Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - October 19

Dear Parishioners:

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.  This is the central advice Jesus offers us in regard to discernment of how we spend our resources and how we respond to the world around us.  As the Gospel account of today’s Mass shows, this world places demands on us as it supplies the coin by which we pay the taxes that are due.  So, too, God reveals to us that He wants back from us what He has given.  He wants us to return to Him the gift we have received.

At the present moment, once again, the teachings of our Catholic Faith are held up for scrutiny and often ridicule.  How do you respond to this?  We are entrusted with the Truth.  Our Church has endured and held fast to the Truth across two millennia.  The martyrs of every age have given their lives in witness to the Truth.  Even in our day, there are men and women and children who sacrifice their lives because they refuse to deny Jesus, Who IS the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In this time of testing, I invite you and your family to hold fast to a witness of the Faith.  Although you may have to endure ridicule for your fidelity, know that the prize is greater than this suffering.  God is worth your life.  The Church is teaching the Truth, often a Truth that is unpopular, but that remains true nonetheless.  Don’t be fooled by the media.  The Church has one purpose in the world: to witness to the Truth.  Those who hear the voice of Jesus seek the Truth.

The Synod in Rome is a gathering of representatives from the whole world.  This Synod is not re-defining our Faith.  Its purpose is to work together with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to find a way to speak the Message of the Gospel to families in order to lift them up.  The results of this year’s gathering will set the agenda for another Synod that will meet next year.  It will also likely help to shape the content of the Gathering of Families that will take place next year in Philadelphia.  In the meantime, it invites all of us to hear the Gospel and to put it into practice with the family in mind.  How is your family creating a culture of Faith?  Have you begun to listen to the voice of the Shepherd?  How do you spend your resources?  Do you give to God what is God’s?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - October 12

Dear Parishioners:

Your prayers are requested for the Church universal as the Synod on the Family is underway in Rome at this time.  This is the first part of a two-year process that will continue with a similar gathering next year.  If all goes according to plan, Pope Francis will participate in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in 2015.  In the year ahead, we will be hearing more about this.

All of us belong to families in one form or another.  We are the products of the family that gave us life and raised us to adulthood – our family of origin.  Many are also a part of a family by choice – through marriage or by way of a commitment to a particular group of people.  Religious commitments and promises are the means by which such families come into being.  God Himself, Who IS a Family as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, draws us into His Family through the life we share in the Sacraments.  The Holy Family of Nazareth reveals the importance God gives to family life in the very manner by which the Son of God lived it, sharing the joys and sorrows of Mary and Joseph and being part of the clan of David the King.

At St. Timothy Parish, we are seeking to be formed as a family, united in mind and heart, with Jesus, our Good Shepherd.  A call is going out for us to deepen our welcome of one another and of those who come to worship with us.  We are also hearing the invitation to participate intentionally in the New Evangelization by sharing our Faith in Jesus Christ with those around us.  There is a hunger for belonging and for depth that only God can satisfy.

How do you experience Faith in your own family?  Does it have a priority for every member?  Parents are particularly responsible for setting an example that teaches their children in the ways of Faith.  Have you taken seriously this responsibility?

Fr. Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., used to say “The family that prays together stays together.”  In this month of the Rosary, I invite you to consider praying a family rosary or to find some other form of prayer that involves your whole family.  Ask your children to pray for you the prayers they are learning in School or in PSR.  Teach them the prayers you learned to pray as a child.  Pick a prayer that you call your “family prayer” or compose one of your own creation.  Welcome Jesus into your family home in a very practical way.  Find some way to unite your family with the Heart of Jesus.  Whatever you may do, entrust your family to God and stay close to His Church as a family.  You won’t regret it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - October 5

Dear Parishioners:

Respect for Life is a major theme in the month of October.  The responsibility that falls to us is to help the wider culture that often cheapens life to come to understand the infinite value and worth of each unique human person.  We are called to create a new culture of Life.  We are invited to acknowledge the clear teaching of our Catholic Faith that each human being is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God from the first moment of conception until the last breath, when God chooses to take that person back to Himself.

Many in our world see this as a merely a matter of religious opinion and preference.  The centrality of the dignity of the human person is considered something optional.  The irony is that every “cause” that is supported even by the secular culture finds its strongest argument in the question of dignity.  Think of the ideas that are considered common understanding and agreement in popular culture.  Which of them does not flow from an awareness of the dignity and worth of at least some persons?

“My rights” flow from the act of considering myself as having value and worth.  “Injustice” of every kind is acknowledged when certain persons or classes of persons are discriminated against by others or by structures in society that demean them. Calls for change and for reform flow from a recognition that it is in our power to renew a system of values.  When we look toward creating a “culture of life,” we are confronting this reality at its most fundamental level.

In the face of the world, we are an enigma because we see things differently.  Our starting point is not ourselves, nor our own practical needs, but the Wisdom of God Who sees us as He created us to be – free persons with dignity and worth that He Himself has given us.  May our eyes and the eyes of all around us come to see the glory of God in the human person and may we work to live in awareness of God’s intent for our world.

October is also the Month of the Rosary.  Remember that the Rosary is prayed every weekday before Mass by the St. Monica Prayer Group.  The Knights of Columbus lead a Rosary once a month before the 10 a.m. Mass.  Our School children pray a decade of the Rosary after the Wednesday morning School Mass.  First Saturday Mass takes place at 8:30 a.m. and a Rosary follows.  Perhaps your family can begin to pray a Family Rosary once a week or each day of the month of October, having the children take turns in leading.  At the very least, reflect this month on the Mysteries of the Rosary and how they connect with the life of your family – the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, and the Mysteries of Light (the Luminous Mysteries) suggested by Saint Pope John Paul II.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - September 28

Dear Parishioners:

Our children are the hope of the future.  They are entrusted to us for a time, but they grow up and then their children become their hope.  In times past, the whole community was aware of this and cooperated in direct and sometimes more subtle ways to ensure that truth and values were communicated in a clear way to our children.  That system is gone.

Now, our children are exposed to many different visions of the world.  As a Parish, through our School and through our Parish School of Religion (PSR), we strive to teach our children the values of our Faith and to initiate them into a practice of the Faith that helps to keep them in touch with the deeper values we have received as our inheritance.

The problem we have now is that Faith is often treated as something optional.  Practice of religion is seen as something merely private and personal.  Quite the opposite is true.  We need to put our Faith into practice so that we can continue to be in touch with the resources that a living relationship with God offers us and so that we can witness to the prior right of God in our lives.  Practice of our religion and the effort to meet the obligations we have ought to be a priority.

Many of our children are receiving an ambiguous witness concerning Faith.  If they are sent to a Catholic School or enrolled in PSR or involved in Youth Group, then they have some resources at their disposal that their peers may not have.  That is good.  However, if there is not a consistent family practice of the Faith, those advantages may disappear. Parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of Faith.  In the Rite of Baptism, we pray that they may be the best of teachers, living and acting in such a way as to share Faith with their children.

How are you doing as a family?  Is every member of your family worshiping God on Sunday?  Catholics do this through the weekly celebration of Sunday Mass.  This is not an optional part of practice of the Faith.  It is essential.  If families send their children to learn about the Faith but fail to attend Mass each weekend, they cause confusion.

In October, we do a count of all who are present at Mass.  You are invited to be counted among those present each week.

Our efforts to promote the New Evangelization also continue this year.  Seminarians from the Pontifical College Josephinum and some of our own parishioners are planning a neighborhood visit Sunday, October 5th.  Are you ready to share your Faith?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - September 21

Dear Parishioners:

St. Timothy Parish is, as parishes go in the Diocese of Columbus, a medium-sized parish.  Having a School, we are also a parish that has so far managed to carry forward the vision for Catholic Education that was present in the first generation of Catholics in our nation, in the person of our first Bishop John Carroll and our first native-born American Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  We are once again at a time of creating a vision that will help to sustain us into the future.

We worship together in a church built by our first members and renewed when necessary along the way.  We teach our children and offer them an opportunity for recreation and social activities through a Parish Center and Gym that began as a dream and was accomplished by cooperation among many.  Can you see that the Good Shepherd Who brought us to this point continues to have plans for us as a Parish and a School? 

The Church in our time is being called to take seriously the task of Evangelization through witness of life and a conscious effort to catechize those who have never heard the Gospel and to be renewed by a deepening of catechetical instruction for those who have lived it but have lost the zeal of their first response.  Through welcome, invitation and witness, we prove we are disciples of the Lord by spreading the Gospel in the world today.

Catechetical Sunday reminds us to show our gratitude to those who dedicate their time and energy to catechize in the name of our Parish: teachers in our School and PSR program, the RCIA Team, and the coordinators of the various programs of Adult Education in the ways of Faith.  Parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of Faith.  All of us need to continue to study and learn what Faith teaches and to follow the wisdom we receive.

All families are invited to renew a commitment to catechesis of their children and a faithful witness of practice of the Faith.  How are you responding to the Spirit’s call to go deeper?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - September 14 Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Dear Parishioners:

A principle for effecting change in our world these days that you may have heard is “Think globally, act locally.”  This idea suggests that the way to change the world is to start within ourselves and close at hand.  We have to learn to see things from a broader perspective even as we work within our own sphere of influence.  This idea puts into our hands the simple truth that each one of us always has the power to make a difference.

The Baltimore Catechism that taught many how to express the Catholic Faith in succinct ways gives some answers that remind us to keep the broadest possible vision in view:

Q. Who made you?

A. God made me.

Q. Why did God make you?

A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world,
and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

With these questions and answers at the beginning of the Catechism, the Church places before us the realization that we belong to God and that God has a plan for us.  That offers us a perspective as broad as you can get – from the point of view of God Himself.  When we start there, everything else is put into proper perspective.

Why does the Church encourage some sorts of behavior, such a fidelity, honesty and integrity?  Because it expresses who God creates us to be.

Why does the Church say “no” to some behaviors and activities that the world applauds or invites us to do?  Because they are not in accord with God’s plan for us or with His reason for the realities involved.

One way to change the world, and to cooperate with God’s efforts to prepare us for life with Him in the next, is to accept the disciplines of the Church so as to learn and develop the virtues that free us to live for God.  We all have “family rules.”  The Church is a family that has its rules.  We may complain about the rules and wish they were different than they are.  But if we follow them, we will discover that we reach our true goal more quickly.

As the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross reveals to us, Christ Himself became obedient, even to death on the Cross.  For this very reason, He was highly exalted and became the Redeemer of the world.  By loving in the face of rejection and suffering, He lifted us up to a capacity for Life with God.

When we work to shape our thoughts with the mind of Christ and His Church, we open ourselves to a new way of living.  By living now in accord with the Love revealed through the Cross of Christ, we become sharers in divine life and bring Hope to the world.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Word from Your Pastor - September 7

Dear Parishioners:

We have experienced a number of deaths in our parish family lately.  Some long-time and active parishioners have been called Home and many families in our parish have lost close family members elsewhere.  Our Bereavement Ministry and Resurrection Choir have been working overtime.  We are very blessed to have such a compassionate community to be present to those who experience the loss of loved ones.

It seems an appropriate time to offer a few notes that may be helpful to all of us as we look toward planning for the day we will come to the end of this life’s journey.  I have personally been edified by the preparations offered by those who have died that have made the experience - not quite easier - but simpler for those left behind.

At the moment someone you love dies, it is hard to think, so often families are not sure just what to do.  Having a list of who should be contacted is helpful.  Please be sure to list the St. Timothy Parish Office (451-2671) among those who are notified.  In fact, if you or someone you love is ill, let us know early in the process. 

The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion, at home or elsewhere, are very consoling to those who are ill and to their families.  “Last Rites” include Confession and Absolution (with the Apostolic Pardon), Anointing, and Holy Communion as Viaticum.”  Since we know not the day nor the hour, we ought not to miss the opportunity for the touch of Sacramental Grace.  The sooner we know, the sooner we can assist the family as well.

Planning for the Funeral Services include a few details:  What Funeral Home will you use?  It is best to choose one that is very familiar with the Catholic funeral rites.  The Catholic Funeral includes three sites:  A Prayer Vigil at the Funeral Home, Mass at a Catholic Church, and the Rite of Committal at the Cemetery.  The preference is to have the body (which served as a temple for the Holy Spirit) present for the time of visitation and for the Funeral Mass.  If cremation takes place, then the cremains are kept intact and a Rite of Committal can take place later.  If cremation takes place before the Funeral Mass, then the cremains may be present at the Mass and Committal follows.  It is considered disrespectful to “sprinkle the ashes” of a human being in various locations or to divide them.  Our own human nature needs to have a place to “visit” where the loved one’s earthly remains are to be found.  Interment in a cemetery or columbarium is the Catholic practice.

On the day of the Funeral, our parish offers the option of a Bereavement Meal following the Funeral and the Service at the Cemetery.  The team need to know an approximate number of attendees expected.

In recent times, families have been grateful that their loved ones picked out Readings and songs for the funeral beforehand.  A booklet for this and a guide to the songs that may be chosen are available in the Parish Office.

Sometimes there are things you wish you could say to loved ones that they are not able to hear due to life’s complexities.  A letter left with your funeral preferences and plans can be very consoling.  Write a letter to those left behind and let them know that you have thought about them experiencing this moment of grief.  It will help more than you can imagine.

The Bereavement Committee tries to keep track of loved ones who have died through the course of a year in order to remember them on All Souls’ Day each year.  If you lose a family member, even if the funeral is held elsewhere, please let us know so that person’s name can be in the list for the All Souls’ Mass of Remembrance.  This year we will have that celebration at the Noon Mass Sunday, November 2nd.

To all families who have lost loved one, we offer our sincerest condolences.  We recall that for those who have Faith, death is not the final word.  Life is changed, not ended.  We will meet again in the Kingdom. 

Eternal Rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.