Mass Times and Locations
 

Wednesday, November 13: A Pilgrimage

The Catholic Catechism says that a pilgrimage “evokes our earthly journey toward heaven and are traditionally special occasions for renewal in prayer. For pilgrims seeking living water, shrines are special places for living the forms of Christian prayer.” (CCC 1674)

This week, we got to hear from some parishioners who made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia. Medjugorie was only recently recognized by the Catholic Church as a credible site for a pilgrimage and it joins a list of many sites, official and unofficial, that Catholics might choose to visit to experience prayer at a shrine.

The first point of our discussion was to share the experience that our parishioners had in visiting Bosnia and to hear how their pilgrimage touched their faith. Such experiences reach people in different ways.

The second point of our discussion was to talk about miracles. Many have visited Medjugorie and heard about the apparitions there and have come away with their own personal stories: Rosaries that change to gold, learning of a secret revealed, actual healing. These are miraculous events that require some faith to understand. However, the Medjugorie stories we heard also included how strangers assisted a young girl who got separated from her family and was dehydrated and how travelers at Medjugorie assisted each other to make the long climb to the actual shrine. These human gestures are how God displays his love to us.

By talking about a pilgrimage, we are also invited to recognize that miracles can and do happen outside of shrines and churches, where God reveals his love in human ways. How many times have you thought about how lucky you are because some chance event happened that brought good things to your life? Or, that you just happened to be standing in a place where you could see the horizon and could watch the sun actually set for the day? What if we were to look at these somewhat more common occurrences as miracles in our midst? With each witnessed miracle, we turn to our Creator to recognize His greatness. This is a good thing! Each time we recognize something that God has done for us, we are more inclined to recognize Him more!

News from NCYC

On Thursday, Nov. 21, 13 high school students and 3 adults from Mount Vernon, Lisbon, and Springville will begin their journey to NCYC 2019. Our bus will leave St. John’s between 6:30 and 7am.

The 2019 NCYC theme is Blessed + Broken + Given/Bendito + Partido + Entregado.  This theme is rooted in the scriptural account of Jesus meeting the two disciples on their way to Emmaus after the resurrection (Luke 24:13-35). All parishioners are invited to participate in NCYC virtually during the conference’s livestream events. These can be found at  http://www.ncyc.info/livestream.

The schedule for live streaming the general sessions is below. Several breakout sessions throughout the day will also be live-streamed. Please note, if you refer to the NCYC website, that Indianapolis is in the Eastern Time Zone; Times below are in central time.

Thursday, November 21

6:30-10:00 pm CT – Evening Opening Session— Blessed

Friday, November 22

7:30-19:45 am CT – Morning General Session – Broken

6:30 pm–10 pm CT – Evening General Session – Broken

Saturday, November 23

7:30-9:45 am CT – Morning General Session – Given

6:30 pm–10:00 pm CT – Saturday Vigil Closing Mass

Wednesday, Oct. 23: St. Paul and Perseverence

Of the many things that St. Paul is known for, one of them is the virtue of perseverance. If you take some time to read through the Acts of the Apostles, you can find many stories that where Paul faced a number of challenges, beginning with his conversion story when he was struck blind. (Acts 9) Paul was thrown in prison more than once, and in his letters, we learn that he also took up the task of keeping his friends on solid moral grounding. Through all the trials, Paul persevered in his love and devotion in Christ.

Perseverance is defined as steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose. It means staying on course even when challenges or difficulties arise.  In his letters, Paul makes it clear that it is God’s grace that enables him to persevere and to work hard to be what God called him to be. It wasn’t Paul’s efforts but God’s life and strength within him. Grace was very important to Paul. He talks about it over 100 times in his letters and starts every letter with the greeting, “Grace to you . . .”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace as: “favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons [and daughters], partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (CCC, #1996)

How grace works is a mystery and often, a miracle. It is grace that touches us when we grieve and when we excel, when we work hard and when we find joy in another’s accomplishment. St. Paul’s story as a Christian reminds us how grace might look, but each of us receives God’s grace in different ways. The miracle of grace is that we receive it without asking and, possibly, when we most need it. If we allow God to work in our lives through prayer and through our Catholic community, we will be even more aware and open to the grace that God grants.

Wednesday, Sept. 25

To those just beginning their high school career, decision-making looks very different when compared to those in the latter half of their high school years. That doesn’t mean that God shouldn’t be part of their decision-making process. We laughed over the story about one student who chose to respond to a coach’s challenge in a “different way” than what was expected. It seemed like a good idea to take a shortcut and it was a fun shortcut…until the coach told them to go back and do it again, the way he expected. It was one of those “it seemed like a good idea at the time…” stories. But, is it really necessary or practical to stop and pray in the moment to ask God if it’s ok to take a shortcut, or respond to someone with a quick lie, or to go against a rule? Many parents would say yes; yes it is necessary. But, even parents would admit that they themselves do not always say a prayer when making “little” decisions.

St. Ignatius provides us with a few guides to help us learn to “become deeply aware of God’s presence even in the midst of a busy life.” The Ignatian Daily Examen gives us a chance to reflect on our day with God. Daily practice of the examen, over time, can help us to be more mindful of God, which, over time, can help us to consider God in those “little” decisions. Consequences are something we teach our children at a young age. Every decision has consequences. If every decision we make is based on God’s desire for us, the collective consequence of our decisions should bring us closer to God. Or, that’s the idea anyway. It’s a lot to consider, but we have St. Ignatius as a guide and we have prayer to support us.

Wednesday, Sept. 18: Jr-Sr Night

As we opened this year’s conversation with juniors and seniors, we used the word, “discernment.” Webster’s gives us this definition: 1: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure : skill in discerning 0r 2: an act of perceiving or discerning something. It is a word that our Archbishop uses and that Pope Francis has written about. They are probably aware that the root word for discernment in Greek is “diakrisis,” meaning to select, assess, or believe. In the New Testament, authors used the word “diakrino” which means “to distinguish between people.” We challenged our youth to consider this last definition in their world today. As they begin to make some of life’s bigger decisions, how will they call on their faith, on God, to help them choose between the persons they could become, to believe who they are called to be.

We took time to share our decision-making stories and admitted that our choices aren’t always guided by our call from Christ, that taking time to bring our faith into the “pro’s and con’s” list can be hard, but when we relied on faith, we were more content with how things unfolded. Which is precisely what St. Ignatius has to teach us. The once extremely vain soldier learned that if he thought about how he would impress people in his future life, he felt empty; but if he thought about modeling his life after the saints, he felt peace. His reflections led to a conversion and St. Ignatius spent years writing about discernment. He left us with a few templates to guide in “finding a way of proceeding” with Christ. One of these is the Daily Examen which can help us be more present to God. ( https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/)

Big decisions can be challenging. But perhaps more important are all the little decisions we make every day. St. Ignatius’ encouragement to be present to God is a way to help us keep those little decisions on track with God’s desire for us. At the World Communications Day in 2018, Pope Francis reminded us why true discernment is so important:

“To discern truth, we need to discern everything that encourages communion and promotes goodness from whatever instead tends to isolate, divide, and oppose. An impeccable argument can indeed rest on undeniable facts, but if it is used to hurt another or to discredit a person in the eyes of others, however correct it may seem, it is not truth. The truth can be recognized from the fruits it bears: it promotes informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue. Untruth results in quarrels, division, and resignation.”

It seems that what Pope Francis has said is valid whether we are speaking to ourselves or to others. He and the great St. Ignatius are coaching us to work at discerning truth in all we do and say.

Welcome!

When Fr. Andy talked about having an opening session for parents for Faith Formation, I thought about asking for a pass on behalf of high school parents. You’ve been a parent of a kid in faith formation for awhile now, and your high school student is taking a bit more responsibility in getting to church on Wednesdays, so why worry about an official opening? But then I reflected on his idea and found myself singing the children’s song that says “the more we get together, together…the happier we’ll be.” I had always thought about that song meaning you have to invite everyone – more friends=more happiness. Yet, in my afternoon wondering that day, I recognized that it could also mean more, as in “often”!

I realized that Father was opening a door as one more chance for us to gather. And, it wasn’t just for parents because we also planned a welcoming sort of activity for our youth. Our time together was short, but we also shared in the Eucharist, which brings us together in the most Catholic of ways. And, despite that short time, we had the chance to connect. The high school students were left with a somewhat impossible task to complete a “passport” of impossible questions, but by all reports, the activity helped everyone interact. Aubrey shared that everyone was “able to introduce [themselves] to new freshmen and made them feel welcome in high school faith formation.” Paige shared that she loved seeing how eager everyone was to fill out the “impossible question passport.”

What I learned is that even though high school parents are, well, HIGH SCHOOL parents, every chance we have to get together is a chance to connect. And, when we get the chance to connect at Church, we are connecting through Jesus Christ himself. We have the chance to share his love, the more we get together….