News Category: In Step with the Readings

Why do we do that? Catholic Life Explained

Lighting Candles in Church

Question: Why do Catholics light candles in church?

Answer: Candles have been part of the Church’s worship from the earliest times. In the days before electricity, candles and oil lamps were the ways that people lighted buildings. Even today, we often still depend on candles during power outages, relying on their flickering flames to bring light into the dark.

Like our ancestors, we also light candles on special occasions. Think about a festive family meal or a romantic dinner for two — there will often be candles on the table, special objects for a special event. We light candles on birthday cakes and carry them in processions. We also place candles at makeshift memorials that appear when there has been an accident or act of violence. In these moments, their light casts aside a different kind of darkness — the darkness of grief, fear, and death.

The custom of the early Christians lighting candles and lamps at the tombs of the martyrs gave way to the practice of having candles at Mass, honoring the sacredness of the celebration.

As Christians decorated their worship spaces with statues and icons, they would burn candles in front of sacred images and the relics of the saints, basically “shining a light” on what they held to be sacred. When pilgrims would visit these shrines, they would often bring candles to light before the image or relic. These candles came to be a symbol of the person, and their prayer and the burning these candles came to be understood as an extension and continuation of the prayer that was offered. What began as a practical way to provide light has come to be a symbol of the hopes, desires, loves, losses, fears, and faith of everyday Christians offering their prayers to God and his saints.

©LPi

Everyday Stewardship ~ Recognize God in Your Ordinary Moments

What’s in it for me?

I think we’ve all been guilty of looking at a situation and wondering what’s in it for us. It doesn’t matter if it’s a particular work assignment, someone at the parish asking for help with the mission trip bake sale, or your spouse asking if you’ll take over the grocery shopping this week. Often, our first reaction to one of these requests is a heavy sigh and the thought: “If I do this, what will I get?”

Sometimes it surprises us to realize that the Apostles were no different. We tend to idolize these contemporaries of Christ as giants who walked with the Savior. But in reality, these individuals were merely human beings struggling to commit to the task of everyday stewardship.

In the Gospels, we see glimpses of them longing for praise and affirmation. We see them jockeying for positions of power within the group of twelve. We see them expect earthly rewards like honor and admiration. We see them acting a lot like us.

But in the end, we see them transformed by the grace of God. Like all the saints, their holiness stems from their commitment to their call. They stumble through, and as they stumble, they keep trusting God. They keep turning to Him. They keep asking for help. They don’t give up just because they keep failing at it.

We are defined by what we give when we have no hope of being reimbursed, rewarded, or recognized. The Apostles understood this, eventually, and they gave accordingly. Most of them gave their very lives.

Remember, they’re just like us. If they can do it, we can too.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

LA CORRESPONSABILIDAD DIARIA ~ RECONOCER A DIOS EN LOS MOMENTOS ORDINARIOS (Everyday Stewardship)

¿Qué hay para mi? 

Creo que todos hemos sido culpables de mirar una situación y preguntarnos qué hay para nosotros. No importa si se trata de una asignación particular de trabajo, alguien en la parroquia que pide ayuda con la venta de pasteles para el viaje misionero o tu cónyuge preguntándote si te puedes hacer cargo de la compra de comestibles esta semana. A menudo, nuestra primera reacción a una de estas solicitudes es un suspiro profundo y el pensamiento: “Si hago esto, ¿qué obtendré?”

A veces nos sorprende darnos cuenta de que los Apóstoles no fueron diferentes. Tendemos a idolatrar a estos contemporáneos de Cristo como gigantes que caminaron con el Salvador. Pero en realidad, estos individuos eran simplemente seres humanos que luchaban por comprometerse con la tarea de la corresponsabilidad diaria.

En los Evangelios, tenemos vistazos de ellos anhelando elogios y afirmación. Los vemos compitiendo por posiciones de poder dentro del grupo de los doce. Los vemos esperar recompensas terrenales como el honor y la admiración. Los vemos actuando mucho como nosotros.

Pero al final, los vemos transformados por la gracia de Dios. Como todos los santos, su santidad proviene de su compromiso con su llamado. Ellos tropiezan, y mientras tropiezan, siguen confiando en Dios. Siguen volviéndose hacia Él. Siguen pidiendo ayuda. No se rinden solo porque siguen fallando.

Nos define lo que damos cuando no tenemos ninguna esperanza de ser reembolsados, recompensados ​​o reconocidos. Los Apóstoles entendieron esto, eventualmente, y dieron correspondientemente. La mayoría de ellos dio su propia vida.

Recuerda, ellos son como nosotros. Si ellos pueden hacerlo, nosotros también podemos.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

Live the Liturgy ~ Inspiration for the Week

It’s the positions of power and great authority that people often admire. We equate success with six figure incomes, high positions, management, and influence. We even go above and beyond to find favor with our bosses so that we can get a little extra recognition and maybe the next promotion when it comes up. This is the way of the world. Those who have their values set on earthly things are going to work by earthly rules. We forget that it doesn’t work that way in the Kingdom of God. Success is measured not from the place of status, influence, or prestige but from the place of humility, service, and sacrifice. The authority that one hopes to achieve is not an authority over others but an authority that comes from wisdom and developing one’s relationship with God. Jesus flips the tables on our priorities. Even the first disciples had a tough time understanding this. They really thought that they would somehow receive a privilege or bonus from being faithful. We often operate under that same illusion.

©LPi

VIVIR LA LITURGIA ~ INSPIRACIÓN DE LA SEMANA (Live the Liturgy)

Son las posiciones de poder y gran autoridad las que la gente suele admirar. Equivalemos el éxito con ingresos de seis cifras, altos cargos, administración e influencia. Incluso hacemos todo lo posible para encontrar el favor de nuestros jefes para que podamos obtener un pequeño reconocimiento adicional y tal vez la próxima promoción cuando surja. Así es el mundo. Aquellos que tienen sus valores establecidos en las cosas terrenales van a trabajar según las reglas terrenales. Olvidamos que no funciona de esa manera en el Reino de Dios. El éxito no se mide desde el lugar del estatus, la influencia o el prestigio, sino desde el lugar de la humildad, el servicio y el sacrificio. La autoridad que uno espera alcanzar no es una autoridad sobre los demás, sino una autoridad que proviene de la sabiduría y del desarrollo de la relación con Dios. Jesús cambia las tornas de nuestras prioridades. Incluso los primeros discípulos tuvieron dificultad para entender esto. Realmente pensaban que de alguna manera recibirían un privilegio o bonificación por ser fieles. A menudo operamos bajo la misma ilusión.

©LPi

Gospel Meditation

October 17, 2021
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

“What do you wish me to do for you?” Whether we realize it, this is a question God is always asking. It’s an important question because the answer we provide will reveal a great deal about where our hearts lie. Our requests of God can often appear very noble and altruistic. They consist of requests for healing for someone in need of prayers, successful resolution of a personal conflict, assistance in overcoming a disease and myriad other desires for both ourselves and others. We are especially concerned about those we love and can easily find ourselves bringing their struggles to God for a hearing in our prayer.

Is that really all that prayer is about? The woman in today’s Gospel, having been put in her place by Jesus, was only looking out for the wellbeing of her sons. She was doing what mothers do, protecting and securing the livelihood of her children. But she was sadly mistaken, her request was not granted. We all make this same misguided mistake from time to time. The goal of prayer is not to convince God of the worthiness of our agenda or to gain a hearing. Sometimes we believe that the more we multiply our prayers or discover the right combination of supplications that we will receive more of God’s attention. That’s not how it works. Even though God desires to hear, know, and be an intimate part of what is on our minds, it goes much deeper.

What we need from God is a relationship. It’s a relationship that guides and immerses us in the very stuff of life and in the direction of the Gospel. This relationship sees God’s kingdom and agenda, not our own, as what is most important. It builds the strength of character necessary to bring God’s Gospel into a world that may not receive it with open arms. It may cause us discomfort and suffering. We are asked to heroically journey with God through suffering, hardship, ridicule, and even death! Ultimately, our desire from God must become our desire for God. It is only when this happens that the powerful words “thy will be done” will be found with sincerity and humility on our lips. Whatever God wishes becomes what we wish as we see this glorious union of wills. Our humble lives will then become powerful witnesses, and what happens to us in God’s eternal kingdom the result of his mercy. We become true servants and find ourselves discovering God’s definition of success. That definition has nothing at all to do with status, income, or privilege.

©LPi

MEDITACIÓN EVANGÉLICO (Gospel Meditation)

17 de octubre de 2021
29º Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

El itinerario de Jesús sigue y sigue preparando a sus discípulos para los eventos futuros. Sin embargo, ellos tienen aún una forma muy diferente de pensamiento de lo que Jesús quiere de ellos. Hasta el grado de que Santiago y Juan piden los primeros puestos cuando Jesús llegue a su reino. ¡Que muchachos tan listos! Antes que nadie se les adelante ellos preguntan. La respuesta de Jesús ante tal petición es la siguiente: ¿Pueden beber la copa que yo estoy bebiendo o ser bautizados como yo soy bautizado?” (Mateo 10:38). A razón de esta pregunta, Jesús les vuelve a repetir que él no camina hacia el triunfo sino a hacia la muerte. Pero, ellos seguían sin comprender tan importante mensaje.

Señor, ten misericordia de nosotros y de nuestras pretensiones de poder, de dinero y de triunfo. Es lógico que todos queramos los primeros puestos, erróneamente en muchas ocasiones, y por eso luchamos en esta vida, sin importar a quien aplastamos o dejamos atrás. Por esa razón, Jesús explica por qué ha venido al mundo. “Sepan que el Hijo del Hombre no ha venido para ser servido, sino para servir y dar su vida como rescate por una muchedumbre” (Marcos 10:45). ¿Crees tú que ahora sí se comprende el mensaje? ¿Crees que con todo lo que se ha vivido durante la pandemia, aun se busquen los primeros puestos? Pidamos, al Señor, que se aparte de nuestro diario vivir la envidia, el egoísmo, el odio y el racismo. Que al participar en la Eucaristía nos demos cuenta que todos somos iguales y que todos ocuparemos un puesto importante en su Reino.

©LPi

The Love We Are Called To

For Sunday, October 17, 2021
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Give without counting the cost

Isaiah 53:10-11
Hebrews 4:14-16
Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45

Jesus gave of himself in service to others. If we are to follow him, we must do the same.

The Eucharist is at the center of our faith lives. At Mass, we recall how Jesus humbled himself to enter into the muck of our world. Along with the bread and wine, we offer ourselves together with Jesus as a living sacrifice to the Father. We pledge that we will give of ourselves in service to the needy, the lonely, and the desperate so that the blessings of eternal life may be extended throughout the world. When we come to Mass, we are not bystanders or spectators. Rather our lives are at stake. We are proclaiming that Christ has died to save us and that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves in service to others.

Jesus makes this very clear to his disciples in today’s gospel reading. Though he was the most powerful man to ever walk the earth, Christ did not become human to dominate others. He came to seek out the sick, the suffering, and the sinners. He came not only to instruct and heal us, but he suffered the cruelest death imaginable to open up heaven to those who would believe. Jesus was not in it for the glory. And anyone who follows him must be willing to live as he lived. To be like our master, we must make ourselves the slaves of others.

As members of a community of faith, we can relate to the bickering that went on among the disciples. We all love our church and many of us give long hours of our free time to support it. Many of us are generous when it comes time to give to special collections or help out with fundraisers. However, it happens more often than we would like to admit that generous people get overlooked and feel slighted. We can feel bitter that others get the recognition we believe we deserve. We can resent that we are giving so much and others are giving so little. Or we can get so frustrated and offended by the pettiness and gossiping of others that we want to give up altogether.

While it is natural to want to be recognized for our work, it is not what the follower of Jesus is called to seek. All the great saints prayed that they would be overlooked and taken for granted even as they spent long hours in service of others. What they wanted more than anything was to be recognized by God for their work. So, they continued on even when they were made fun of because they wanted to be like Jesus who gave without counting the cost and who did everything not for the glory but out of pure love for others. Each of us who calls Jesus “Lord” must do the same.

At every Mass, we gather to recall the sacrifice that Jesus made to save us. Are we willing to give of ourselves for others? Are we willing to go without so that we can give more generously to the needy? Are we willing to risk injury or even death to protect the helpless? Are we willing to take on the thankless jobs no one else wants out of pure love for Jesus? Are we willing to go without being recognized because we set our hearts on the reward that only God can give? Above all, can we do all this with a spirit of joy and thankfulness because we are blessed to be able to know, love and serve our Lord?
 
Douglas Sousa