- Reasons Why People Think Catholics Are "Crazy" (A bit of humor… [the smiling cat])
- Children Ask Pope Francis Questions (Belleville News and BEYOND)
- Guidlines on Charitable Giving from the Bishops of North Dakota (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” -Matthew 6:2-4
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
Money. It is where the rubber meets the road in the Christian Life. It is perhaps the most true idol today that we might put in the place of God. We would not say that we have money as an idol, but what do our actions tell?
We can control and see the effects of prayer and fasting, but we do not have this advantage with almsgiving. We have no idea what will be done with our alms, or if we will have needed them ourselves, or if we should have given alms at all. We must TRUST GOD, and that is perhaps the hardest thing to do. But that is exactly what almsgiving is meant to help us to do.
“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and (money) mammon. Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13" [God has given us all, what do we give back to Him via the Church and the poor?]
This Lent we have been striving to embrace Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving to bring about true change in our lives. Add this final member of the triumvirate and let God change your heart and life into something wonderful you never even imaged!
Peace and prayers in Jesus through Mary, loved by Saint Joseph,
P.S. This coming Sunday is the Third Sunday of Lent. > Readings <
P.S.S. Outline of homily on Almsgiving is found at the end of this e-weekly.
*********LIVING SCRIPTURES BIBLE STUDY*********
This is from a past Bible Study I have done with parishes before. Either click or cut and paste in address line. (click below and be patient; each is a large audio file)
Eighteenth Session-The Passion Narratives of the Holy Gospels (Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23; John 18-19)– There are many similarities among them, but there are also many differences. Looking at the unique features of each Gospel, we only know some details because on one Gospel has told us. Which one tells us? Listen > Here <
*********LIVING SCRIPTURES BIBLE STUDY*********
almsgiving (from Greek eleEmOn “merciful”)
- something given freely in charity to assist those in need and to relieve the poor.
[Almsgiving, together with prayer and fasting, are traditionally recommended to foster the state of interior penance.]
by Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, D.D., Bishop Paul A. Zipfel
Catholics are compelled by the Gospel to responsibly promote the protection of human life, families, and the common good. We applaud the charitable giving and social justice efforts of our parishes, Catholic schools, and individuals. At the same time, we urge attentiveness to the possibility of endorsing an organization whose mission or affiliation may be morally objectionable or, at least, questionable. We call upon pastors, clergy, and the lay faithful to use guidelines based on the virtue of prudence and justice when making charitable giving decisions.
Church teaching: All human life is sacred and must be protected. This is why we should not support or endorse individuals and organizations that provide, promote, or advocate for abortion, contraception, “reproductive rights/ family planning,” or embryonic stem cell research. Marriage, a lifelong partnership between a man and a woman, is the foundation of the family and, therefore, essential to the common good. Accordingly, we should not support individuals and organizations that seek to redefine marriage or whose activities devalue its importance.
Guidelines: When evaluating the appropriateness of participating in, publicizing, or otherwise providing support to a fundraising effort, Catholic entities should consider whether the mission and activities of the organization are consistent with Catholic teaching, particularly as it pertains to human life and marriage. Church facilities should not be used to promote, endorse, or fundraise for such organizations if their policies are contrary to Church teaching.
We take this opportunity to mention certain organizations that Catholic entities should not support.
American Association of University Women: AAUW's stated mission is to advance “equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research” and often provides local scholarships with money raised through book fairs. AAUW, however, strongly supports abortion rights and same-sex “marriage,” and opposes parental choice in education.
Amnesty International: In 2007, Amnesty International abandoned its neutral stance on abortion and adopted a pro-abortion position.
Crop Walk/Church World Service: CROP Walk, an annual hunger awareness and fundraising effort that benefits many local food pantries, is sponsored by Church World Service (CWS), an agency of the National Council of Churches. Catholic Relief Services withdrew its name from the list of funding recipients since some of the partners of CWS support the provision of contraceptives in their overseas missions and programs and CRS could not guarantee that donations, particularly Catholic donors who have earmarked their contribution to those efforts consistent with Church teaching, would not be utilized for objectionable services.
March of Dimes: The March of Dimes' focus is the prevention of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. March of Dimes, however, also supports embryonic stem cell research, preimplantation diagnosis for untreatable conditions, and mandatory contraceptive coverage for insurance plans.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure: This anti-breast cancer organization is known for its “Race for the Cure” fundraising activities (not to be confused with “Relay for Life.”) Money raised at these events has gone to Planned Parenthood and the organization refuses to acknowledge the link between abortion and breast cancer.
UNICEF: The Holy See suspended an annual symbolic contribution in 1996 due to the “shift in UNICEF activities” that were once solely focused on child welfare but now includes contraceptive and abortion services.
†Most Rev. Paul A. Zipfel
Bishop of Bismarck
†Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila
Bishop of Fargo
Catechism of the Catholic Church #575
These are guidelines and suggestions to assist one in making a return to the Lord for all that He has given us. These tell the why and how of supporting the material needs of the Church which all Catholic are to do and of assist those in need.
By Elise Harris
Vatican City, Feb 26, 2016 / 05:02 am (EWTN News/CNA) - In his first children's book Pope Francis touches on a variety of both lighthearted and sensitive topics from war and solving the world’s conflicts, to Sunday school, miracles and his preference for tango.
When asked by 6-year-old Prajla from Albania if he liked to dance as a child, the Pope said he liked it “a lot! I liked to be together with other children, playing...dancing our typical dances from Argentina. I had a lot of fun.”
He told Prajla that as a teenager he liked to dance tango, and that for him, to dance “is to experience joy and happiness.”
“When someone is sad they can't dance. Generally kids have a big asset: being happy. And because of this when they are young they dance and express the joy in their heart,” he said, noting that “the people who can't experience joy in their heart are always serious.”
Because of this, the Pope told children to dance, “so that you aren't too serious when you are older!”
This is just one of the answers Pope Francis gave to the 30 children around the world who wrote to him with questions and drawings.
On March 1 Jesuit-run Loyola Press will release the book “Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World,” alongside Jesuit publishing houses in 11 other countries.
Eight children whose letters appear in the book, plus a few siblings, met with Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican Feb. 22 to present him with the Italian translation of the book, as well as all 259 letters collected for the project.
The Italian translation, “L'Amore Prima del Mondo,” is already available in bookstores.
A collection of 30 letters and drawings from children around the world aged 6-13, the book contains both questions from the youth, as well as Pope Francis' answers.
Pope Francis gave the project the official thumbs-up last May, when executives from Loyola Press traveled to Rome to pop the question on whether he would ever consider writing a children’s book.
Due to the Pope’s time constraints, he couldn't respond to all 259 letters, but was advised on which ones to select with the help of a special group of parents, grandparents, teachers, Jesuits, writers and children.
Letters included in the book come from across the globe, including countries such as Albania, Russia, China, Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines and a school for displaced children in Syria.
In the book Pope Francis answers questions simple, fun questions from the youth, as well as heart-wrenching questions from children in warring countries.
When asked by Mohamed, 10, from Syria if the world will ever be beautiful again like it was before, the Pope responded by pointing out how after he died and ascended into heaven, Jesus promised that he would return, and that when he does, “everything will be new: a new heaven, a new earth.”
Because of this, “the world now will not be like it was in the past,” Francis said, and lamented that there are “evil people” who produce and sell arms in order to make war, people who hate, and people who are so attached to money that they will “even sell other people” to get more.
Although “this is terrible,” the Pope stressed that “this suffering is destined to end, you know? It’s not forever. Suffering is lived with hope, despite everything.”
Similarly, when asked by Michael, 9, from Nigeria how to end the world’s conflicts, Francis said that war “is only the fruit of egoism and greed.”
While he acknowledged that he can’t solve all the world’s problems, Pope Francis told the youth that “you and I can try to make this land a better world.”
“You know conflict, I understand. But there is not a magic wand. Everyone must be convinced that the best way of winning a war is not to do it. It’s not easy. But I will try. You try too.”
On a more lighthearted note, the Pope answered questions surrounding his “tall hat” (his miter), miracles, Sunday school, how Jesus walked on water and what he would like to do to make the world a better place.
Ana Maria, 10, from Brazil asked the Pope why children needed to go to catechism classes. In response, Francis said simply: “Go to catechism to know Jesus better!”
“If you have a friend you like to be with them in order to know them better. You like to be with a friend to play together, to get to know their family, their life, where they were born, where they live.”
Catechism, he said, “helps you in this, to know your friend Jesus better and to know his big family which is the Church.”
When William, 7, from the U.S. asked him what miracle he would perform if he could, Pope Francis said he would “heal children,” and that he still hasn’t been able to understand why children suffer.
“I pray about this question: why do children suffer? It’s my heart that asks me the question,” he said, noting how Jesus himself cried, “and in crying he understood our dramas.”
“If I could do a miracle, I would heal all children,” he added, and told William that “I’m not afraid to cry. You shouldn’t be either.”
On a fun note, when Natasha, 8, from Kenya asked him how Jesus walked on water, the Pope jested, saying that Jesus “didn’t fly or do somersaults swimming,” but walked normally like he was on the ground.
Jesus walked “one foot after the other, also seeing the fish under his feet partying and swimming fast,” the Pope explained, adding that since Jesus is God, “he can do everything. He can also walk calmly on water. God doesn’t sink, you know?”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1438
Branch of ServiceOur elementary school was honoring local veterans. The students were a bit intimidated and didn’t know how to approach them.
"Start by introducing yourself,"
I said. "Then ask what branch of the military they served in."
One student walked over to a vet and promptly asked, "What tree are you from?"
Reasons Why People Think Catholics Are "Crazy"
- We like to keep Mass interesting. We sit, stand and kneel, in no particular order. Probably just to keep the blood flowing, but definitely to keep one from falling asleep.
- It's not merlot and Ritz they're serving; it's the Flesh and Blood of Jesus. No, really.
- Forget a big meal afterwards, just pick up some of the breakfast tacos, donuts, or baked goods they're always selling after Mass
- We sometimes slip out an Amen after the Pledge of Allegiance.
-Before entering the row of seats in the movie theater, we are tempted to genuflect.
- We all have 20 cousins. On each side of the family.
- Altar servers continue well into their twenties.
- Infant Baptism isn't dumb; it's after-life insurance.
- $5.00 in the collection basket is the epitome of generosity. Anything more than that, someone has hit the lottery.
- A missal is a book, not a weapon. However, it has been known to pull double duty.
- There are two very different, irreconcilable factions in every single church in the world. They are known as the Saturday or Sunday Mass bunch.
- The signs we make aren't just a mark of respect, they're a lot of fun to do.
- Whenever anyone in Star Wars saga says “May the Force Be With You”, we get the urge to say “And with your spirit”
- Mass is nearly unchanged after almost 2000 years. We’re a little stubborn.
- We really like statues. A lot!
- “Offer it up!” = “Quit complaining!” = The Catholic Motto
Prayer for Almsgiving
Blessed are you, God of all goodness! All I am and all I have come from You. Help me to trust You and to give freely and generously to Your Church and to those in need that I may allow You to bless me abundantly in this life and lead me one day to heaven to be with You and all who love You forever. Amen.
Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Almsgiving.
Almsgiving is something given freely in charity to assist those in need and to relieve the poor.
Luke 11:41 But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.
[Some of the St. Michael School students went to a Library. Carnegie Bldg.]
Why is almsgiving so important?
Prayer and Fasting we can do; We can see and know the results.
But with giving to others, especially with money, it all comes from God. So almsgiving involves trusting God. We do not know the results. Trust of God brought the Israelites from the miraculous manna from heaven to the real food of the Promised Land in the First Reading.
Money is an interesting thing. It can provide for all our physical needs, the problem is when we think it will take care of all our needs. We must be careful.
I Timothy 6:9-10 Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains
In Matthew and Luke (6:24; 16:13 respectively) 13 No servant can serve two masters. 8 He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and (money) mammon."
God or Love of Money?
Where do you spend your time?
How much for God?
How much for pursuit and use of money or what it can bring?
Tithing, Weekly Collection, Do I give to the poor?
Do I give to those in need? Do I support the needs of the Church?
Luke 12:33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
Do we provide treasure for ourselves in heaven, or are we living with this world in mind only?
Matthew 6:4 That your alms may be in secret: and thy Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly.
I do not know how much individuals give here at St. Michael, and I make it a point not to know. But I do know that Catholics are traditionally the poorest givers of all Christians. Roman Catholics who have been given the fullness of God and His Church are often the least to return it.
Do we have less now? Are things worse now?
Statistics show that Christians gave 3 times more during the depression than they do now.
We should give the first fruits of our labor to God, but sadly some of us take the meal for ourselves and leave God a tip like we would gladly pay for a meal, but leave just a dollar or two to the one who served it.
Some may say, well Father things cost more, we have debt. Well yes, our parents and grandparents in their day had debt, but they also knew all came from God and they always gave something to Him first. Even I have debt from college. But are you and making the changes of trust. God cannot bless us unless we open our hearts in trust to allow Him to bless us. We must put faith and trust in Him so that He can multiple good in us.
Here is the simple fact:
We give a little to God, He can only bless us a little.
We give a lot to God, He can bless us a lot.
I want to talk to those 50 years older and younger. Those older than this generally know everything they have comes from God and thus return to Him a generous portion. 50 and below especially near my generation, we are the ones who give some sort of tip but generally don’t pay the bill.
Concretely, I want you to look at how much you give each week or totally each year. Is it even 1% of your total income, and Yes before expenses. Remember St. Paul said to you and me this morning in the Second Reading. “All comes from God.” 1% is the bare bones minimum in return to God. The Catholic who is able, and that is most of us, should strive for 3-5%.
Try to add $2-3 dollars more per week. Or add 1% more than you currently give in a year. Try to make on a weekly regular basis. I know with farming and other occupations that you have the seasons and times when money is coming in and going out, but we need to try to keep weekly so that our trust of God is constant even in thin times and thick.
I can testify to this, I used to be a tipper, but as I prayed and prepared to be a priest, I recognized the Lord calling me to trust Him more. I have been giving 5% to the parish I serve and 5% to the poor. I have never been in need from the time doing this.
Now be prudent, if you only have money to buy food for tomorrow, seek assistance. But unless you do not have a penny to your name, all of us can give at least something as the poor widow did whom Jesus praised.
I John 3:17 If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?
I Peter 4:8 “charity covers a multitude of sins”
You and I MUST change where we put our money and our trust. The Bulletin has practical saving techniques. Then you and I, especially 50 yrs and under, must put God first by changing what you give back to Him starting today, this week, and into the future.
God has given us all as did the father in today’s Gospel. What do you and I give?
Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church #1032