Prayers for Our Beloved Dead

ALL SOULS NOVENA
The Church of St. Robert of Newminster
November 1 — 9, 2014

Our prayers during these nine days will certainly be expressions of sorrow and mourning, but they also
will be prayers of gratitude for the many blessings each of us has received through the life of those we
have loved and whom we remember in our Novena prayers.


Almighty God and Father,
it is our certain faith that your Son,
who died on the cross and
was raised from the dead, is
the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.
Grant that through this mystery
your servants, who have gone to their rest in Christ,
may share in the joy of his resurrection.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

God of loving kindness,
Listen favorably to our prayers.
Strengthen our belief
that your Son was raised from the dead;
He is our hope I
that our departed brothers and sisters will also rise again.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

It Is in Loving That We Find Meaning In Our Own Lives; Therefore, Let Us Love Until It Hurts – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for October 26

SR Letterhead LogoHave you ever in your life being given credit or praise you thought you didn’t deserve? Years ago there was a movie about a seven year-old boy who went to live with his grandfather, a wealthy man who had many people working under him.

The old man was basically selfish and mean. But the little boy idolized him so much that he couldn’t see this. He thought his grandpa was generous and kind. Over and over he would say to him, “Grandpa! How people must love you! I’ll bet they love you almost as much as I do.”

The little boy’s love gradually softens the old man’s heart, and he became the kind of person his grandson thinks him to be. This story is like a parable of Jesus. It shows how his love for us can change us and give us the power to become the kind of loving people he sees we can be.

“Love one another, just as I love you” (John 15:12). Love is at the heart of Jesus’ teaching and his life. And of all the deeds in Jesus’ life, none is more expressive of his love than the crucifixion.

Last Sunday we heard in the gospel that you should give Caesar what belong to Caesar, and to God what belong to God. Keeping in mind all that we have belongs to God, therefore we too belong to him.

In today’s Gospel we hear: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  How does this apply to us in today’s life?

Loving God and neighbor must be the fundamental precepts of our lives. Once Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said; “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Jesus invites us to love others as he loves us. It helps us discover that our love is valuable when we share it with others.

Sometimes the smallest things that often go unnoticed make the biggest impact. Tell your co-worker good morning, smile, compliment your child, spouse, friend etc., hug a parent, or say thank you. Just for this week, let us make an impact on someone.

Lord, teach us to love you, as you deserve; teach us to love others, as you love us; teach us to love, even when it hurts to love. For it is in loving that we give glory to you. It is in loving that we give happiness to others. And it is in loving that we find meaning in our own lives.

We Christians Have A Dual Citizenship – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for October 19

SR Letterhead LogoA young man went to test an old wise man, who was blind. He was holding a butterfly on his palm, and he said to him; “Is the butterfly I am holding dead or alive?” The wise man with his wisdom said; “If I tell you it is dead, you will set it free, if I tell you it is alive, you with crush it.” In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus being asked the same kind of question Jesus by the Herodians and the Pharisees: “Is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?”

Jesus hints at the answer when he says to them, “You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me?” Herodians were members of Herod’s party and were staunch supporters of Rome’s right to tax the Jewish population. Pharisees, on the other hand, opposed the tax but paid it anyway to avoid political confrontation with Rome.

No matter how Jesus answered the question, he would end up alienating one of the groups, or so the Herodians and the Pharisees thought. As it turned out, the silver coin bearing Caesar’s image gave Jesus an ideal way to answer their question, for to possess a Roman coin was to admit a Roman obligation.

When they produced the coin, Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what belongs to God.” We Christians have a dual citizenship of the world and heaven. We have obligations toward each which we much respect and honor. It is hoped that our dual citizenship and the obligations we have to each will never clash, but if they ever do, we as Christians must resolve the conflict.

Because we bear God’s image and likeness by our very creation, inscribed with the name of the Holy Trinity in Baptism and sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, our heart, soul, values, moral judgments, and our ultimate allegiance, belong to God. For one who belongs totally to God, no part of life is strictly “sacred” or “secular.” Everything, everyone is God’s. Geared to orient to us to the Gospel, God proclaims through Isaiah: “I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me” (Isaiah 45:5). Indeed, God calls even the pagan King Cyrus Messiah, “my anointed,” though Cyrus neither knew the God of Israel nor believed in the God of Israel. God twice acknowledges: “You know me not” (45:1, 5). Still, this pagan carries out God’s saving plan.

We close revisiting Fred Zimmermann’s masterful film of Robert Bolt’s play, A Man for All Seasons. If anyone ever epitomized “giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar and giving God what belongs to God,” Saint Thomas More—husband and father, disciple and statesman—was such a person, and witness (in Greek, martyr). There was no stronger defender of the need for the State’s just laws and legitimate power to serve the common good. More saw our call, in God’s image and likeness, to serve God in the State. More declares that, however, he is “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” For the forthcoming elections, let us all exercise our right to vote, to make a better State and making this world a better place to live.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Peter Patrick

God Wants Heaven to Be Filled – Father Peter Patrick’s Homily for October 12

SR Letterhead LogoGod wants heaven to be filled — He wants you, me and others not here but there!

Jesus was sent to save the house of Israel. There are the invited guests who accepted it, but later turned down the invitation as we hear in today’s gospel. It is clear how Jesus’ parable applied to the Jews of his day. But how does it apply to us today?  What message does it contain for you and me?  What is Jesus saying to us through it?

The parable says one man decided to work on his farm instead. Another decided to attend to other business. These men didn’t go off to get drunk. They didn’t decide to commit a crime, they simply decided to do something else. This takes us to the basics. We, too, have accepted God’s invitation. We accepted baptism and confirmation. We said yes to God’s invitation to be his guests at the eternal banquet.

But saying yes to God’s invitation is not a one-time commitment. It’s an ongoing process. Saying yes to God’s invitation requires constant recommitment and updating.  It’s so easy to get distracted by daily life activities and to forget about our spiritual life. God’s invitation is like the “I do” of marriage. The “I do” is not the end of a process, but the beginning of one. Saying yes to God is like graduating from college, graduation is not the end of one’s learning, but the launching pad for further learning. Our commitment to God must grow too. If it doesn’t, it can atrophy and die, like an unused muscle.

Take the Eucharist we are attending right now. Does it mean more to us today than it did a year ago? If not, why not?   Or take the word of God, do we try to listen to it attentively and apply it to our daily life, or do we listen to it, file it away in our mind, and forget all about it when we leave Mass? There is a story being told which can also help us to renew our commitment to follow Christ. An old Jew came up to a rabbi and said; “Rabbi, I have just read through the entire Bible for the fifth time in my life.” The Rabbi looked at the old Jew and said, “The important thing is not how many times you’ve been through the bible, but how many times the bible has been through you.”

Every time we attend Mass, we renew our commitment to the Lord by accepting the invitation to follow him: By hearing the word of God and receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us become what we receive, and in doing so, we will be like those servants who were sent to go invite other people to the banquet. God wants heaven to be filled — He wants you and me and others not here, but there in heaven!

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Peter Patrick

The Invited – Father Dennis’ Homily for October 12

SR Letterhead LogoIf Queen Elizabeth of England would invite you and your family to a royal banquet in honor of her great grandson George, would you turn her down because it was the weekend you were going to check out a cottage you want to buy in northern Wisconsin? Knowing that she is going to cover the cost of the trip, would you turn her down because your favorite singer is having a concert in town that same weekend? Would you turn down a-once-in-a-lifetime experience for something mundane? This is exactly what the invited guests in the parable we have just heard did. They turn down an invitation to a royal banquet for some pretty mundane reasons.

Heaven is often described as a royal banquet. St. Augustine referred to it as an everlasting festivity in the house of God. St. Jerome spoke about it as an eternal festival. We don’t have to wait to receive an invitation because we have already been invited. This is better than a-once-in-a-lifetime experience of being invited by Queen Elizabeth to her banquet. This is once-in-eternity experience. God wants heaven to be filled and He wants us there. Getting there is up to us.

First, we have to say “yes” to God’s invitation. This “yes” is a deliberate, intentional, personal response to God. It means putting God first. We will know if He is the top priority in our lives by answering the following question. If we would spend as much time with our spouse or best friend as we do with God, where would our relationship be today?

Second, we have to make sure we have the right garment on in order to be at the heavenly banquet. This garment will not be found at our favorite clothing store. No. It will be found in the Bible. The Bible will give us the directions for how to knit the proper garment needed for the eternal festival. This garment, in the words of Pope Francis, is like mysterium lunae—the mystery of the moon is that it has no light but simply reflects the light of the sun. This garment reflects the light of Jesus Christ because it is made from compassion, meekness, righteousness, mercy, harmony and other centeredness. This garment is not made in a day. It takes a lifetime to make this garment.

Everyone is invited to the heavenly banquet, but only a few choose to respond to the invitation. The few are the ones who take the time to make the proper garment for the banquet. It doesn’t matter where you are on the spiritual journey; you can start right now responding to God’s invitation. Remember you have only this lifetime to respond to the invitation and you want to leave this life with the proper garment. St. Paul, in our second reading from his letter to the Philippians, states, “God will fully supply whatever you need (Philippians 4:19).” Not only does God extend the invitation, but will supply whatever we need to respond to it.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Fr. Dennis

Intentional Discipleship and Religious Education

SR Letterhead LogoBecoming an intentional disciple of Christ, and developing a personal relationship with Him, begins early. That is why St. Robert Parish invests time, talent and treasure in religious education. In our Parish, Gail DeFrancisco, Director of Religious Education, leads the ministry. Gail described the challenges and successes of the Religious Education program in a recent interview.

The Religious Education program serves about 100 students through the 8th grade. Activities include Vacation Bible School, which is held in early August, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, and faith formation classes. Information on these activities and more can be found on the Parish website at http://www.strobert.org/Light_0043/Religious_Education_0080.html.

Faith instruction is the central element of the program. Religious Education classes for children in K5 through 8th grade begin September 21, last through the end of April, and run for an hour between the Sunday morning Masses. However, faith formation is more than just classroom instruction, and the program at St. Robert is based on the principle that disciples live their faith 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each grade is involved in an outreach of their choice to bring Jesus alive to others. Thus, there are a variety of outreach projects associated with the classroom learning, including the House of Peace; holiday food boxes, and collection of pull tabs for Ronald McDonald House. These provide children an opportunity to implement what they are taught, which can be much more effective than book learning.

The principle that Catholicism is lived, not merely studied, is carried through to the classroom. For example, children learn about the lives of the saints, that is, how those saints practiced their own discipleship. Each grade learns a saint each year, and, to provide a broad perspective on Catholic spirituality, students must study a saint whose life had not been studied by previous students. The product is a series of posters that are displayed in the church throughout November.

For younger children, the Parish offers the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. It is a Montessori approach to the religious formation of children.  Children work with the materials to help them ponder scripture, the liturgy and nourish their relationship with God. The Catechesis is offered Parish-wide to three- and four-year-olds. As with the Religious Education classes, the Catechesis is offered from September through April between the Sunday Masses, to minimize the demands on family schedules.

The Children’s Liturgy of the Word is another important element of Religious Education. Children’s Liturgy is offered throughout the school year, to children in grades K5 through 2nd, during the 11:00 a.m. Mass. Children are led from church after the Opening Prayer, to the basement meeting room, where they listen to the Word of God spoken terms that are understandable at their age. They return to church during the Presentation of the Gifts.

One of the chief successes of the Religious Education program has been the enthusiasm of the children. For instance, Gail noted that during the Liturgy of the Word, the general intercessions come from the children’s hearts, and while they may be humorous at times, they are very dear to them. Another success is the enthusiasm that the program has generated among the catechists: “It’s a joy, not a job.” Parish teachers are fully engaged in their mission, and some develop a rapport with the children by staying with them as they progress through the grades. (The first group of catechists is just now getting to the point where they are ready to start with a new group of children.)

In this context, “joy” is an appropriate word, and its source is no doubt related to an observation made on the origin of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (http://www.cgsusa.org/about/history.aspx): “She [Sofia Cavalletti, a founder of the Catechesis] saw in that child and in numerous other children since, a way of being in the presence of God that is both unique to the child and a gift to the adult who stops long enough to notice.”

While the Religious Education program has been growing, the biggest challenge currently is to sustain the growth, by providing adult support for catechesis. Leaders for the Children’s Liturgy are very much needed. If you have considered participating in a Religious Education ministry, be assured that both you and the children will benefit.

There are many other ways in which adult parishioners could also contribute. One example is service on the Religious Education Committee, which works to coordinate the objectives and activities of children’s, youth and adult education. One does not need to have a child to be a member of the Religious Education Committee, or to serve in any of the Religious Education ministries.

At the least, parents can support religious education by taking interest in what their children are learning, and by modeling it in their own lives. Religious education is a process in which the children of the Parish come to know and love God. It is done in various ways, and the example of parents is one of the most effective. It benefits everyone, for as Jesus said:

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matt 19:14).”

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 If you would like more information on Religious Education activities, either to enroll your children or to serve as a catechist, please contact Gail DeFrancisco at the Holy Family Parish office, 414-332-8156. Gail also leads other ministries, including the Prayer Shawl Ministry and the Separated and Divorced Ministry, which will be the subjects of future articles.