Last weekend over a dozen children and adults from our parish and school picked blueberries at Blueberry Haven. Why? Due to the wet weather, the crop hasn’t been picked yet and many of the berries are in danger of rotting on the bush.
Blueberry Haven approached us because the berries were going to be wasted if they were not picked. Several families responded to this need. Over a hundred pounds of berries that would have gone to waste will now be used in the school lunch program. Our children learned the importance of service by taking care of the gifts that God has given. A valuable lesson in stewardship! By working together, everybody won.
This is only one example of wise stewardship going on in our community. The generosity of people donating their skills, time, money, and work for the St. Mary’s Sauer Kraut Festival this weekend is another example. If you weren’t involved in some way this year, be sure to help out next year. It is a wonderful event and exemplifies generous sharing and careful use of God’s gifts to us. At the festival, everybody wins.
God continues to bless us in unexpected ways. This weekend we hear that “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” As disciples, we strive to care for all the gifts God gives us. One way we do that is to find situations where “everybody wins.”
If you have ideas or examples where "everybody wins" I would love to hear them. So many good things are happening in our community. Let’s proclaim the good news to one another.
P.S. If you are interested in picking berries (there is no charge for the berries if they are for the school lunch program) please contact Mary Hohensee at the parish office.
Lincoln A. Wood
St. Mary's Parish, Bear Creek
St. Rose Parish, Clintonville
“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions.”
These are Jesus' words to us in this Sunday's Gospel. But how? How do we guard against greed? We are surrounded by messages that tell us that we are incomplete. Buy this product and you will be happy. Eat this food and you will find fulfillment. We all know that these promises are empty. Yet the temptation is always there. Is there a spiritual practice that can help us fight the temptation to greed?
I believe there is. That practice is gratefulness. Cultivating gratefulness can be an antidote to the temptation of greed. An easy way to cultivate gratefulness is to “Count your blessings.” This simple practice can be done regularly to empower us to resist the temptation to greed. Many people count their blessings just before bed as they review the many gifts that God has given them. Even on the worst days, there is much to be grateful for: sunshine or rain, a child's smile, food on the table, a glass of clear water, flowers… These simple blessings are innumerable.
There is even a website dedicated to gratefulness. You can find it at: www.gratefulness.org It has many wonderful resources and videos to cultivate gratefulness. Also check out this powerful video at:
A grateful heart is a generous heart. A grateful heart is free from greed because it is filled with the recognition of the abundant gifts that God has given. A disciples heart is a grateful heart. As disciples, may we deepen our sense of gratefulness in the coming week!
“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Prayer is a great mystery. It is also a gift. The Gospel from Luke this week challenges us to be persistent in our prayer and to keep asking God for what we need. The Catechism on the Catholic Church says, “We ought always to pray and not to lose heart.”
Yet fear steps in. I am often afraid to ask God for anything. I’m afraid of being demanding and treating God like Santa Claus. I’m afraid of being too specific because if I don’t receive what I ask for I fear my faith will crumble. It is much safer for me to keep God at a distance. “He’s busy. Why would he care about me and my little life?” I say to myself.
But for some reason my heart won’t give up. It cries out in spite of my fears because deep down, the Holy Spirit that has been poured into my heart, knows that God is good. That He wants what is best for me. The depths of my heart know that I am loved by a loving Father.
It is this gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts that enables us to pray and to be persistent in our prayer. God loves us. There is nothing to fear. “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” God loves us. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Praying the Ignatian Way – Reflective Prayer – Loyola Press
This is a simple and wonderful way to pray. During the month of July I am always drawn to Ignatius’ simple methods of reflection.
I slept and I dreamt life was joy.
I awoke and I saw life was service.
I acted and behold service was joy.
Finding the right balance is an ongoing challenge in the world today. There are so many things that seem to scream out for our action, especially in times of transition. I know that I can easily get caught up in running from a meeting to soccer practice to visiting the sick to counseling a couple preparing for marriage to paperwork (which never seems to end) to writing to returning calls to putting a Band-Aid on Micah’s knee to doing the dishes and all the while my cell phone is ringing and I know that my e-mail box is filling. At the end of the day I can fall into bed exhausted and wondering what I accomplished.
Most of the activities we get caught up in are good. They are service. They are, each in their own way, attempts to help manifest the Kingdom of God in the world. But are they bringing joy?
When I read the poem above by Ribindranath Tagore, a nobel prize winning Indian poet, I realized that much of my service was not joy. I had lost the roots of service. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that without rooting our service in prayer it will become a burden. Martha felt the burden of service. She was weighed down by worries and anxiety which deprived her of joy. Mary chose the “better part” by sitting “at the Lord’s feet listening to him speak.” This “better part” would allow Mary to serve with joy because she was rooted in the Lord. Finding the right balance between prayer and service enables us to serve with joy. If you are feeling burdened by many worries, maybe that burden is a call to sit at the Lord’s feet in prayer and listen to His gentle, loving voice.