Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2nd Sunday of Lent

“Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

Peter gives us a beautiful example of gratitude, perhaps the most important aspect of Christian prayer. Gratitude is necessary for growth in the Christian life and gratitude directs us towards God. In gratitude, we remember that we have received from Go and are able to give back to him what we have received. We also call this stewardship. Since God is God and we are His creatures, then everything we have is received from Him and His goodness. When we realize that and live within that total and complete gift of God, we are able to give generously back to Him.

Peter realizes that he is at a unique and beautiful moment. Jesus appears in the glory that is proper to Him as the only Son of God. Though it takes Peter a while to wake up and realize what is happening, he soon does and has the spontaneous response of gratitude.

There are three basic ways for us to express our own gratitude: in our time, our talent, and our treasure. Fancy alliteration, huh? Simply attending Mass is hopefully a conscious act of gratitude, giving to our Lord this time because he has given life to you. People lead music at Mass because God has first blessed them. Yesterday, Derek cleaned out the Sacristy because he was grateful for what God has done for him.

Finally, we express our gratitude to God through financial support. Each year, Bishop Swain asks us to reflect on what God has given us and make a return to Him through the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal. CFSA supports Bishop’s different efforts throughout the diocese, including the Newman Center. In fact, we couldn’t be here without generosity from other people’s CFSA collections. I know you don’t have much money: you’re in college. I’d rather you study than work right now. But it is still good for us to learn gratitude by giving how we can. We have a goal for us of $1200 and I think we can do it.

Now, we’ll listen to Bishop’s message:
“This is Bishop Paul Swain.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The day I prepared this message it snowed. The day I recorded this message it snowed. In between I traveled from north to south of the diocese over icy roads through fog and sleet. This has been quite the winter. I know many of you have had a rough go with fields inaccessible, roads closed, power out and plans disrupted. That of course is part of living in South Dakota, a gift we would not trade. Yet, we will truly welcome spring this year.

The weather and the other challenges of our day, especially the economic uncertainty, can get us down and encourage us to turn in on ourselves. A better response would be to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. The theme for the Catholic Family Sharing Appeal this year is “Blessed are you.” As we reflect on the devastating impact of the earthquake in Haiti, and the fear from war and terror in which so many live, to name a few crosses, we have much about which to be grateful. Yet there are many in our own midst who suffer in public and private ways. They need our encouragement, our support and our helping hand.

One way to do so is by supporting the ministries of the diocese. These programs and the talented people who offer them reach out to both parish life and personal lives. They make available to people of all ages in all parts of the diocese spiritual, sacramental and educational opportunities. Our ministries encourage healthy family life through marriage preparation and marriage renewal, Natural Family Planning, adoption services, post abortion support and other pro-family and pro-life programs. Faith Formation helps adults understand what the Church teaches and why, allowing a deepening relationship with Christ, and teenagers to be hope-filled and seek Christ in their lives. Newman Centers offer a home away from home for college students. Chaplaincies in hospitals and prisons minister to the lonely and the anxious.

CFSA allows the Bishops Bulletin and the TV Mass, which are sources of consolation and education, to be available in all homes without personal cost. The Vocations office supports our seminarians and encourages men and women to discover what God wants for them in their lives. These are a few of the ministries you have supported over the years. Their need to continue is even greater in this day of wonder and wonderment.

You will soon receive a letter from me with a pledge card which you can return to your parish. Please prayerfully consider supporting this year’s Catholic Family Sharing Appeal. Your generosity in the past has been inspiring. Blessed are you and blessed will you be for your generosity this year.

Thank you for listening to this message. May God bless you, Our Lady watch over you, and St. Joseph guard you and those you love.

Be careful out there. And be assured, spring will come, the light will shine.

Give praise to the Lord.

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