Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI in his Lenten message for this year, reminded us that Lent is a season to reflect on the very heart of the Christian life. He said,
“The Lenten season offers us once again an opportunity to reflect upon the very heart of Christian life: Charity. This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.”
One of the aspects of Christian Charity that the Holy Father calls us to reflect on this Lent is our “concern for one another.” When I reflect on this call to be concerned for one another I am thinking primarily of our Parish family and its members; after all, Charity begins at home. And this Parish Family is our home. It is where we, through Baptism, become beloved sons and daughters of the Father in Christ Jesus our Lord; where we are nourished and grow in holiness and Christian maturity through the other Sacraments of the Holy Church; and where we are finally born into eternal life. It is where we adore God, truly present in our midst in the Holy Eucharist, in order to be enabled to enter into Communion and Union with the True and Living God.
And so, Lent calls us to a deeper concern for one another and for the Parish Family! In this season of prayer, penance and almsgiving, these disciplines direct us to deeper concern for the spiritual and material welfare of our Family of families. And so, we show this deeper concern through our prayer for the parish, especially through liturgical prayer, the Holy Mass and the other Sacraments; and how much we show this concern when pray for one another in prayer before the Holy Eucharist. We also show this deeper concern through our fasting and penance for Her temporal and spiritual needs. And we show our deeper concern through our practice of almsgiving, which even outside of Lent, needs to be primarily directed to this Great Pauper in our midst, that is our Parish Family, for she is poor and depends totally on the generosity of her members for her material support.
And so, faithful stewardship needs to be at the very top of our list of Lenten practice; and it needs to be at the top of our list of our faithful Christian practice of charity all year long. It is one of the things we will be questioned about on the Day of Judgment, “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” for the Parish Family is the Body of Christ in our midst.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek “the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another” (Rom 14:19) for our neighbour’s good, “so that we support one another” (15:2), seeking not personal gain but rather “the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved”
Pope Benedict in Lenten Message also says to us, “The Lord’s disciples, united with Him through the Eucharist, live in a fellowship that binds them one to another as members of a single body. This means that the other is part of me, and that his or her life, his or her salvation, concern my own life and salvation.”
Benedict goes on to say, “Sadly, there is always the temptation to become lukewarm, to quench the Spirit, to refuse to invest the talents we have received, for our own good and for the good of others (cf. Mt 25:25ff.). All of us have received spiritual or material riches meant to be used for the fulfillment of God’s plan, for the good of the Church and for our personal salvation (cf. Lk 12:21b; 1 Tim 6:18).”
This week I want to speak about two ways that we can practically carry out our charitable concern for one another in our Parish family through Almsgiving and prayer. First almsgiving.
As mention in my bulletin article last week, instead of listing in our parish family bulletin our budget, and how we are doing with regard to the budget, as we have done in the past, the Stewardship Committee and I want to begin to show what the realistic potential of our parish is, with regard to its Stewardship of Treasure. And it is truly a very realistic potential.
Of the 1279 registered parishioners, only 481 families gave a financial gift to our Parish Family last year. The average income of the families in our parish is $47,888.00. Remember, the Biblical Tithe asks that we give 5% to our Parish Family (and 1% to our Diocesan Family and another 4% to a worthy charity like St. Vincent de Paul). This Biblical Tithe is surely a goal we all should take steps to achieve, even if it is only one step at a time.
So let’s say we all begin to take a step to arrive at our parish potential and take the Biblically suggested 5% to our Parish Family and cut it in half. Let’s say that we ask those 481 families to give only 2.5% of their income to our Parish Family per week. With this very modest step to reach our full parish potential, the average weekly gift per family would be only $23. Now, take that $23 and multiply it by 481 (number of families who gave last year) and you get $11,063 for our weekly collection or $575,276 per year in total giving to the Parish Family. And this would only be scratching the surface of the full potential of this incredible Parish Family; just think of what we could accomplish if a larger number of parish family members would be moved to a deeper concern for this parish and do what they could to financially support its great work.
$47888 Average annual income of our parishioners
x . 025 Tithe Percentage
$1197.20 Average yearly donation per family
X 52 Weeks
$23.00 Average weekly donation per family
$23.00 Average weekly donation per family
X 481 Parish families who gave last year
$11,074.10 Total per week collection
But in these troubled economic times, let’s set our first step to our full parish potential at an even more modest level. If the average gift per family would be just $20 per week (only 2.1% tithe), that figure would be $9620 per week of income for our Parish Family, or $500,240 a year for the mission of our wonderful Parish Family. As you can see, this is very, very doable. Think of what we could become; think of what we could accomplish with this very modest step toward our full potential. If everyone in our parish truly believed in our mission and support this mission with their sacrificial gift of treasure we could be a strong force to evangelize our community and our world.
If the average gift was just $20 per week per family, only a 2.1% tithe:
$47888 Average Annual Income of our Parishioners
x .021 Tithe Percentage
$1005.65 Average Yearly Donation per Family
÷ 52 Weeks
$20 Average weekly donation per Parish Family
x 481 Parish families who gave last year
$9620 per week collection
or $500,240 per year total giving to your Parish Family
Now of course many of us can do much better than 2.1%, and many members of our Parish Family do so. Some have even achieved the full potential of 5% in giving. I thank all of you who are giving in a sacrificial way to the good of the Parish Family and fulfill a necessary aspect of charity by our almsgiving to the Parish during Lent and all year long.
The next practical way to carry our another aspect of Charitable concern for one another in our parish is one of prayer: This week I want to give you all a unique opportunity to pray for your Parish Family and for her needs and the needs of her families and members. As you know, there is no more efficacious prayer than prayer before Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist, because it prayer directly before the Incarnate Living God with us, Jesus. Every Saturday night, as you also know, we have all night adoration before the Holy Eucharist. This is a great time for parish members and even whole parish families to come before Jesus, adoring and praying for their personal needs. However, remember it is always more blessed to give than to receive=charity dictates that we can’t just pray for our selves and our own needs.
And so, beginning shortly we are going to begin to pray a continuous silent rosary during the Saturday night adoration for the Parish and its needs. Do accomplish this it will be necessary to have at least two people signed up for each hour. With at least two people at every hour we will be able to keep the rosary being prayed silently for intentions of our Parish Family all night long.
At each hour, for the first half hour, person number one will pray the rosary silently for these parish intentions and person number two will pray for their own personal intentions. After the first half hour, they will switch, so that number two will pray the rosary for the next half hour and number one will pray for their personal intentions. This way each person will be able to spend half of their hour before Jesus for their own intentions while the rosary will also be prayed the whole hour for the parish.
Look for more info coming soon on this very important prayer event for our Parish Family and her well-being. We will be sending out a post card asking that all parishioners sign up for an hour. Maybe some can only do an hour only every once and while, or maybe some can do one hour a month or even one a week. This week I want to share with the actual Parish Intentions for which we will be praying. They are printed on an insert in this bulletin. Please look them over and pray for the intentions on a weekly basis. In place of our normal petitions for this Mass I want to pray these Petitions for Adoration about which I just spoke.
Let us continue to do whatever we can in “concern for the other” with regard to the material and spiritual welfare of the members and families of our Parish Family. In the Parish Family, as within our own individual families, we must, as Pope Benedict said His Encyclical God is Love, we must “learn to make a sincere gift of our selves rather than look out for “number one.” In the family, both the Parish Family and our individual families, we experience a “deep personal sharing” and learn that “I must give to others not only something that is my own, but my very self.” (Deus Caritas Est, 34).
Thank you for your concern for our Parish Family, for her members and for her families! And thank you for your prayers for her and for her mission, and for your sacrificial gift of your time, talent and treasure for her. Let us make St. Patrick’s more and more a “Family of families helping one another get to heaven.” God bless you all!