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Homily – Trinity Sunday

Eustace was a man whose faith practice had grown somewhat lukewarm. One year he attended a retreat, however, that changed all that. At the retreat, the priest-retreat director asked three questions that, for some reason and through the grace of the Holy Spirit, affected Eustace quite significantly. The priest said, “if you wanted to know what you’re supposed to be doing in life you need to answer three questions this weekend:”

 

picture for why who gift

  1. Why did you come here?
  2. Who are you looking for?
  3. Each of you has a unique gift that nobody else has. Do you know what that gift is?

The priest continued:

If you can’t answer question number one, then why don’t you just leave? And concerning question two, you’re not here for a reason – you’re here for a person, even if you don’t know it.  And finally, if you don’t know the answer to question three, then you don’t know what you’re on earth for. And if you don’t know why you’re on earth, you’re life is aimless. It has no purpose and no direction. And if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

The parish of St. Monica is also in a place where we are asking ourselves the same 3 questions. And so the readings from Trinity Sunday provide us an opportunity to present:

1 Vision – 3 Questions – 5 Promises

 

1 VISION

Over the past several months, the St. Monica Parish Councils have been forming a “Parish Vision.” (A summary can be found here).  The goal is to grow the parish by 80 people over the next year (10% of the 800 people who regularly come to celebrate mass with us on any given Sunday). In addition, we are calling each member of the parish to commit to 5 PROMISES over the next year:

  1. Pray for 10 minutes every day (5 minutes for children 3rd grade and younger)
  2. Read 3 pages of some type of Catholic book every day.
  3. Say something about your faith, the Pope, your parish, the church, Jesus, etc.. to at least one person each week.
  4. Increase your offering by 1% over last year.
  5. Participate in one pastoral outreach/service activity during the year.

 

What’s at stake here? 2 Items:

  1. For each person.

The Scripture readings today say, “I have come so that they…MIGHT (not will) have eternal life.” In the Words of Consecration we hear, “This is my blood, poured out for you and FOR MANY (not for all) for the forgiveness of sin.

This is in contrast to many people who feel, “Once saved, always saved” or “Hey, I received Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation. I went to Catholic school, I’m just fine.” You’re not fine. The Scripture reading and the prayers at Mass clearly indicate that not everyone goes to heaven.  invitation - word in letterpress typeThe invitation, the call, the opportunity for heaven is offered to everyone but the invitation needs to be accepted, the call needs a positive response and the opportunity needs to be appropriated.

The call is a call of love from Christ to share in the love-life of the Trinity. This involves a personal, and daily, choice. Yet, the energy of giving is limited in our human capacity and the ability to choose to love unconditionally is hard – if not impossible – without help. This help can not come from some kind of “supply” inside ourselves. It can come only from outside ourselves – from God through His grace.

  1. For our Parish

A few months ago, several parishioners and I met with Bishop McIntyre to ask him the question, “How does the Archdiocese view St. Monica two years after the school closing and the financial crisis we experienced.”  He mentioned a number of items:

  •  The archdiocese was very impressed with the fact that the parish was able to turn itself around and how quickly it did so.
  • It is not the intention of the archdiocese to close or consolidate any parish that is active, vibrant and growing.
  • Although the finances of St. Monica are solid, other “markers” of vibrant parish life seem to be flat  picture for word flat such as weekly Mass attendance (flat), weekly collections (down), vocations (none), baptisms (down), weddings (few), RCIA candidates (one).

Do the math – connect the dots. Sometime in the future, all of the parishes in our area will undergo regional parish studies. Following  the analysis, there are only three choices: The parish closes, the parish consolidates … or the parish climbs higher.  Thus the Parish Councils have engaged this opportunity to “climb” and become a more vibrant, active and growing parish.

 

THE 3 QUESTIONS REVISITED:

  • Why did you come here?

o  For each parishioner: Why do you come to church – at all?

o  For the Parish: Why do people come to St. Monica. Why don’t they come to St. Monica?

 

  • Who are you looking for? Notice, not “WHAT are you looking for?”

o   For each parishioner: What about your relationship to Christ needs adjusting?

o   For the Parish: St. Augustine said that “Our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord.” People who “aren’t here” are still restless. They’re lonely, even if they don’t know it. They’re looking for fulfilling relationships with God and with others. Let’s provide that.

 

  • Each of you has a unique gift that nobody else has. Do you know what that gift is?

o For each parishioner: If you don’t know what it is, ask five people. Take their answers and pray about it.  Have a conversation with the Lord along the lines of, “Ok Lord, I have these gifts and talents. Why did you give them to me? What am I to do with them? Or, come on October 25 – 25 to the “Called and Gifted” workshop/retreat that St. Monica Parish will be sponsoring.  Called and Gifted is a process designed to help Christians discern the presence of charisms in their life and to help them live fuller spiritual lives as disciples.

o  For the Parish: Jesus and the Father gave it all to us. Where is St. Monica not giving as well as it could? Where are the missing gifts? Who has them? Why aren’t they here? How do we get them here?

 

In today’s readings Moses said,  “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company.” Let’s invite the Lord to come along in our company. Jesus walking with us Let’s ask the Lord to surprise us and see what the Lord does.

 

Audio version of the homily is here:

 

 

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