ADVENT IS HERE—HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Happy New Year everyone!! Please note that I have not misplaced my calendar and am correct in saying this—Advent marks the Church’s new liturgical year. Last Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, in which we honour Jesus as Lord and Master of our hearts and the entire universe. What a powerful feast to conclude our Church year.
Advent starts us on the journey of faith once again beginning with the story of the Word made flesh, who breaks into history to save us from sin and death, showing us the true path of holiness to be lived out each day. It is our hope that once again this year, we seek to draw closer to Christ and become more like Him so that the world can encounter Jesus through each of us!
Advent is a time for us to make straight the pathways for the Lord opening our hearts and setting Jesus at the centre of our lives. It is a time for us to look back at the birth of our Saviour and celebrate the sacrifice of his love for us. Advent is a time for us to make Jesus present today in our own personal lives by practicing our faith and offering ourselves in loving service to those who are in need. It is also a time to look to the future, when Christ returns in all His glory to bring us home to the kingdom. Are we ready? Are we helping the world prepare for the love of Jesus today and for tomorrow?
THE GAME PLAN PART II—A FAMILY IN MOTION
This weekend I conclude my latest four homily message series that reflects on the way we will slowly implement our new pastoral vision for our family of parishes. We are living in a very different world which requires a different strategy, emphasis and approach so that we can fulfill our mission of forming disciples who reach out to all.
This shift will take time and require patience, openness, involvement and support from each of us for the sake of sharing the Good News with everyone in the Chatham area (Catholic and non-Catholic)—shining the light of Christ’s love especially with those who are lost, forgotten and in need.
In PART ONE of this message series I spoke about two major pillars for us as a family of parishes. Our focus will be concentrated on two major efforts. The first is to form disciples who love and know Jesus placing Him at the centre of their lives. This is priority number one and necessary if we are going to serve Him by serving others. We come to church not just to fulfill our Sunday obligation but to be formed, inspired, empowered and sent out by Jesus to bring light and healing to the world.
The second major effort is to live out the gospel by reaching out to all. Our faith is not a spectator sport in which we sit in the stands or the sidelines watching others. Through the gift of our baptism, Jesus chooses each of us to enter into the game as members of His team to bring hope to the world. All of us have gifts to share.
In part two of THE GAME PLAN message series I have focused on setting this pastoral vision in motion over a four year period that will help us modify, adapt and enhance ministries, programs and outreach in line with forming disciples who reach out to all. I have used the analogy of placing four new tires on our family of parishes to set us in motion along the highway to heaven.
The first wheel is a year of WELCOME & FAMILY where we look to reconnect with one another as a faith community seeking to establish and re-establish opportunities to socialize and get to know one another while inviting others to join us! (movie nights, parish breakfasts, Good Place Café, Advent Family Hayride)
The second wheel is a year of PRAYER & CONVERSION where we look to deepen our relationship with Christ who transforms our lives. The only way we can become true disciples is to fall in love with Jesus. This year will focus on prayer moments to open our hearts to the Lord. (TED retreats, holy hours, Faithcation, Advent/Lent retreats, missions, novenas)
The third wheel is a year of reflection on the GIFTS & CALL in our lives. God has empowered us with unique talents and abilities and has offered us opportunities to share our lives with others. I preached on this last weekend. Where is God calling us to be His disciples? This year will be focused on ways to reflect, hear and listen to God’s call in our lives. (discernment series, identifying gifts/talents)
This weekend I reflect on the last wheel. This is a year of WITNESS & SERVICE. After getting to know one another, deepening our relationship with Christ and knowing how God is calling us—we then need to act. This year will focus on outreach and service to all those who are in need. (St. Vincent de Paul, Caring Kitchen, Soup Kitchen, reaching those in need more!)