LIVING LIVES OF MAGNANIMITY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.” - Thomas Merton
Pastoral Associate for Mission & Discipleship
In addition to having a personal relationship with Jesus and following Jesus as His disciple, one of the other maxims we hear often is “encountering Jesus”. For example: encountering Jesus in the sacraments, encountering Jesus in the Scriptures, or encountering Jesus while serving others.
What does it mean to encounter Jesus? Most of us are familiar with St. Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:3-5), which was a powerful and transformative encounter. Establishing this as the standard by which all other encounters with Jesus are measured though seems a bit unfair. Instead, let me share some examples of encounters with Jesus from my own life.
Sometimes at Mass, especially during the consecration, I am moved by Jesus’ goodness and love for me, his desire to share himself with me in the Eucharist, helping me become more like him - more patient, more understanding, and more loving. At these moving moments, I tear up. That’s an encounter with Jesus.
Sometimes when reading the daily Gospel, a word or phrase strikes me. I ask Jesus what he has for me with that particular word. Struck by a word in the Bible and allowing Jesus to speak into my life (because I opened the door for Him). That’s an encounter with Jesus.
Sometimes when I am serving those in need (the poor, the distressed, the crying child in the middle of the night), I see Jesus in disguise. How do I know it’s Jesus? Because I am transformed. When I serve those in need, I am changed. The capacity of my heart to love expands. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard and not necessarily immediate, but it is transformative. And Jesus transforms.
The very first paragraph of the Catechism teaches, “at every time and in every place, God draws close to man” (CCC 1). Jesus is constantly reaching out to us, wanting us to encounter him. Most of us are probably already encountering Jesus (though not calling it that). Those who aren’t just need to open the door to him, for Jesus promised: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20).
Tools for Enriching Your Prayer
Prayer takes work and thus it requires a firm commitment to be persistent. Establishing action steps will aid you in your spiritual growth. Start by committing to
“Taking 10 + 2 + Family”
Take 10: Set aside 10 minutes every day to talk with Jesus. Share your joys, heartaches, pains, wishes, regrets, and desire to be closer to Him.
Plus 2: Make Sunday Mass a priority. In addition, spend a holy hour in Adoration with the Lord. BE STILL and LISTEN!
Plus Family: Pray as a family everyday, whether it’s at dinner, at bedtime, or in the morning before school. Read and reflect on Sacred Scripture together. Pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. Read a Saint’s biography or other spiritual reading.
Other ways to enrich your prayer life in the parish community include:
- Becoming a weekly Adoration Prayer minister
- Attending either the Tuesday or Thursday morning Lectio Divina group
- Taking part in the Spring Bible Study on Acts of the Apostles
- Joining the Homebound Communion Team
By whatever means this is accomplished throughout the week, the important thing is that a conscious effort is being made to spend time with the One who we love most.
- Do I have a growing desire to spend more time with Jesus? Am I growing in my desire to obey and please God?
- Am I spending time attending weekly Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist?
- How often do I spend time in uninterrupted Prayer, in reading and meditating on the Word?
- Am I taking time to pray regularly with my spouse and children?
- Am I taking time to become more aware of the sins in my life?
- Are there areas I am holding back from a fuller relationship with Jesus? Which ones? Why?
- Do I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me each day?
Loving Our Neighbor
Are you currently serving in a ministry at Our Lady of Grace? Or have you wanted to help, but feel that you do not have something special to offer? As St. Paul says in Romans, God has graced each of us with gifts to be used to help further God’s reign (cf. Rom 12:4-8) . In other words, as stewards of God gifts, we each have something special to offer:
“For as one body we have many parts, and all the part do not have the same function, so we though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhort, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if on is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Steps to Choosing a Ministry
The fact that you are reading this is a positive sign! It most likely means that you are ready to become a partner in ministry. It seems Jesus could well have been thinking about ministers in Matthew 25:37-40:
“Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
Our Lady of Grace has a ministry for every skill and interest.
- Find a quiet place and time. Maybe spend some time in Adoration.
- Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire, and help you to discern your call to ministry.
- Reflect. Do a self-assessment of your gifts. Attending a Called & Gifted discernment workshop will greatly aid you in this process. What are my charisms, talents and skills? What are my likes? Do I have any special abilities or experience, including life experience? What are my dislikes?
- Review the Discipleship Guide. Sometimes just looking at what is available will provide the revelation you need to make a choice and get involved. What grabs my attention or peaks my interest? How would I like to grow or what would I like to learn? How might my gifts, charisms, talents, abilities, experience and skills be used in one of these ministries? Where is God calling me to serve?
Ways to Get Involved
Please commit to serving in at least one ministry by going to www.olgparish.org. Click on the Get Involved page to access the 2017-2018 Stewardship of Service form.
Committee and Planning Work
Men’s Club, Social Justice Missions Committee, RCIA Leadership Team, School Advisory Council
Teaching or Working With Adults
Marriage Prepare Ministry, RCIA team, New Parishioner Welcoming, Stephen Ministry, Sposi Novelli – A Newlywed Ministry
Ministries Designed for People in Need
Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Sharing and Caring Hands, St. Stephens Loaves and Fishes, Eucharistic Minister to the Homebound
Office Skills to Share?
Join the New Parishioner Welcome Call team, be part of the Coordination team for Adoration
Hosting or Hospitality
Being a Greeter, Funeral hospitality, New Parishioner Welcome dinner team, Arts and Environment Committee, Moms of Grace, Young Adult Core Team, Vacation Bible school kitchen/decorations crew
Working with Children
Sunday School and Child Faith Formation, Vacation Bible School, Parish Nursery, John Paul II School, Children’ Liturgy of the Word leader, Cub scouts
Working with Teens
Encounter, Confirmation, or LifeNight Discipleship Group Leader, Boy Scouts, Peer Ministry, Mission Home
Serve at Mass
Liturgical ministries, Music ministries
Creative or Good at Working with Your Hands?
Weeders and Feeders, Our Lady Knitters, Quilters and Prayer Shawl Ministry
Limited Time or Cannot Commit Long Term?
Substitute Catechist, Funeral hospitality, Living Rosary Prayer Network, Blood Drive, Grief Support Ministry, Youth Ministry retreat support
Called and Gifted
When: Friday, October 6, 7:00 – 9:00 PM and Saturday, October 7, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Where: St. Joseph Catholic Church, West Saint Paul
What: Explore the ancient teaching of the Church on how the gifts (or charisms) of the Holy Spirit work in our life and in the life of your parish. During these two-day workshops, you will learn the signs and characteristics of the most common charisms of the Holy Spirit. This introductory workshop is the first step in a three-part discernment process developed by the Catherine of Siena Institute.
Cost: $80 per person. Includes: materials, refreshments, and follow-up personal discernment guidance.
Register: Visit archspm.org/called-gifted for more information and to register.
Putting God First in Finances
What is tithing?
The word tithe actually means one-tenth and the act of tithing, a very ancient practice of worship, means setting aside a tenth of one’s income to return to the Lord. It was established in the Old Testament by Abraham and a man called Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20). Originally the tithe was given in the form of produce or livestock, as that was one’s “wealth”. As the culture shifted from a barter-based system of trade to a monetary exchange system, the tithe began to be paid in currency. Whether one gave livestock or money was not as important as the understanding that is was a grateful response to a generous God. It was recognizing with gratitude all the blessings God had bestowed. Thus, every believer has a need to tithe to God, primarily as an act of worship, not merely as a duty.
Tithing as an act of worship?
Yes! It’s no accident that the fruits of our labor, the collection, are offered at the same time as the presentation of the bread and wine. Just as bread and wine represent the “work of human hands”, money represents the results of our work. This monetary gift represents the gift of ourselves to God, from our hard work and sacrifice. Just as God transforms the bread and wine and gives them back to us to share in His life, God accepts our monetary gifts and transforms it through the work of the parish.
What does the New Testament say about tithing?
What Jesus calls us to do in the New Testament is far more radical than the command to the Israelites to give 10%. Jesus asks us to give up everything and follow Him. Throughout Sacred Scripture we are told that everything comes from God and belongs to God. Our very lives and all that we have are gifts from God and were entrusted to us for the good of all people. When we tithe we are simply gifting back that which already belongs to God in support of His Church and people.
What effect does my tithing have?
When we tithe, it has two effects. One, it makes possible the work of God that is happening in the parish, in the Archdiocese, and throughout the Church. Two, it helps us to prioritize: it helps keep money in its proper place in our lives. Money certainly isn’t everything, that is what God is, but it is something. So, in addition to helping others, tithing helps us maintain a healthy relationship with money.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow.” (Prov 3:9-10).