Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mourners ~ Thinking about Prayer

We are fortunate in the Bay Area to have a treasure trove of Christian art dating back to the Middle Ages at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.  Right now, in addition to the usual stellar collection, a visiting exhibit called, “The Mourners:  Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy” gives us a chance to think more deeply about what it means to “pray for All Souls,” as we have been invited to do at Mass during this month of November, and to discover what a few sculptures might teach us about prayer.

The 37 devotional figures in the exhibit, created in the 14th & 15th centuries from alabaster to adorn the tombs of Philip the Bold and his son John the Fearless, are all unique in their emotional impact and in their postures of prayer.  The figures range from choir boy to bishop.  Some carry rosaries or prayer books; some look heavenward, while others gaze downward.  Several are weeping.  Cowls cover the faces of many, either partially or completely, though most faces are visible if you stoop to peer underneath.  For Philip the Bold, the commissioning of his own tomb was intended as a form of personal prayer in which the statues are “designed to perform for all eternity the vigil for the dead, offering up prayers for the salvation of the deceased.”  More importantly, they remind us, as Jesus said, to “pray always” (Luke 18:1), and they suggest that our prayers and prayer stances can be as varied as the needs we bring before God.

Visit the Legion of Honor’s interactive 3-D site, which allows 360° access to these remarkable pieces of art:  The exhibition continues until December 31st.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Advent Celebration!

Thanks to all of the 200+ Mount Carmel youth and adults who participated in our first ever Family Advent Celebration!

 Check out the photos of beautiful wreaths and smiling faces from last night!

(Also, try out this Advent Wreath Blessing for your wreath at home!) 
Pictures above are of...
-Advent wreath making
-Building an Advent Calendar
-Parish Jesse Tree with timeline of Salvation History
-Giving Tree to support two Marin Tutoring Centers
-Christmas Cards to elderly parishioners
-Hot Chocolate and Star cookie frosting
-Giving a gift (of ourselves) to Jesus this Advent
-Advent games and coloring sheets

New Words (Re)new Meaning (1)

The Mass is meant to transform us every time we participate.  It is an intimate encounter with the God who loved us into existence.  We experience him in each other and the Eucharist we share.  The language for this encounter is not like the language of a novel, the newspaper, or television.  It is a language that tries to connect us through Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church across time and beyond a single place.  It has a vocabulary that would not translate outside of its context: spirit, love, death and resurrection, salvation, redemption, consubstantial, incarnate, Lamb of God.  And it has the capacity to reveal the beauty of the eternal love of God to a people who, whether they know it or not, need that love for life. 

We are the people who know, and we gather in a faith that can help us make sense out of this language, to help us make sense out of our lives.  We gather to enter into the dialogue, to participate in that interaction that transforms, and to open ourselves to God’s action in our lives.  The new language of the Missal can help us to break old patterns of rote response so that we can enter more deeply into the prayer that is transforming.

(Information in this post was compiled by Fr. Pat, Jonathan, and Suzanne.)

An Advent Meditation

Stay with me. Remain here with me. Watch and Pray.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

This is What a Drought Looks Like

Check out this video about the drought in parts of Africa. See what Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church in America is doing and how you can help!
But Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food or thirsty and give you drink?
"Amen I say to you, whatsoever you have done for the least of your brothers and sisters you have done for me."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 27th 2011: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Mark 13:33-37

Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.

Today we celebrate a new Church year as we begin the four week season of Advent. We journey over these next four weeks with the Shepherds and Magi to Bethlehem awaiting the birth of Jesus with joyful anticipation! Yet, in 2011 we do not expect to find Jesus in Bethlehem, but rather, find Him re-born in our hearts, in our faith community, in the poor, the Scriptures, and in the Eucharist. This presence of Jesus is no less real than when He was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is still alive and has promised that He will always be with us.

In the Gospel today Jesus reminds His disciples to be watchful and alert. This passage foreshadows the later scene when his Apostles fall asleep while Jesus is in the Garden praying before His arrest, yet also speaks to us directly. Watch therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming. We know that in four weeks we will get dressed up and join family at Christmas Mass, open presents, eat too much food, etc.  Christmas is predictable.  Yet we are reminded that preparing for Christmas, Christ’s coming, is something that is ongoing and unpredictable.

We as Christians are waiting for Jesus to come in glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. We do not know when this will happen but prepare for Jesus to come again by making Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. How do we do this? We prepare for Jesus’ coming by making Him more present here on earth. This means living in community, taking care of the poor, praying with the Scriptures, and receiving in the Eucharist.

As we light candles on the Advent wreath each week leading up to Christmas let us pray that as the light grows brighter so too the presence of the Light of the World, Jesus, will be made brighter in our lives to shine on everyone we meet.

Upcoming Advent Events at Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
December 4th, 6:00pm: Ecumenical Christmas Caroling
December 11th/12th: Parent Connection during RE sessions
December 13th 6:00pm: Christmas Giving Tree Wrapping Party
December 19th, 7:00pm: Parish-wide Advent Reconciliation Service
December 24th, Christmas Eve Gospel Enactment during the 5:30pm Mass

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lord, make us turn to you...

If Advent is about preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth, then why is our Gospel this week focused on the Second Coming?   Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.

Odd as this choice of reading seems, in fact, the one event prepares the other:  Jesus’ Second Coming will complete the work begun by his birth in Bethelem, and just as we long for the joys of Christmas, Advent is also a time for us to nourish our longing for the fullness of God’s salvation.  We see this illustrated in Christian art that depicts the swaddled baby Jesus wrapped in what looks like a funeral shroud:  Jesus was born to die – to die for us.

What to do while we’re waiting for his coming?  The psalm’s refrain offers one suggestion:  Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.  Advent is a time for turning back to God, for putting God first in our lives.  And if we can truly place our lives in God’s hands, then he will act through us:  we are the clay and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hands.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Make a Gratitude List

Writing a Gratitude List

Writing a gratitude list doesn’t really require instructions or steps. I mean, basically: Take a clean sheet of paper or blank computer document, and write a list of things you are grateful for. That’s it.Many people do this when they catch themselves being particularly ungrateful. Some do it every morning. It might be an assignment from a spiritual director, life coach, or a sponsor in recovery.
But here are a few tips that may help you:
  • If you feel blocked and don’t know where to start, try to just free-associate one. Don’t worry about coming up with a good one. Just write the first thing that comes to mind. It might be silly, or you might not be sure about it. Just write it down. And that relates to the next tip…
  • Do not censor yourself. Don’t think of something you’re grateful for and then say to yourself, “Oh, that’s silly,” or “That’s not a proper thing to put down a this list,” or “I shouldn’t be grateful for that.” If you think of it, put it on the list.
  • Don’t put anything on your list that you don’t really mean. Don’t write “family” because youshould write that. This list is for you, not for appearances.
  • Leave off explanations and rationalizations. You already know the backstory, so why are you writing it? Doing so suggests you feel like you need to justify the item, which suggests that either the inner censor is at play, or you put the item on your list because you felt like you should.
*Reflection from

Mount Carmel Thrift Shop's Annual Bazaar -- in pictures!

Enjoy a slide show from the Mount Carmel Thrift Shop's Annual Bazaar,
courtesy of the Mill Valley Patch by clicking here!

The Mount Carmel Thrift Store is open Monday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm.  Each year the shop organizes a Christmas Bazaar, which takes place in the Greenwood School's gym.  The shop contributes mightily to our parish budget, and we are grateful for all their hard work!

Serving Those in Need: St. Anthony's Dining Room in SF

St. Anthony’s Dining Room volunteers prepare trays in 3,000-meal-a-day kitchen.

Golden Gate and Jones: All are welcome on corner where hospitality thrives
November 16th, 2011
By Dana Perrigan 

Anthony Harris and Indian Joe have at least one thing in common.

Both have been drawn, on this bright cool November morning, to the San Francisco institution known as St. Anthony’s Dining Room.

There, the similarity seemingly ends.

Something of an institution himself in this Tenderloin neighborhood, Indian Joe — whose real name is Joseph Plamondon and is a member of the Shuschwap tribe in British Columbia — has been lining up each day at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Jones Street for nearly 30 years.

“Usually, I’m first in line,” he says. “Sometimes I get out here as early as 8 a.m. The staff — they’re all cool. I like ‘em. If you’ve got a problem, they’ll help you out. They take time to work with you — and the food is good, too.”

Decked out in a top hat, gray overcoat and round sunglasses at the front of the line, Indian Joe bears more than a passing resemblance to rock star Alice Cooper — whom he once met backstage at the Warfield Theatre, he says, due to the benevolence of a passing stranger.

More recently, he was honored by a female teacher at the nearby De Marillac Academy, who named her son after the man who kindly escorted her to her car after work on so many dark winter nights.

“I make sure the kids and the ladies get safely where they’re going,” he says, “because there are still some unsavory characters around here.”

While Indian Joe has lined up for thousands of meals at St. Anthony’s, today’s lunch will be the first for Anthony Harris.

A few feet away, the 51-year-old homeless man stands on the bustling corner while a constant stream of humanity swirls around him. With one hand, he smokes a cigarette. With the other he clings to all his worldly possessions — an iPod and a cell phone.

“I’ve heard people talk about how good you’re treated here,” says Harris. “I decided to come down and see what it’s like.”

While he looks forward to a hot meal, Harris is more interested in finding out how he can access mental health services. He has been told that there is usually a social worker inside the dining hall who can point him in the right direction.

Considered the gateway to all of St. Anthony’s services and programs, the dining room served — along with those served in its residential programs — a million meals last year.

It serves about 3,000 meals a day, and it is open every single day of the year.

“That’s the way it usually works,” says Karl Robillard, a senior manager of communications and outreach at St. Anthony’s. “They come here for a meal, and we help them access what they need.”

Like Harris and Indian Joe, millions have walked down the ramp on Jones Street — past the prayer of St. Anthony inscribed on an overhanging wall, and into the warm, well-lit dining room — since the doors first opened on the former auto body shop in 1950.

For the past 25 years, Barbara Montagnoli and her army of volunteers have been there to receive them.

“We’re pretty lucky,” says Montagnoli. “We have a wonderful retention rate.”

Last year, approximately 9,000 volunteers donated 170,000 hours to St. Anthony’s, making it possible to carry out its mission to feed, heal, clothe and lift the spirits of the poor on a grand scale.

As the founder and director of the volunteer program, Montagnoli believes that educating volunteers is a very important part of her job. During the volunteer orientation and in the service that follows, they learn about social justice.

“It’s a very integral part of what we do here,” she says. “We want them to know why there is a dining room here in the first place, why we have so many people here, that they’re not all just a bunch of bums.”

Classes from schools, business organizations and groups — such as the 20 members of the Israeli Consulate who have volunteered today — come down to the dining room to serve. For many of them, says Montagnoli, it is the first opportunity they have had to sit down and break bread with the poor.

For some, it is a life-changing experience.

“For my son, it was the beginning of a real consciousness of social justice, something he pursues in his college years,” wrote the mother of a boy from St. Ignatius College Preparatory who spent a day serving at St. Anthony’s.

For others, such as Margaret Mazzie, a nurse who lives in West Portal and has been volunteering twice a week in the dining room for the past 25 years, it is the beginning of a long love affair.

“I totally enjoy it,” says Mazzie. “I love everything about it.”

As the diners finish their meals, they file past a table commandeered by two nuns. The tables are covered with flyers announcing various services and programs offered at St. Anthony’s.

“We’re here mainly to talk to people,” says Presentation Sister Kathleen Healy. “Some people just need someone to talk to.”

“They give us more than we give them,” says Presentation Sister Lucia Lodolo.

The two nuns are in the dining room every Friday.

“So we come here and this is where we find God — in the people,” says Sister Kathleen.

“I come home and I feel that I have touched God,” says Sister Lucia.

St. Anthony’s seeks donations of clothing, food and money especially during the Thanksgiving season. It also welcomes those who are able to donate their time as volunteers. For more information, call St. Anthony’s at (415) 241-2600.

*Article taken from Catholic SF Online Edition

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Altar Servers Needed!

Interested in serving the parish community?
We are recruiting young people who are interested
in being Altar Serving!
What is an Altar Server?
Altar Servers (ladies and gentlemen in grades 5th through H.S.) assist the priest at Mass and help to lead the community in prayer by processing candles, a cross, holding the book for the priest, assisting the priest at the altar, etc. Experience the Mass as you never have before through your active service. 

When will I serve?
We are asking youth to serve at the 10:15am Masses on Sundays and special holidays, no more than once or twice a month. 

We ask that youth be on the serving schedule through the end of the school year so that you can have at least a few opportunities to get used to it! We would like to begin on Christmas working with those who will be here for Christmas Mass.

Do I have to serve by myself?
NO! We will almost always have at least two or three people serving together. The more people we have sign up the more people we can schedule together! Want to serve with a sibling or friend? GREAT!

I’M INTERESTED! What do I do Next?
Training will be held on Sunday, December 4, at 11:45am in the church.  Training will take about 90 minutes including pizza for lunch!  If you have questions, please contact Mike Morison at or at 388-4190.  Please RSVP by email or phone so that we can place a correct order for the amount of pizza needed. 

P.S.  Parents are welcome to attend the training.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

My friend Natalie is doing 18 months of service in Bangkok with underprivileged and handicapped children.

Take a visit to her life of service with those most poor and vulnerable by visiting her blog (with more pictures!) and praying for her and the families she works with!

God, thank you for all that you have given me. Help me to see Your Face in everyone I meet. to always be mindful in prayer of those in most need, and give me the strength and courage to work to meet their needs. Amen.

Learn more about the organization Natalie is volunteering through: Hearts Home USA.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth...

One of the greatest musical expressions of God’s power to reign in our lives is captured in the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah.  This piece has been the focus of several recent “flash mob” events, staged in malls around the country by local opera companies.  The reaction of the crowd seems to be uniformly positive:  everyone present is filled with radiant joy.  Surprising?  Not really.  How could such gorgeous music praising God fill us with anything but joy and wonder?

As we listen to this chorus (words below), let us all be filled with that kind of joy, because Christ our King reigns in our hearts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Matthew 25:31-46 
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus describing the Final Judgment, the Second Coming of Christ where (at some unknown point in the future) “Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end”. As Christians we look forward to this day, not because we want to escape the world around us out of fear; this is not a faithful Christian perspective. We look forward to Christ’s second coming because Jesus coming again makes present what we are working toward: the Transformation of the World so that Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Every day we are called to transform the world around us, to till the soil of the New Creation, so that God’s presence may continue to take root in the world. How do we do this? Sometimes this means living a life of humble heroic virtue, sometimes this means speaking to others about our Faith with confidence and invitation, but this must always include having a relationship with the poor.

Jesus has placed the poor in our lives as a sign of His presence among us. He has placed us in the lives of the poor so that we might meet their needs knowing that whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.

We do not ‘do service’ or help others because we want to be ‘nice’ or because it makes us feel good. We serve others and advocate for justice because we see the face of Jesus in every person, and believe that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and has inherent dignity. When we see other people as our brothers and sisters, instead of as ‘others’, we cannot help but be in relationship with them.

This is our path to holiness, to transform the world and our hearts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Share Your Bread

This week we observe the Feast of Christ the King, and we are called to celebrate the many ways Jesus reigns over our hearts and lives.  The paradox of the feast can be seen in the readings chosen for the day:  in order to pay homage to our King, we must learn to recognize Him in the poor and oppressed, the naked and the needy.  In practical terms, this means daily embracing our relationship with God so that we can expand our hearts, accept those who are different, love more – all this at that profound level that involves more than just dropping money in the collection plate.  If we actively seek union with Other, we can be the sheep He shepherds, vital members of His Kingdom here on earth, recognizing Christ in those around us, and allowing God to work his life-giving action through us.  

David Haas’ “Share Your Bread With the Hungry” (from the CD Glory Day, disk 2) speaks to how our relationship with Other is intricately linked to our relationship with God:  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Relationship with God Expands our Hearts

Embracing the Universe 

Living a spiritual life makes our little, fearful hearts as wide as the universe, because the Spirit of Jesus dwelling within us embraces the whole of creation.  Jesus is the Word, through whom the universe has been created.  As Paul says:  "In him were created all things in heaven and on earth:  everything visible and everything invisible - all things were created through him and for him - in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17).  Therefore when Jesus lives within us through his Spirit, our hearts embrace not only all people but all of creation.  Love casts out all fear and gathers in all that belongs to God.

Prayer, which is breathing with the Spirit of Jesus, leads us to this immense knowledge.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen 

*Read more or subscribe to daily reflections @

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Joy in the Spiritual Life?

What do joy and humor have to do with our spiritual lives? 

Listen in to Fr. James Martin S.J.'s take on the Colbert Report last week! 
The Colbert Report

Like what you hear? Check out Fr. Jim's book: Between Heaven and Mirth

Monday, November 14, 2011

Border Mass unites Mexicans, Americans on both sides of fence

Proud to be Catholic! Check out this story from Catholic San Francisco...

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., and Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of El Paso, Texas, foreground, share the sign of peace with Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, through the fence separating Anapra, Mexico, and Sunland Park, N.M
Border Mass unites Mexicans, Americans on both sides of fence
November 9th, 2011
By Joseph J. Kolb 

ANAPRA, Mexico (CNS) – The Mexican bishop often exchanged glances with his American counterpart as they celebrated the All Souls’ Day Mass. But instead of embracing at the kiss of peace, they touched palms – though the chain-link fence.

Hundreds of Mexicans and Americans joined their bishops for the Mass, enduring dusty wind that created a brown haze. On the Mexican side of the border, on a lot surrounded by trash, wandering dogs, and food vendors, a handful of the 200 attendees paid little attention to the Mass but clung to the fence and stared longingly at the congregation on the U.S. side.

Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of El Paso, Texas, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, concelebrated the annual border Mass on either side of the fence. The theme for this year’s Mass was Remembering Our Dead; Celebrating Life; Working for Justice.

Betty Hernandez, 30, a mother of three and a youth minister at Corpus Christi Church in Anapra, said the Mass helps unify El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in a common cause of remembering those who have died in the drug violence as well as those who died in the nearby deserts, hoping to immigrate to the United States. Making this Mass even more poignant for Hernandez was the death of her neighbor, who was gunned down at a nearby burrito stand the previous week.

“Where there is an abundance of pain and death is God’s glory for us to hope,” she said.

As a youth minister in Anapra, which has seen more than its share of the violence, Hernandez tries to keep the teens involved in church activities, from the band and singers for Masses to ushers wearing their red smocks as a deterrent to the temptation of the easy money and violence associated with drug cartels. Many of these teens sat on the outskirts of the celebration amid the trash and wood-pallet fences that surrounded some of the nearby homes.

Behind Bishop Ascencio on the altar were seminarians from Seminario Conciliar in Ciudad Juarez. Father Hector Villa, rector, said their presence underscores much of what they are learning for their future ministries.

“This Mass is a sign of solidarity, especially for immigrants who try to cross the border and encounter so many troubles to reach their goal,” Father Villa said. “We’re asking the authorities in the U.S. to be more just with the people who want a dignified life through work, and this is also a subtle sign for Mexico that they are responsible for providing work for these people.”

Father Villa said he would like his 94 seminarians to be more exposed to real-life issues – such as violence and immigration – sooner rather than later.

“The church can definitely help more by being more organized and active in this moment where immigrants are seen as enemies,” he said. “These people give so much to the U.S. in terms of work, culture, and money.”

During the Mass, Bishop Ascencio accepted symbols of the migrants’ journey to the United States: flags from Latin American countries of origin, a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a gallon jug of water, a backpack and tennis shoes.

When the Mass was initiated in 1999 it was at the height of the infamous murders of Daughters of Juarez, female factory workers who disappeared and were later found to be sexually assaulted and murdered. Some were buried in shallow graves not far from where the Mass was celebrated. The number of these victims has been projected as high as 400. Since 2006, Ciudad Juarez has seen about 8,500 murders as a result of a brutal drug war.

Marco Raposo estimated that on the U.S. side, 300 people attended the Mass, celebrated in Sunland Park, N.M., in the Las Cruces diocese. Raposo is director of the El Paso diocesan Peace and Justice Ministry, which helped arrange the liturgy.

In his homily, Bishop Ramirez said the Massgoers had come together “once again to ask forgiveness” for crimes, sins, violence and injustice that the border fence represents. He cited examples of violence and death on the part of both Mexico and the United States.

He said the physical barrier of the fence shouldn’t stop those on both sides of the border from loving each other “as the brothers and sisters they are in the eyes of God.”

– Contributing to this story was Andy Sparke.

From November 11, 2011 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November 13th 2011: Sunday Gospel Reflection

Matthew 25:14-30
Just as the sun is setting earlier and the length of days is narrowing, we Catholics are drawing to the close of our Liturgical Year. On November 27th, the First Sunday of Advent, we will begin a new year, marking the four weeks to prepare for the Light of the World to be born at Christmas. Until then the themes of the readings at Mass are focused on endings, specifically the end of the world where we believe, as we profess at Mass, “Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end”.

“There is no way of telling people that they are walking around shining like the sun!” 
-Thomas Merton

In today’s Second Reading, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Christians living in the town of Thessilonica, he tells them that all of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are made to live in the light, not to dwell in darkness and shadows. Sometimes bringing things ‘to light’ can be scary because we can’t hide what we would prefer others not to see: a bad habit, doubts, fears, an addiction, a secret, etc. In the light we are seen as we are and that is not always comforting!

In truth we can never really keep parts of our lives in complete darkness. The God who made us and holds us in existence knows us perfectly-even those parts of our lives that are darker. He made us to live in the light of day and waits for us to be with Him there.

Holding things back from God or others is tiring and ultimately affects our relationships with others whether we want it or not. If a friend tells us a secret about someone else, it is very difficult to have the same comfortable relationship with that person because we cannot be fully honest with them, ultimately a good friend will know that something is up.

In today’s Gospel, The Parable of the Talents, Jesus teaches his followers about using and sharing the gifts God has given. God has given us much in our life as a gift and He expects much from us in return! The Gospel message is about letting our light shine so that it might be shared with others, unlike the servant in the parable who buries his talent out of fear. When we bury our gifts in the dark ground we don’t allow them to be given as gifts.

As our days get darker we also approach the Season of Advent and prepare for Jesus, the Light of the World, to be born and made present in our hearts. As Christmas approaches may we commit ourselves to live as people of the light and to shine like the sun, sharing that light with those around us. 

Photo Credit 1
Photo Credit 2 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fear of the Lord

Fear of the Lord

Here's something from Fr. Pat's Scripture class to think about before Sunday!

What comes to mind when you hear the word “fear”?  Probably some kind  of negative image, right?  But what about that expression we hear so often in Scripture:  “fear of the Lord”?  What’s cool is that this kind of “fear” is a positive thing:  it refers to a sense of awe, that feeling of wonder that we experience when we recognize all that God is and does in our lives. 

Think of a moment when you were stopped in your tracks by the realization that all that you are, all that you have, is a gift from God.  And then imagine what it would be like to live within that realization, to live blessed, every moment of every day, grateful for and engaged in relationship with God.  That would be living in “fear of the Lord” – a beautiful thing, indeed!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Will Wait...For You

Awesome (and hilarious) poetry slam about waiting for real love. Check it out!

he had a form of Godliness....but not much...but hey I can change him so i'll take him because he's close...enough

Even after having never met me let me assure you: I will wait for you. I will no longer date, socialize or communicate with carbon copies of you to appease my boredom or to quench my thirsty desire for attention and short lives compliments from sorta-kinda' know he's sorta-kinda right and sorta-kinda wrong. His first name Luke, his last name warm...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Words at Mass? An Invitation!

From Mount Carmel parishioner and guest blogger Suzanne: 
Catechesis – It’s Not Just for Kids!
How often do we really think about the words we say at Mass, the prayers we pray along with the assembly, the gestures we make? With the arrival of the new Roman Missal, we will all be getting used to new language at Mass – not at every moment during the liturgy, but frequently enough so that we will be obliged to stop and take notice… and, perhaps, to reflect on what the words we are saying actually mean.

This morning Fr. Pat offered the first of two classes on the new language of the Roman Missal, and the ways in which that language is meant to enable the liturgy to transform us through our active role in Eucharist. We can’t enter fully into the interaction that is transformative, though, unless we understand why it is that we are gathering, and how the language we use serves to help us define who we are, to understand our faith, and to live our faith journey.

The new language will cause us to break old patterns. Why, for example, change “And also with you” to “And with your spirit”? What are we recognizing about the priest when we refer to his “spirit”? What does it mean to say, “I have greatly sinned”… and do I have to be worried about this? How does the repetition, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” heighten the experience of the Confiteor? Why do we refer to Jesus as the “Only begotten Son” in the Gloria? What’s the difference between “sin” and “sins”? Since when is the Lord the “God of hosts,” and who on earth are these hosts?

If you’d like to understand the new language of the Mass better, understand what it is we are affirming as we enter into common prayer, then, if you can, try to attend one of Fr. Pat’s sessions on the new Missal. There’s one tonight at 7, with a second half next week Wednesday. Sessions are also planned for Advent, when we will already be using the new language and people will likely have questions… 

If you’ve ever experienced Mass in a foreign language, you already have a sense of what responding with new words feels like – and believe me, it can be very strange, but really fascinating at the same time. The new language of the Roman missal is a great opportunity for all of us to think more carefully about what we are saying when we respond to the priest at Mass, and, as a result, to enter more deeply into prayer, to be 

transformed, so that we really can go forth to be the Body of Christ for the World. Are you ready?

Photo Credit

Don't Forget to Wonder

God created each of us and created the world for us, so that all of creation might be a sign of His love. In the smallest or most silly moments we can find God in our world and wonder. By wondering in amazement of the world we recover our identity, God's divine image imprinted within us and around us.
Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

In a very logical/scientific world we prefer to explain away wonder, but by holding a newborn child, taking in beautiful scenery or witnessing crazy birds flying in orchestra we are reminded of the beauty of creation that gives glory to God.

Thank God today for His presence in your life. Having trouble finding God in your life? Look harder today!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Parent Connection: The Bible is the Word of God

In case you missed it, here are the cliff notes from October's Parent Connection on the Bible. You can also find a printable version on the RE website under the Parents page
                                                                                                       OCTOBER 2011
The Bible is the Word of God

The Bible is God’s love letter to us Soren Kierkegaard
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ St. Jerome
To read Scripture means to turn to Christ for advice St. Francis of Assisi

-“The Bible-which is also called the Sacred Scriptures-tells the story of the loving relationship between God and humankind” (Catholic Youth Bible, C1)

-The Bible was written by human beings who were inspired by God. This is how we can say that God is the author of the Scriptures.

-There are two different layers of meaning in the Bible:
1. Literal (what actually happened? What was the culture like then? What literary form is the author using? Etc.) Ex. Jesus used imagery of building because he and his father Joseph were carpenters/architects
2. Spiritual (How does this connect to God’s plan for salvation? How does this passage help me to understand Jesus or the Church? What message does this passage have for me today? Ex. We can see later the foreshadowing that Jonah had with Jesus since Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days and Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days.

-The Canon (collection of books) of the Bible was determined by the Pope gathered in community with the Bishops of the world at the Council of Hippo in 393. In the Catholic Tradition the Canon has not changed since 393. After the Reformation Protestant communities chose to use a different Canon of the Old Testament.

-How the Bible came to exist illustrates how we as Catholics believe about the Bible and how it differs from Protestants. We believe that the Bible is one way that God has revealed Himself to us but not the only way.

-The Catholic Church believes that God reveals himself in three ways:
1. Scripture: The inspired written Word of God
2. Tradition: “The living transmission of the message of the Gospel in the Church” (US Catechism for Adults). This includes the oral teachings and living example of the Apostles that inform our current practices even though they might not be written down explicitly in the Bible.
3. The Magisterium: The successors of the Apostles (the Pope and Bishops) make up the Magisterium, or the teaching authority of the Church which is the primary interpreter and protector of the Scriptures and Tradition. Jesus passed on His authority here on earth to his Apostles before He ascended to heaven. The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, continues to guide the Church and interpret God’s revelation. Since the Holy Spirit is within each of us, we, as members of the Church, play a role in understanding, interpreting, and articulating God’s revelation when we do so in union with our Apostolic Church.

-Most Catholics have a limited understanding of the Bible because the Catholic Church has not placed a strong emphasis on individual reading and interpretation of the Bible, focusing more on the Scriptures being read and interpreted within the community at Mass. Since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s there has been a refreshing renewed emphasis on individual Catholics reading and praying with the Scriptures both individually and in community.

-As Catholics we are not a ‘people of the book’ but believe that the Word of God is ultimately a Person (John 1), Jesus Christ, who dwells within us and speaks to us today.

Ideas for using the Bible at Home:
-Have a Bible at home for reference
-Read the Sunday Gospel either before Mass or after Mass
-Have a Bible quote of the week on a dry-erase board at home for inspiration
-Use the Bible around the dinner table for mealtime prayer
-Use the Bible for reading bedtime stories
-Read the Bible to learn more about your faith
-Read the Infancy Narratives each Christmas

Recommended Bibles and Resources:
For Elementary School

For Middle School
Catholic Youth Bible—Purchased for each Middle School Youth

For Parents

Other Bible Resources for Parents