- Reasons Why People Think Catholics Are "Crazy" (A bit of humor… [the smiling cat])
- Did St. Joseph Build This Miraculous Chapel Staircase: Here is the Mysterious Legend (Diocesan News and BEYOND)
- Guidlines on Charitable Giving from the Bishops of North Dakota (Helpful Hints for Life)
Receiving the Gospel, Serving God and Neighbor
Prayer, Fasting, and ALMSGIVING
“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
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
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 below:
Passion Narratives of the Holy Gospels
*********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.]
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
“Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a "sign of contradiction", but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply "the Jews", than for the ordinary People of God. To be sure, Christ's relations with the Pharisees were not exclusively polemical. Some Pharisees warn him of the danger he was courting; Jesus praises some of them, like the scribe of Mark 12:34, and dines several times at their homes. Jesus endorses some of the teachings imparted by this religious elite of God's people: the resurrection of the dead, certain forms of piety (almsgiving, fasting and prayer), the custom of addressing God as Father, and the centrality of the commandment to love God and neighbor.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church #575
Catholic Principals of Tithing
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.
In 1850, Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, saw a need for Catholic girls’ education in his area, so he sent requests to religious Catholic teaching orders. The Sisters of Loretto responded to this call.
In 1853, the Sisters of Loretto opened a school for girls in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Twenty years later, they finally were able to hire the same architect as the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. He designed the sisters a beautiful, gothic-style chapel, then known as the Chapel of Our Lady of Light. It is now the Chapel of Loretto.
However, the architect died before building access to the choir loft.
Due to little space, they concluded that a staircase would take up too much room, therefore, minimizing seating.
Legend says the sisters then invoked St. Joseph the Carpenter’s intercession through a novena. On the ninth day, a mysterious man looking for work arrived on their doorstep with only donkey, a hammer and a carpenter’s square.
According to the Loretto Chapel’s official website, the man only used “simple tools and wooden pegs. The rare wood is not native to the American Southwest.” They know he used a type of spruce wood, but no one knows where it came from or how the carpenter got it.
Legend also says that while building the staircase over the course of three months, no one saw him enter or leave the chapel. Once he completed it, he disappeared without payment or a thank you.
The sisters also contacted lumber stores in the area, but were unable to retrieve any open accounts for the supplies he supposedly purchased.
“The banisters were added approximately ten years later due to the difficulty of climbing the tall, tapered stairs with no railing.
“The two small brackets that can be seen on the outside connecting the stairs to the wall and pillar were added in the mid 20th century in order to provide more support and protect the staircase from negative effects due to vibrations from passing cars and trucks.
“Unfortunately, rather than helping the structural integrity of the staircase, the modern brackets damaged the sides of it by preventing the natural spring-like movement of the staircase while in use. The underside of the stairs were originally open, but was filled in with a horse hair and lime mixture painted to look like wood.”
The website also says that some believe that St. Joseph built this amazing structure. Others believe St. Joseph sent someone to do it. The website adds that the staircase still “perplexes experts today.”
Either way though, this mystery is a miracle!
By Elise Harris
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
- “I don’t have a big gut. I have a protective covering for my rock hard abs.”
- “I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and I think, ‘Well, that’s not going to happen.'”
- “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
- “I have a lot of growing up to do. I realized that the other day inside my fort.”
CommandmentsWhen I asked my friend if she was planning to attend church, she just shook her head. "I haven’t gone in a long time," she said. "Besides, it’s too late for me. I’ve probably already broken all seven commandments."
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
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?
“This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:
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
SUNDAY MASS READINGS AND QUESTIONS
for Self-Reflection, Couples or Family Discussion
The Third Sunday of Lent - March 23rd, 2019
The First Reading- Exodus 3: 1-8A, 13-15
Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers,” he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. “This is my name forever; thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”
In the Church, we are made children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God who makes known His name and His ways to Moses in today’s First Reading. Mindful of His covenant with Abraham (see Exodus 2:24), God came down to rescue His people from the slave drivers of Egypt. Faithful to that same covenant (see Luke 1:54–55, 72–73), He sent Jesus to redeem all lives from destruction, as today’s Psalm tells us.
Adults - Has God ever asked something of you that makes you uncomfortable?
Teens - Sometimes we feel incapable of doing the things God asks of us, but He will give us the strength and tools we need, just like He did for Moses. What might God be calling you to, that challenges you?
Kids - Say a prayer that God will help you do the hard things that come your way this week.
Responsorial- Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
R.The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice
and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
-Where do you see reflections of God’s kindness and mercy in the world?
The Second Reading- 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come.
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.
Paul says in today’s Epistle that God’s saving deeds in the Exodus were written down for the Church, intended as a prelude and foreshadowing of our own Baptism by water, our liberation from sin, our feeding with spiritual food and drink. Yet the events of the Exodus were also given as a “warning”—that being children of Abraham is no guarantee that we will reach the promised land of our salvation. At any moment, Jesus warns in today’s Gospel, we could perish—not as God’s punishment for being “greater sinners”—but because, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we stumble into evil desires, fall into grumbling, forget all His benefits.
Make an effort to be intentionally thankful for this Lent. Try to focus on the positive things and overlook the negative as best you can.
giving. 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.