July 9, 2017

I.  End of Our Fiscal Year July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017: The mission of St. Stephen Cathedral Parish could not continue without your generosity of Time, Talent, and Treasure. Giving back makes no sense without faith–believing that everything we have and are is a true gift from our Creator.  True generosity is an offering:  given freely without expectation and without  strings attached. Giving of your resources of time, gifts, and treasure in the spirit of love cannot be measured.  As we close out this past fiscal year in the black, I want to thank you; I am edified and grateful for generous giving and your tithing. We always have a wish list at the end of each fiscal year and this year we were able to accomplish several items on that list. Your continuous support is appreciated. I want to thank our Finance Committee, Tom Neal (chair), Joe Connor, Jim Tony Fulkerson, Bill Goetz, Joyce Gruenewald, Ed Cecil, Christine Henning. John Kurtz, Lottie Miller (former council liaison), Chris Warren (vice-chair), who work with our Business Manager, Eddy McFarland, who is doing a super job for our parish.  I’d like to thank Nancy Hendricks who recently stepped down from our Committee. She served several years o this vital committee. St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians fits us, “Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9: 7). Thank You!

II.  Care for our Common Home: Two years ago, on June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” (Laudato Si’), addressing ecology and the need to safeguard the environment. Other popes, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI, have also spoken out on the importance of environmental stewardship, but Pope Francis broke new ground by elevating this aspect of the Church’s social teaching to the topic of an encyclical.

Recently Pope Francis said, “The only future worth building is one that includes everyone.”  Laudato Si’ is about all people sharing a common home, not just environmental stewardship, important though that is. While there are some skeptics, 97% of the active scientist say climate change is for real, and it is caused by human activity, and must be addressed. Especially young people challenge that we go beyond the immediacy of what we consider to be a benefit and consider long-term benefits, for their children and grandchildren.

III.  Communion to the Sick: What a privilege and honor to visit and take Jesus in Holy Communion to our parishioners who are homebound, in nursing homes. and the hospital.  I want to thank Fr. Jamie Dennis, who is responsible for this most important ministry, and our Ministers of Care: Kate Abney, Chona Curry, Sue Gough, Sr. Consolata, OSF, Laurie Hicks, Mary Ann O’Bryan, Ignatius Payne, Theresa Ray, Cissy Sullivan, Mary Alice Wethington, Cindy Bornander, Terry Brown, Danny Payne along with Donna Murphy, our seminarian, Corey Bruns, and myself.  Whether they go on Friday or Sunday, I thank our Ministers of Care who connect our sick and homebound to our Eucharistic Community.  They are so appreciative and look forward to this event. This is a wonderful ministry, and If anyone would like join in this outreach ministry of “being” and taking Jesus “under the form of bread” to others in their time of need, please contact Fr. Jamie, me, or call Beni Howell at the office. You will have the needed training and go with another Minister of Care the first few times. We could use a few more parishioners in this very fulfilling ministry.

IV.  Young Adult Gathering: There will be a gathering of young adults on Monday, July, 10, beginning with Holy Hour at 5:30pm, followed by a social time with eats and drinks. Bring a dish to share and bring afriend!

V. Founder of Western Monasticism:  St. Benedict:  Saddened by the immoral state of society, Benedict of Nursia (480-553/7) left the city to live as a hermit in Subiaco, Italy. In time, more and more men were attracted to his charismatic personality as well as to his way of life. He eventually moved a group of monks to Monte Casino,  near Naples, where he completed the first version of his rule, now known as The Rule of Benedict. The rule asserts that the primary occupation of the monk is to pray the Divine Office in tandem with a vowed life of stability, obedience, and conversion. The whole of the monastic vocation can be summarized in the opening lines of his rule, “Listen carefully.” Because Abbot Benedict was tough on his monks in calling them to conversion, some of the monks tried to murder him by putting poison in his drink; their plot was foiled when their Abbot made the sign of the cross over the cup, which then broke. Needless to say, he didn’t hang around there much, but went on to found thirteen monasteries. When I visit the Abbey of Gethsemani, etched in stone at the guesthouse entrance is the Benedictine charism, “Welcome others as Christ”.  As we celebrate the life of Benedict, let’s not forget the liqueurs, wines, and beers which became part of the monks’  livelihood and tradition. To this day, Benedictine & Brandy (B & B) outsells Benedictine by 9 to1 in the America.  St. Benedict, pray for us!

VI.  Jesus the Healer: This weekend at all our Masses, we experienced how Jesus extends His mighty healing through the Anointing of the Sick.  This amazing Sacrament has demonstrated to me time and time again how Jesus supports, lifts up, strengthens, and heals those who are sick, facing surgery, struggling with serious illness and the process of aging,  In today’s gospel Jesus invites,  “Come to me, all you who are weary and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mathew 11: 29-30). How awesome that we have a God who is ready to listen to us, who walks with us, and desires to help shoulder our crosses. He has never promised to take away our crosses, but has promised to help us carry them, if we trust enough to allow Him. Pray for those anointed this weekend. Do not underestimate how God can work through those in the healthcare professions, and how God can work through you to help bring about healing and easing the burdens of others.