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.

 

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CHANCERY OFFICE

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Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

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Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

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Rapid City , SD 57702
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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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Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

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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

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.

 

11 + 1 =

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

Love Saves Lives

Today (Wednesday), 38 people from the diocese, both youth and adults, are heading to our national capital in Washington, DC for the 45th Annual March for Life. We are heading to experience this great event because invitation and perseverance does pay off. The first lens of our stewardship initiative is generous hospitality, which is rooted in being people of invitation. In the past, I have heard different priests, lay ministers and chancery staff express a desire to send a bus of young people and adult leaders to the March for Life. For a while it seemed just talk. Two years ago, the talk grew into an invitation that was sent out to all the parishes. There were a few takers willing to make the trip to March for Life, however not enough to fill the minimum quota. Last year, still not enough to fill our own bus and so 10 of us joined up with the Diocese of Sioux Falls and traveled with them.  Today, we have our own busload.  This speaks to the power of an invitation and learning to persevere in the invitation. As intentional disciples who joyfully, boldly and lovingly proclaim the mission of Jesus Christ, we must never tire of extending an invitation to others to follow Jesus more deeply in their lives and we must not be easily discouraged, but be patient and persevere.

This year’s theme for the March is, “Love Saves Lives.” The call to promote a culture of life and not death is central to who we are as disciples of Christ. In Evangelium Vitae — The Gospel of Life, St. John Paul II said “. . . we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’. We find ourselves not only faced with, but necessarily in the midst of, this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.”

In Through Him, With him and In Him: A Spiritual Guide to the Diocesan Priority Plan, Bishop Gruss, says: “if we are not currently living these values, meaning they are not part of our lives in very practical ways, we need to beseech the Lord’s grace daily, asking him to open our lukewarm hearts and teach us how to bring them into our lives. If we do not put these values into practice, then our light will not shine before others, so that others may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

As we head today to Washington DC, to March for Life, I am full of hope and joy that one day we all would truly become disciples of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life, in every aspect of what it means to be human, made in God’s image and likeness.  Pray for us as we put into practice in a very visible and tangible way our commitment to life, letting our light shine before others and giving witness and testimony to the power of an invitation to live and be Christ to others in our world.

Finding Stewardship in the Virtues

I have had an amazing and at the same time a very tiring week, as training for Duc in Altum – put out into the deep (Luke 5:1-11), ended today.   Duc in Altum is a Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through catechesis, evangelization, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship. The program is run through the Office of Vocations. The goal of Duc in Altum is to help young people develop their relationship with Jesus Christ so that there is an intimate friendship whereby he may lead them to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. To accomplish this, we emphasize a devotion and love for the Lord in the Eucharist and for Mary our Mother.

                When I was in the parish, Duc in Altum was part of our summer program and I know our children, young people, families and parish community enjoyed getting to know our young college students and seminarians. To see the excitement and joy of the team members as they proclaimed the Lord Jesus Christ was a great sight to behold. However, after being through a week of training with these young college students and seminarians, I am even more impressed and inspired with their desire to live a life of Christ.

                As we went through training there were numerous times when stewardship, this generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship was made visible to me in new ways. One example would be on Monday we were reflecting on the theological virtue of charity in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Charity is a theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822). In the margin of my catechism I wrote, “stewardship: dedicated discipleship, love God, love neighbor with an intentional heart.”

                Further the section reads, “The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself” (CCC 1825). Again, I found myself writing in the margin of my catechism “stewardship: welcoming the stranger, PMD 2015.” I am not sure if you are excited as I am about my margin notes on stewardship, however for me stewardship this past week leapt off the pages as we reflected and shared with one another about the virtues and the beatitudes, the curriculum for Duc in Altum this summer.

                My challenge for us is to open ourselves up to this incredible gift of stewardship: to receive, to nurture, to share and return to the Lord what we have received from him. In turn that we might become more attentive to seeing in our daily lives hospitality, faith, and discipleship in action.  What I am beginning to learn is that stewardship is truly a way of life. My prayer for you this week is that stewardship: generous hospitality, lively faith and dedicated discipleship would leap off the pages of your lives.

                I would also like to ask a favor of all of you this summer if you would keep our two Duc in Altum teams in your prayers as they travel and traverse our diocese as young missionaries proclaiming the beauty and richness of our Catholic faith. Please pray for these young missionaries who have such a profound zeal for the Gospel: Andrew Sullivan (seminarian), Madeline Schueller, Ryder Carlson (seminarian), Audree Blankartz, Patrick Yantes, Marianne Hofer, Robert Kinyon, (seminarian) and Jordon Miller.