pledges, typically taken from biblical verses such as “I will not offend any more”. Halkett titled this page “Resolutions”, and wrote them on January 2nd, which would possibly indicate that the practice was in use at the time, even if people did not refer to it as a New Year’s resolution.”

In 1740, the founder of Methodism, John Wesley created a service celebrated either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day that included readings from Scripture and hymns and provided a spiritual alternative to traditional New Year’s celebrations.  Today within evangelical Protestantism these services include making resolutions for the coming year. 

The January 1st issue of a Boston newspaper from 1813 reads, “And yet, I believe there are multitudes of people, accustomed to receive injunctions of new year resolutions, who will sin all the month of December, with a serious determination of beginning the new year with new resolutions and new behaviour, and with the full belief that they shall thus expiate and wipe away all their former faults.” 

While clearly long-standing and popular, one cannot say the practice of making New Year’s Resolutions is very successful.  Forbes magazine reports that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.

Why am I writing this to you on November 29th?  And what does it have to do with Living This Catholic Way of Life?  This Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent and with Advent we usher in a new year in the Church.  Why not consider making some “New Year’s Resolutions” to mark the season, and perhaps to look at our three pillars of Stewardship to focus your thoughts:

  • What is one thing I can do this Advent to cultivate Generous Hospitality in my life?
  • Can I commit ten minutes a day to some extra spiritual activity – reading or prayer as a way to live Lively Faith?
  • Is there a virtue the Lord would like me to grow in?
  • Can I commit to being more intentional about how I spend the gifts of time and other resources this Advent and thus become a more dedicated disciple?
In doing so, we have very little to lose and everything to gain.  Calling on the grace of God poured out to us each day and asking for the zeal to draw closer to Him gives us powerful assistance in beating the dismal secular failure rate of 92%.  Our New Year’s resolutions have a power behind them that purely secular good intentions do not.  And even if our efforts do not go as we plan, even if, in our eyes, we seem not to have “achieved” our goals, the Lord will bless our efforts.

St. Theresa of Calcutta is credited with saying, “God does not call us to be successful.  He calls us to be faithful.”

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

15 + 9 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

Bartimaeus the Steward

Bartimaeus the Steward

In response to my email of October 11th, I heard back from several of you who shared with me some of the ways your parish is paying attention to the small details in order to be more hospitable.  Thank you! 

Here are a couple:

  • Last year we did a hoe down chili cook-off in January. It was nice to have a bit of fun in January, seems like a blank space in the calendar. 
  • The biggest impact OLBH has had on welcoming families has been to stock the nursery with various sizes of diapers and wipes and pull ups for the times you forget or run out of something while here. It is very inexpensive – we bought four small diaper packages a year ago and are just now running out – but it makes parents feel welcome.
I am sure there are many ways parishioners around the Diocese are finding simple but meaningful ways to extend hospitality.  It is a joy to hear of some of them.

This past Friday I returned from a 12-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  The whole trip was filled with grace and blessings and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go.  The pilgrimage was led by Fr. Jacques Phillippe and Sr. Magdalit Bolduc from the Community of the Beatitudes.  This morning I was thinking about something Fr. Phillippe said to us on the evening of our arrival.  He said that often times we believe that we really cannot change or be changed. “That is just the way I am”, we say to ourselves.  Fr. Phillippe said that attitude, although quite common among Christians, speaks of a lack of Christian hope.  We lack the virtue of hope in the power and work of God’s grace in our lives if we believe that we cannot change.

Both unconsciously and consciously I think we often live and act out of this belief, both in how we think about ourselves personally, but also about how we think about the institutions we are a part of, whether it be the workplace, school, or church.  We are dissatisfied and unhappy about the status quo, but feel a sense of hopelessness about it ever changing.  On the other hand, we also experience as Americans this almost blind belief that if something is new it must also be good and we relentlessly pursue the next best thing; in technology, in diets, in entertainment; in educational and parenting practices, in church programs. Interesting how we hold these seemingly contradictory extremes simultaneously in our daily lives; on the one hand thinking things will never change while at the same time, relentlessly searching for and trying new things, throwing out the old and moving from one new novelty to the next.  All the while remaining restless.

It is only in actively seeking Christian maturity and Christian hope that we can navigate between the tendency to move back and forth from these two extremes.  The mature disciple, like Mary, is open and docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and therefore, not rigid; but open to change.  At the same time, the mature disciple is rooted firmly in the stable rock of Faith; is growing in prudence and right judgment and so is not easily blown one direction and then another by quickly changing fads.

Both as individuals and as church communities, it is important to be watchful and attentive to staying within this balance.  On the one hand, we must hold firmly to the belief expressed in the Book of Revelation, “See I make all things new” (21:5), firmly rooting ourselves in Hope which frees us to be open to the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  At the same time, the heritage of the Church carries with it the wisdom of the ages and we must guard against absorbing a cultural disdain for anything “old” and a presumption that we are wiser than those who have gone before us.  As we talk about and discern how to move from “maintenance” to “mission” (p. i, Through Him, With Him and In Him), as we argue with one another about whether or not the church is changing too much or not enough, as we debate about this new program or that or about whether to abandon “programs” all together,  let us continue to encourage one another to do so always with fervent prayer and commitment to growth in virtue.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Bartimaeus provides us with just such encouragement.  He cries out to the Lord with great faith and with great persistence – a model for prayer.  In a gesture of great detachment, he throws his cloak (his only security in his current state of life) to come to the Lord.  Honestly sharing his desire with the Lord, he is healed and “followed him on the way” – literally, “followed in His footsteps”.  Bartimaeus is a steward and a disciple, a man of fervent, persistent, and honest prayer who trusts completely in the Lord and follows in His footsteps.  Let us all strive to do likewise.

 

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

3 + 11 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418