Practicing Gratitude

When I lived in Kenya, there came a day in the slum when I beheld a Chevy pickup truck heading my way. Now pickup trucks were not uncommon, at least not if they were a Toyota. But a Chevy…well, I had to wave the driver down and inquire about the origins of such an American icon on the unpaved roads of Kibera. Turns out the driver was a pastor of a missionary Baptist church in the Nairobi area – good ol’ boy from Tennessee. Now the pickup truck made perfect sense. Continue reading

Remembering the Roots of Thanksgiving

I am grateful for a day in which we, as a people, pause to give thanks. And who do we have to thank for this holiday? Your answer is likely “The Pilgrims.” You would not be wrong, but then not completely correct, either. Certainly, Thanksgiving and the religious response of giving thanks to God is as old as time. When one considers enduring cultures, one always finds men and women working out their relationship to God. There is almost always a fourfold purpose to our acts of worship: adoration, petition, atonement, thanksgiving. Such worship is part and parcel of life. And yet, there is still a very human need to specially celebrate and offer thanksgiving on key occasions and anniversaries. Since medieval times, we have very detailed records of celebrations marking the end of an epidemic, liberation from sure and certain doom, the signing of a peace treaty, and more. Continue reading

Ecclesial Anatomy

This weekend in prayer, I ran across this small quote from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Let us profess the truth in love and grow to the full maturity of Christ the head. Through him the whole body grows, and with the proper functioning of the members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament, builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

This is not the only place where St. Paul discusses Christ as the “Head” and the church/believers as “the body”. For example see Col 1:18 and compare with 1 Cor 12:12–27 and Romans 12:4–5 where Christ is identified with the whole body, including the head. (The full scriptural quotes are provided below for your consideration) Continue reading

Momentum

In today’s Mass readings we encounter the well-known story of Zacchaeus the tax collector who was curious to see Jesus, this wonder worker about whom he had heard so much. It is a much different encounter of the blind man in yesterday’s gospel. Both are example of the laws of momentum, but on a spiritual plain.

The first law of momentum states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. The blind man used his inner desire, the movement of the Spirit, the presence of Jesus – we are not told specifically – to ask Jesus for his sight. Acted upon by the greater force of God’s power and love, the course of that man’s life changed.
Continue reading

Contagious Gratitude

GratitudeI don’t remember – it has been so long now – but somewhere, sometime ago, I began to start emails, letters, cards and the like with the same phrase: “May the grace and peace of Christ be with you.” It is an expression that begins many of St. Paul’s letters, in one form or another, e.g., Galatians 1:3. It is not a scripted beginning; there is a great deal of intention about it. There are times when I am in a hurry, responding to emails, that I am reminded at the end to return to the beginning and insert the greeting. It often leads to editing of the email if there is some part that does not have grace or peace about it. Continue reading

Practice, practice, practice

GratitudeI am often given to repeating St. Bonaventure’s wise counsel: humility is the guardian and gateway to all the other virtues…and the first evidence of it is gratitude. We can all have moments in which we are profoundly grateful, but are we grateful people? The first is a description of a moment in time, deeply remembered; the second is an intrinsic condition of who you are as a person. It is at the root of your being, it is the lens through which you see the world, and it is the mode by which you engage the world. Even as I write that last sentence, I am thinking, “Gosh, I want to be that person!” Continue reading

Making Your Plans

Stewardship: “The start of Sacred Heart being a Stewardship Parish is for each one of us to be good Stewards in our own lives.” The movement towards stewardship as a community began in earnest a year ago, after listening sessions with parishioners. As a result, we announced “Vision: True North”, a vision by which we continue to live our gospel-centered mission, even as we build our future. A vision that continues our center of worship in our downtown church but provides us the ability to seek space and opportunity that will serve us during the new wave of growth in the downtown core and nearby neighborhoods; a growth we are already experiencing. This vision set our sights on fully engaging the North Campus, a 9.8-acre facility we already own and operate, as our designated Center of Ministry and Family Life. Continue reading

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Today marks the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, both apostles and early missionaries of the Church. Of the two, St. Jude, the patron of lost causes, the namesake of a notable children’s hospital, is the better known of the two. Jude, also known as Judas Thaddaeus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, the brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus prior to his crucifixion. Catholic writer Michal Hunt suggests that Judas Thaddaeus became known as Jude after early translators of the New Testament from Greek into English sought to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and subsequently abbreviated his forename. Most versions of the New Testament in languages other than English and French refer to Judas and Jude by the same name. Continue reading

Parish Life – annual reporting

Back in the day when I was a parishioner at a small country parish in Northern Virginia, once a year the chairperson of the parish council would speak during the Masses about parish finances. There were several handouts about assets, cash flow, expenses and revenues. All true and necessary things. Even though a parish is meant to be a center of worship, ministry, faith, and life – there are still budgets to make, bills to pay and plans to make. Continue reading