Rhythm and the Buzz
School is back in session. Crossing-guards stand watch at the corners. Buses queue up. Fall sports in full swing. Maple Shade Wildcats’ home opener was this Friday (9/7). Life is moving from the summer rhythm to the bustle of the “normal” routine. Life is buzzing in Maple Shade.
About 6 weeks ago, (7/28-9), we began a series of articles on three great spiritual practices in the church: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. (All past letters are posted on olphparish.com .) Traditionally, these three are the focus of Lent. Jesus teaches about them in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6), which we hear on Ash Wednesday.
Since then, quite a tumult has unfolded in the Church. Both Bishop O’Connell and Pope Francis have called on the church to embrace a season of prayer and fasting, for purification and renewal.
Please mark your calendars, so that on Friday 9/14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, you can join us for a day of penance and some time of adoration (3-9pm) in church.
Last spring the parish engaged in an increased offertory campaign. All life is rhythmic, a pattern that repeats. We get into a rhythm of giving, $10 or $20 or $50 a week. And life goes on. Time passes. And while all expenses go up (for households and for our parish), sacrificial offerings have remained pretty flat, or even went down. As any household knows, that causes a strain (and anxiety for me!). Only difference, while ya’all can maybe go out and get a second job, we at OLPH cannot. We can only work with what you give us.
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, right after the part on almsgiving, prayer and fasting, Jesus preaches “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… store up treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Set your hearts on higher things. At OLPH, we are engaged in higher things. We are dedicated to building up the Kingdom of God in our little corner of the world.
The way we store up treasure in heaven is by being dedicated to the things of God. Every day, we can ask ourselves: how am I building the kingdom today? Today. Soon after that, Jesus warns: you cannot serve God and mammon. How am I serving God today? Today.
To this end, I invite you to TWO (2) tasks:
First: Engagement. Participation is at an all-time low across many volunteer organizations. Firefighters, coaches, scout leaders - all harder to find. Citizens feel less engaged in politics, even local groups. So, I would like to encourage engagement. Become involved! Join a club. Volunteer. Dedicate your time to a worthy cause. Build up the kingdom with your life.
Second: Prayerful Stewardship. We are still short of our stewardship goal. It takes about $11,000 to operate our parish weekly; our collection has been around $8500. So that means $2500 a week in the red. Not so hot. Hopefully, it will go up now that people are returning from vacation. (Givelify is a great way to support our parish even when you are away. I use it every week. Find it in the “App” store.)
Good news about that $2500 weekly shortfall… If each household could manage an increase of about $10-15 / week, we would meet our goal. Remember, “many hands make light work!” If everyone pitches in a bit more, that additional gift will make a huge difference to the life and vibrancy of our parish.
As we get going into the new rhythm of the season, please take a moment in prayer and ask Jesus how you could better build up the treasure in heaven. This life is short. Heaven is eternal.
With my blessing,