“See I Make All Things New”

“See I Make All Things New”

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus gives us a new commandment:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so also you should love one another. (cf John 13:34)  The commandment to love others is not really new.  In the Old Testament, God asked that we, “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Lev. 19:18).  However, Jesus has certainly stepped up the game, so to speak, to move us from loving someone else as much as we love ourselves to loving the other the way Jesus loves.  He is inviting us into a sacrificial love; one that always seeks the good of the other despite the cost to us. 

In reflecting on this statement of Jesus’, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “It is impossible to keep the Lord’s commandment by imitating the divine model from outside; there has to be a vital participation, coming from the depths of the heart, in the holiness and the mercy and the love of our God. Only the Spirit by whom we live can make “ours” the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. ” (2842)  In other words, we can’t keep this commandment by ourselves, by “watching” Jesus and then by our own efforts attempting to imitate him.  We can only love in this way by loving others from inside the heart of Jesus, by being incorporated into His life and love, and living and loving through and with Him. 

How can we do this?  In the second reading (Rev. 21:1-5), we have the image of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.  The new heavens and the new earth, the Holy City are not something we create or can bring about.  They come to us from heaven, gifts from the hand of a loving God.  Gifts can only be received or refused.  As St. James reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)  God gives and we receive and in doing so, we begin to live more and more within him.  “In him we live and move and  have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  

It is important to note that even as we are more and more incorporated into His love and life, we do not cease to be ourselves.  We need not fear that in striving to be receptive and receive this love from God, that it will cost us the loss of our independence or our uniqueness. For the One sitting on the throne says, “Behold I make all things new.”  God is not making new things, but making all things new.  This is a work of renovation and the result of the work will be that we will be made whole, we will become as Matthew Kelly often says, “the best version of ourselves.”   

Allowing our work to be God’s work, opening ourselves up to be more and more receptive to His love and His grace not only allows us to participate in the renewing of the world but we become fully alive and fully ourselves in the process.  Who wouldn’t want that?!  

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CHANCERY OFFICE

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Experiencing the Story

Experiencing the Story

“Not having any righteousness of my own… but that which comes through faith in Christ… depending on faith to know
him and the power of His resurrection.”


Phil 3: 9-10

I have been thinking this week about the biblical understanding of “knowing”. The quote above comes from the 2nd reading of the 5th Sunday of Lent and a commentator on the reading reminded me that in the Scripture the word “know” typically does not mean simply knowledge of a person or idea. Rather it implies an intimacy, a deep knowledge; a very close relationship with. In today’s terms we might say it doesn’t mean to know about, but to know.

For the past week I have had the privilege of caring for my 3-year old grandson. His parents came from Minnesota a week and a half ago to see my youngest son perform in St. Thomas More’s Spring Musical and to celebrate with him his last production (he graduates in May!). They went home the following Monday and we offered to keep Tomás for a few days until my husband traveled to Minnesota on Thursday. The unexpected snowstorm has delayed that trip and we have found ourselves with almost an extra week with a lively little 3-year old. I am a mother of five so I spent a lot of years with toddlers in my house and so it is fair to say that I know what it is like to care for them. But this week, I have realized that remembering the joys and challenges is not the same as living through them and I think it is fair to say my memory could be likened to knowing about and my past week could be described as biblical knowing! In reality, how soon we forget.

The same could be said for the remembering we do each year as we enter into the holiest time in the Liturgical Calendar, the Triduum. The desire of Jesus is that we would truly enter into the experience of His passion, death and resurrection in these next three days. All of us know the story. But do we know it? Do we take the time and make the effort to truly enter into the drama and experience it alongside our Lord and Savior rather than just passively sitting by and half listening to a story about a guy we only know about? I feel challenged to enter into the story more deeply; to allow it to soak deeply into my heart; to be more receptive to the transforming grace of our redemption made truly and really present every time the Mass is celebrated.

I wish you all a holy Triduum and Easter! The Alleluias are just around the corner!

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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

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VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

Mission is King

Mission is King

Recently I have been reading Matthew Kelly’s latest book, “The Culture Solution.”  It is his first secular book in many years and is written primarily for those working in corporations who desire to create a positive work culture.  However, I have been thinking about the principles set forth in the book from the perspective of our Stewardship initiative and the emphasis placed in the Foundational pillar of having a mission and vision statement and a pastoral plan for the parish. 

 Some parishioners have had the courage to honestly share with me that they have seen mission statements come and go over the years; that “we spend a lot of time developing them and then nothing is ever done with them.”  I whole-heartedly agree.  Many times, efforts are made to develop mission and vision statements, develop plans that are never used and soon forgotten, both inside the church and outside it.

However, it does not immediately follow that we should throw the whole idea out.  I am reminded of Chesterton’s often repeated quote,

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” 

I think the same argument can be made for strategic planning, from which typically flow mission statements, visions and plans complete with goals.  It’s not that they are inherently without value, it is that using them well is difficult and so very often they are “left untried”.

Instead of abandoning the idea of developing a mission, vision and pastoral plan completely, I would suggest we look at the challenges inherent in using them and work to remedy those challenges.  Why?  In Matthew Kelly’s words, “mission is king.” 

“Every organization needs an unchanging point of reference.  This becomes the organization’s North Star, building confidence on nights when the skies are clear, and pointing the way on stormy nights even if only with glimpses.” 

When speaking of corporations and non-profits, there might be a need to find this “north star”, but in the Church we already have our “North Star”:  it is Jesus Himself.  He is the reason for all that we do. 

Even so, we fall into many pitfalls when we leave our “North Star” that vague, when we don’t take the time to prayerfully discern what aspect of Jesus’ mission He is calling us to participate in in this time and in this place.  One such pitfall becomes clear to me in light of the Gospel story in Matthew chapter 16:13-23.  Just after Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Jesus begins to share with them that he was going to suffer, die and be raised.  “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”  Jesus then strongly scolds him saying, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

In my own life, I have many times been Peter.  I come to an understanding of some aspect of who Jesus is and what He desires from us and I take this truth and run with it.  Oftentimes, I am so busy on this “mission” that I fail to notice I have run right past Jesus, whom I am supposedly following.  Like Peter, I am in need of a rebuke – a reminder that I need to “get behind me.” 

The reality is, whenever we vow to follow Jesus, we rarely have a sense of the whole plan from his perspective.  As Henri Nouwen says,

“He gives us enough light for the next step and the rest is faith.” 

The only way we can be sure that we will continue to make the next right step, is if we are constantly begging the Lord for direction.  The human tendency is to begin a work for the Lord and then very quickly let it become “our” work, “our” ministry.  We take ownership, we get comfortable, we know best, we want to continue doing what we have always done and we often get off track.  We no longer have our eyes on the North Star (Jesus); we are doing our own navigation. 

If we truly want His Mission to be King and to remain King, then we need to prayerfully develop a mission, vision and pastoral plan for our parish that is rooted in prayer and discernment.  Then we need to avoid the pitfalls of not following through on the direction this plan is leading us by setting up systems which promote, reward and encourage the fulfillment of the plan.  Most importantly, our systems and structures need to root our churches in prayer and give us a concrete, planned way to return regularly to the True Navigator and beg for direction for the next step. 

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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

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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

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VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

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The Sacrifice of Being Welcoming

The Sacrifice of Being Welcoming

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  The Gospel reading recounts Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan.  After Jesus comes up out of the water, heaven was opened and a voice came from heaven announcing, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  (cf. Luke 3:21-22)  Notice that God the Father did not say, “you are my ONLY beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

 The truth is that, we are all beloved children of God and despite our imperfections, He is well pleased with us.  And although, we might in some sense know that is true, I think that much of the time we don’t really believe it.  When Bishop Gruss first came to our Diocese, he often shared how he had been told his whole life, “Jesus loves you” but that he didn’t really know what that meant.  It wasn’t until he was struggling as an adult that he began praying every day, “Jesus, if you are real and you do love me, show me that love in a real and concrete way today.”  He says that prayer changed his life.  In fact, that prayer is the reason we have him as our Shepherd in the Diocese of Rapid City.  Bishop Gruss knew that Jesus loved him; he hadn’t experienced that love.

 Bishop Gruss’ example teaches us about the importance of prayer.  He did not experience the love of God in his own life until he began praying in a very deliberate, consistent and intentional way.  Prayer is essential.  That is why it is a central element in our Stewardship initiative under the pillar of Lively Faith. 

 This experience of God’s love comes directly to us from Him in prayer.  However, it comes to us through the actions of others as well.  Many years ago, I read a book by Dr. Ross Campbell called, “How to Really Love Your Child.”  As a psychiatrist, he had worked with hundreds of families who were struggling.  He said that he had never met a parent who said they didn’t love their child, but that he had worked with hundreds of kids who didn’t think their parents loved them.  Clearly, there was a disconnect — parents who loved their children but weren’t able to convey that love in a way the child received it. 

I am convinced this doesn’t just happen in the parent-child relationship.  It happens in other relationships in our lives and it happens to us as church communities, when we desire to share the Love of Christ with others but that message is not given in a way that others receive or experience the tender love of Jesus.  I believe the Holy Spirit has given us the gift of our stewardship initiative to assist us in bridging this gap. 

The pillar of Generous Hospitality and the concrete examples of how this is done in the characteristics, as well as the witness of so many inside and outside of our Diocese of how hospitality is lived out in concrete, real actions provides us with real and practical help in this area. 

I continue to be challenged to grow in my own hospitality.  I recently read the beautiful new apostolic exhortation by Bishop Olmsted on the family (http://www.catholicsun.org/2018/12/30/complete-my-joy-in-major-new-document-bishop-olmsted-urges-fathers-mothers-to-commit-their-families-to-a-deeper-relationship-with-christ/).  In it, he shares this quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta:

“And so less and less we are in touch with each other.  The world is lost for want of sweetness and kindness.  People are starving for love because everybody is in such a great rush.”

 

 

Generous Hospitality requires an attentiveness to the other.  One of the biggest obstacles in my own life to this attentiveness is my tendency to rush through the day.  Slowing down requires a sacrifice on my part; to sacrifice my time and attention and give it to another.  It also requires a certain sensitivity to how others are experiencing life. 

This was brought to my attention yesterday when I witnessed a friend reach out to a visitor from Colombia.  He offered to take our visitor fishing or hunting and I think his offer came from a genuine desire to make this man feel welcome here and a willingness to sacrifice time to give that gift.  I thought to myself, it is pretty easy to wish this man Buenos Días and go on with my day.  Both my friend’s example and Mother Teresa are challenging me to a greater hospitality. 

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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