Stewardship Weeks a Success!
Thanks to parishioners who jumped in with both feet by participating in stewardship weeks!! Thanks to so many good stewards already generously active with their Time, Talent and Treasure, who completed stewardship cards as a kind of report card. Special thanks to those who completed stewardship cards upping their game of generosity for Time, Talent and Treasure. Such participation will make a good parish great!! Stewardship cards are by church doors for those who might have missed one! See also the good news of our yearly finance report, also at church doors.
Over the next weeks, Parish Engagement Coordinator, Debbie Field, will begin to assemble metrics for the card, which, wonderfully, are significantly higher than in past years! Staff members have already made so many first contacts with parishioners who completed cards!
A change in vocabulary or a name is significant. For example, when the God the Father changed Abram’s name to Abraham, or when Saul became known as Paul. Those name changes pointed to a radical change or conversion for those individuals: Abraham from polytheist to a believer in the one true God and Saul from persecutor to a best disciple of the Lord Jesus.
Additionally, continued use of those names allowed them to continue to become the “something new” those names signified. In other words, there is an “already” changed and a “not yet” fully changed quality to name changes and new vocabulary.
At this past week’s staff meeting related to Beacons of Light, I asked staff members to consider the vocabulary we use. Now that we will be a family of parishes, our prayer and practice will need to change. The words we use will not only signify a mindset change, but also help to bring about Beacons of Light.
For example, from this time forward, we will notice that we will not be referring so much to “Incarnation Church,” or “the people of Incarnation” in the Sunday Mass Petitions. Rather, we will be saying “our parishes.” So, be sure to notice when we hear the words “our parishes” and pray that we will embrace the conversion Beacons of Light is calling us to! As an aside, attentive parishioners will note that in last weeks’ petitions we prayed for “…the parish or parishes with which we will be united as a family of parishes.” We have already started to embrace our “sister parishes” in mind, heart and prayer!
As Beacons of Light will be calling for radical conversion in our understanding and practice of parish life, so too, most every dimension of parish life will be touched, including parish ministries. This means that if other parishes in our family have schools, it is likely that we will be referring to “our schools,” working toward one school. It is doubtful that a consolidated school will have the name of any one parish school from which it came. The new name signifying and bringing about conversion and change. Stay tuned for more details!
Masking, an Ascetic Exercise
Since Father Ignatius is on vacation for several weeks, I have been more careful masking than usual, knowing that this would be a particularly bad time to contract COVID.
As I do that, I am trying to see masking a spiritual discipline, an ascetic practice, to grow my faith. Recall, last week I asked parishioners to google some time-tested ascetic practices. Ascetic practices allow Christians to undergo some sacrifice or bodily suffering to remind us of Jesus and to unite us to him spiritually.
Time tested ascetic practices such as fasting or abstaining from types of food are spiritual disciplines that help Christians remind themselves that Jesus is our source of life and joy. When we are hungry, the void in our stomach reminds us that nothing but Jesus will fill the most important voids of our life, voids of mind, heart and spirit. In addition, fasting and abstinence can even double to benefit others and the poor. For example, fasting from food allows a person to give food-money to the poor.
More extreme ascetic practices include wearing hair shirts, whipping ones-self with leather thongs or being a hermit for a time. Look up Saint Simeon Stylites, who lived on top of a 50 foot pole on an 11 foot platform for many years! These are more extreme ascetic practices which border on being crazy and at the same time are, in a way, admirable for their extreme sacrifice and love for the Lord Jesus!
I challenge parishioners to mask as a spiritual discipline. As such, masking images Jesus saving acts: he gave up all of his freedom and liberty to save us from sin and death. He was in physical pain and nailed to the cross even giving up the freedom to do something simple like scratching his nose! Those who mask choose to give a just a bit of their liberty for the spiritual discipline of becoming like Jesus. Additionally, they may in fact save others from sickness and protect their own body, which is a temple of the Lord. Therefore, even if you don’t believe what science says about masking, do it as a simple ascetical practice for Jesus! The spiritual benefit is guaranteed!
Sincerely and with Love in Christ,