What a joyous Christmas we shared with our community. Our little church was filled with visitors who came to enjoy the hour of carols, choral music and scripture readings on Christmas eve. The choir participated in the following mass at 5:00 pm and sang again on Christmas morning at 9:00.
The choir practices twice a week throughout the year to ensure high quality music. Please support them generously by donating to the collection can in the church entrance or by mailing a check marked “choir” to the church office.
Today’s gospel is a difficult one – Jesus tells us we must commit to him beyond our commitment to our families. Fr. Louis explained for the Jews of his time, this was a particularly disturbing message because of their strong family structures. But Jesus knows the human heart and he knows the frailties of human relationships. What he is saying is that love of Christ must be primary and when it is, our lives are properly ordered.
Eleanor Stump uses the example of Thomas More to illustrate this point on the St. Louis University site. She points out “More saw that Henry’s passion for Anne was moving Henry to betray his wife and bring scandal on the Church. And More wouldn’t support him. He wouldn’t sign the Oath. ” She summarizes
“Because he maintained his integrity and did not let Henry push him into evil, More was true to the Lord he loved and to himself. He could not have loved himself or his wife or his children or his neighbors better than he did. “
Fr. Luis also celebrated today’s canonization of Mother Theresa, now St. Theresa of Kokata, by reading her famous prayer:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Thank you Fr. Luis for teaching us to understand today’s gospel.
Today the Guild members received these darling thank you notes from the Cissell family children. The cards are made from rubbings of their grandmother’s leaves in her flower garden – the source of our beautiful Sunday altar bouquets, and the children had a wonderful time making them. We just loved receiving the cards and thank the Cissells and grandmother Sue Poirier.
Thank you to Guild President Fran Korn who made olive and egg sandwiches – a retro dish from the 1950s that many of us remember fondly!
It has been our pleasure to serve the parish all summer and we have especially enjoyed making treats for the children who are such a blessing to our parish.
We also would like to thank the person who left the lovely breakfast cakes at St. Hubert’s Hall earlier in the morning. They were scooped up and enjoyed by our parishioners. Thank you so much for participating, it is wonderful to have new people and new recipes!
In today’s gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14), we are asked to honor the poor, the sick, the blind and the needy: those who are not on the “A List” – but rather are neglected and made to feel unwanted. Fr. Ron Rolheiser has written a wonderful insight into this gospel on the St. Luis University Sunday Website. He writes:
“Our world revolves around those who are strong, attractive and active. We see beauty and worth in the pretty, the un-sick, the young and the talented. They are the roses whose attention, affection, and autographs we court. It is they we would put on our mantel. Conversely, we find the sick, the handicapped, the aged, the unattractive, the wounded and the non-achievers a nuisance.”
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Blind Leading the Blind, 1568, detail
Today’s mass was said by visiting Capuchin Franciscan Priest Father Bob, who is asked us for prayers supporting the Capuchin missions in Northern Mexico. These missions are a perfect opportunity to fulfill the requirements of today’s gospel. He asked us if any of us knew who Conrad Erslinger was. Nobody raised their hand. Then he asked us who knew St. Francis of Assisi? He explained that the former individual was a prominent civic leader and contemporary of St. Francis, now forgotten. St. Francis, who abandoned his wealthy family and lifestyle to serve the poor and disenfranchised, is of course, world known and loved. Fr. Bob told us that initially, Francis wanted worldly fame and recognition. He had an unsuccessful military career, participating in a war with Perugia which wound up with him in jail. Only the soldiers from wealthy families were taken hostage; the rest were slaughtered – a horrific lesson for young Francis in the ethics of the world. His adventures as a knight were equally unfulfilling. After dreams, meditation and prayer, his conversion culminated in his encounter with the leper. Fr. Bob points out the irony that after removing himself from the center and reordering his life in a Christ centered way, he found the peace and joy that the world had not offered him – and is remembered by the world today.
Fr. Bob told us of the needs of the community for basics – medicine, gas, food – as well as the dangers of the drug trafficking in the region. Today’s second collection was donated to the Capuchin Franciscan friars. For more information, visit the website for the Western American Province of the Capuchin Franciscans.
Fr. John Boettcher said the masses this week end while Fr. Luis is on retreat. He elaborated on today’s second reading from Hebrews 12:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.”
explaining that the notion of discipline is not meant as something mean or punitive, but rather as the guidance and discipline one applies in child rearing. We are, after all the children of God. In the family of that time, the meaning included servants and slaves as well as family members. God invites us to be members of this family, and membership requires compliance with God’s laws. Too often we get off on a wrong path, far away from God, but God’s mercy and the prayers of the other members of our family, can save us.
Today’s gospel concerns the process of getting into heaven and Fr. John gave us some tips on how to optimize our chances. He encourages us to pray for our deceased family and loved ones, and reminds us there is a benefit to us: they pray for us in return. A person we might have helped get sprung from purgatory would be grateful and pray for our success in achieving heaven – despite our transgressions. Our deceased loved ones eagerly await our arrival in heaven – as our earthly family would say, “the party cannot start until you get here.” So discipline is intended in this very social, nurturing sense. We become better family members by understanding and complying with God’s laws, but our nature is rebellious and stubborn, and often times we need guidance and prayers. We can also offer up our tribulations on this earth to help those in purgatory, and they, in turn, will pray for our salvation.
In discussing the narrow door and the discipline required for admittance, it is important to remember God is merciful and that we have our spiritual family helping us. Don’t let the busy schedule of your life eliminate God. Start you day by just saying hello to God, asking how are things upstairs, and remember to say a prayer for your deceased loved ones. Just a moment of prayer taken now and then throughout the day can put things in perspective, preventing the worries and ego concerns of life from blocking God’s loving guidance.
In closing the homily, Fr. John encourages us to have our answer ready when we are asked where we are from: we are from God! Let us never hesitate to say that, and let us live that with a genuine commitment – we are the children of God and people should be able to see it in us.
A special treat was to have Fr. John sing and play his guitar at the end of mass. Thank you Fr. John, it is always a blessing to see you.
In today’s gospel Jesus says “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” Later he says “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter…”
The two preceding readings deal with the sinful behaviors of men and failure to conform to God’s teachings. Poor Jeremiah is tossed into a cistern, and Paul reminds us of the opposition Jesus faced from sinners.
Fr. Luis said it is hard to hear these words and we might well ask what happened to the peace and love message of the Christian faith? But Fr. Luis points out that most of us live in a state of cold war in our families and social connections. We have tension and conflict, which when allowed to fester without confrontation produces depression and stress. We simply cannot capitulate to the norm of sinfulness, but each day, guided by contemplative prayer, we must strive to correct wrongdoers, including ourselves.
While this is a somewhat daunting thought and does not produce a “feel good” moment, Fr. Luis reminds us that our struggles pale in comparison to those of Christians in the middle east and in parts of Africa who face loss of life merely for being Christian. Some of the oldest Christian communities are being annihilated, and fiery opposition is indeed appropriate.
I WILL CHOOSE CHRIST
NOTICE: There will be no week day masses from Aug. 15 thru Aug 30.
St. Elizabeth’s Guild Coffee Pastries and Savories are served after the 9:00 AM mass in the outdoor church from July 4th thru Labor Day.
We have had requests for recipes and resources and here are a few recently served items:
Croissants: Our delicious croissants are shipped from France via the TV shopping network QVC. You can purchase them on line at QVC We serve them with creme fraiche which we make by using a half pint of whipping cream and 2 tbls of plain yogurt or buttermilk. Leave the combined cream and yogurt or buttermilk at room temperature for 24 hours, then refrigerate. It will thicken until it is as thick as cream cheese. We start ours on the Tuesday before the week end. We cut the croissants in half and use 1 tbls of creme fraiche with fresh blackberries when in season. QVC also offers mini size croissants and chocolate versions of both sizes.
Salmon Salad on Puff Paste: We use Pepperidge Farm Puff Paste and you can make the puff paste in advance and freeze it. Each sheet is cut into 12 pieces, cutting along the 3 folds first, then cutting the sheet in half, then quarters. You will then slice each piece in half so you have two servings from each. The salmon salad should be made a day early as the flavors blend better, but it does not freeze well, the salmon becomes very mushy. We use a piece of salmon that is about 1.5 lbs and we make 24 servings from it. Poach the salmon for about 10 minutes in a steamer (check for doneness, salmon will turn pale pink when done, but do not overcook.) Add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of mayonaise (or to personal taste), chopped fresh dill (reserve some dill sprigs for decoration of the tops), about 1/4 large onion chopped, lemon juice from one lemon, and worcestershire sauce to taste, salt and pepper. Put a heaping tablespoon of the salmon salad on each piece of puff paste and serve on a paper cupcake or small napkin. Do not make more than a few hours in advance as the puff paste will get too soggy. Put little sprigs of fresh dill on top and serve.
Note: We have found that Atlantic farmed salmon actually works better than fresh wild salmon in this recipe, and is half the cost.
Wishing you all the peace of Jesus Christ! See you next Sunday.
Mass readings for ordinary time focus on discipleship. Today’s readings discuss the importance of faith in the community, illustrated by historic references. The first reading, take from Wisdom, refers to the courage of the Israelites, derived from their collective faith, in facing the challenges of the Passover. “The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.” Collectively they expressed that faith and God rewarded them for fulfilling their duties in salvation history. In the responsorial psalm, taken from Psalm 33, we are taught again that our individual faith is blended with that of our fellow disciples, and is pleasing to God. ” Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.” The second reading, Hebrews 11:1-2, documents the faith of Abraham and Sarah, who by trusting God, carried forward the salvation plan for a people who are faithful to their eternal home, the city of God. The gospel acclamation exhorts us to “Stay awake and be ready! For you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Mt 14:42a,44) This is the prelude for the Gospel (Luke 12:32-48) which issues a stern warning that we must remain prepared and vigilant, like good servants, fulfilling our duties and living in virtue – not just as individuals but in our business and social organizations. We are warned God will not go easy on those of us who have neglected our responsibilities, and that the punishment will be in proportion to our charge. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
In our culture, we object to such harsh warnings which offend our modern sensibilities, and we prefer a watered down version of religious ethics without guilt, shame or responsibility. But our duty is to remain faithful, to be prepared. The church has always been under attack, the methods change with the centuries, but the faithful play the same role in salvation history.
In his homily, Fr.Luis pointed out that “salvation is not a private thing,” and that to nourish our faith we must do more than reading at home — we must encourage each other. He told of a young person at a retreat who asked him how to grow in faith, and he cautioned her that as a youth especially, she must not fear silence. In our modern age and especially among teens, the day is filled with noise and stimulation. Our minds are filled with the various technologies flooding our senses. This must be addressed by planning time for silence, where we can quietly listen for God’s voice.
We are grateful to our St. Elizabeth’s disciples: St. Elizabeth’s Guild who provide the coffee, pastries and savories after mass; our choir who lead us in song; those who are working hard on the restoration of St. Catherine of Siena, lead by Dan Demers; to Sue Poirrier for the beautiful floral arrangement each Sunday, and for her husband Larry who installed the gates and prepares the grounds. The Poirrier family contributes numerous other services to the parish, as well as blesses us with their adorable grandchildren and their beautiful but sometimes frazzled parents. Let us all remember to help young families as much as we can as they cope with the overpriced housing, career demands and madding pace of today’s world.
We also express gratitude to our fund raisers and contributors, to the Bohemians who provide the annual Variety Show, to St. Elizabeth’s Guild who conduct rummage sales and contribute to the support of the parish and local service organizations, to the parishioners who work on the Jazz Festival Parking, and to all the many people who perform the many tasks necessary to keeping our parish going. We so enjoyed the Parish Picnic and look forward to the Christmas Dinner.
As Fr. Luis said, let’s remember to encourage one another in the best way we can. At every Sunday mass he greets visitors and reminds us to welcome them; no one should feel lonely or unwelcomed at our churches!
God bless you all, see you next Sunday!
Report from Danny Demers on St. Catherine of Siena Restoration
Today we paid M-4 Specialties $1500 to begin rehabilitating the pews. Will begin tomorrow morning, Aug. 3, 2016, and expect to finish by Sunday or Monday. Work will be done inside the church. Afterwards we will move them outide and cover with canvas tarps to allow soda blasters in. The pews will be sanded and treated with initial finish. Final finish will be applied once the pews are set inside the church after new floor coverings are installed. There will be a balance due of $2000 to M-4 Specialists once their work is completed.
Backstory: St. Catherine of Siena church suffered a fire in November of 2015. Click here for details.
On this 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Fr. Luis reminds us that Ordinary Time is dedicated to scriptures pertaining to discipleship. He reminds us of our social/spiritual interconnections with our fellow Catholics as well as the world at large, our role in salvation history. Today’s readings address the pernicious nature of greed, how the comforts and pleasures of wealth can be a problem. He told us of a plaque he saw in a home he was asked to bless which read “The best things in life are not things.” He reminds us not to allow our things to dominate our lives, and to remain vigilant to the dangerous of materialism.
On a lighter note, Fr. Luis received a joke from his aunt which he shared with us. Three elderly sisters, who had never married, lived together all their lives in the same home. They were aged 92, 94 and 96. One day the 96 year old drew a bath and put her foot in the tub. She called out to her sisters “Was I getting in or out of the tub?” Her 94 year old sister responded by climbing upstairs to help, but midway she called out “Was I going up or down the stairs?” The youngest sister was in the kitchen having tea and overhearing this and said “I hope will never get as forgetful as you two, knock on wood.” Then she added “I will come up and help you just as soon as I answer the door!”
Then Fr. Luis topped himself by saying “I would tell you why I am telling you this joke, but I forgot!” which got a good laugh from our parishioners and visitors. Speaking of visitors, we were happy to see visitors from Arizona and members of the Robles family visiting from Guadalahara, Mexico. Josefina’s 3 sisters and their husbands are in town. Returning to the subject of discipleship, it is so important to remember our need to love one another despite our differences – be they political, economic, ethnic or just personality clashes: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision or uncircumccion, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.”
Communion Antiphon: “You have given us, O Lord, bread from heaven, endowed with all delights and sweetness in every taste.”Wisdom 16:20
Special thanks to all the volunteers who produced the two important fundraisers last week, St. Colman’s Salad Luncheon on Tuesday and The Monte Rio Variety Show on Thursday. A great deal of work goes into creating these events which are a major source of financial support for the parish. Additionally, these events provide fellowship and great fun for our communities. Thank you all again.
Sorry to be so late publishing this post. This week was the 105th Annual Variety Show in Monte Rio which benefits St. Catherine of Siena Church. Thank you to all who work so hard to make this event so successful.
Fr. Luis invites us to remember today’s gospel in our daily lives and to make the effort to apply the values of generosity, hospitality and friendship each day.
Wishing everyone a blessed week and apologies for a late and very short post.
An unseasonably chilly morning today contrasted with our Hawaiin theme for the parish picnic this afternoon at Northwood! By the end of mass and coffee hour the sun was peaking through and temperatures will be nice for the 12:30 picnic.
Fr. Luis spoke of the importance for Catholics to be hospitable and inclusive to visitors and new parishioners, telling a poignant story of being an immigrant family and greeted with stares at their new Catholic parish. Fr. Luis shared that two of his siblings no longer are Catholics due to this experience. The Guild provides coffee, pastries and savories after mass in order to counter the Catholic tradition of rushing off after mass, and we all still need to recognize that merely fulfilling the duty to attend Sunday mass is not adequate. Guild members ruefully smile at the Martha Mary gospel, which is all too familiar to us as we struggle to make sure our ministry is carried out in the right spirit!
We truly must be a loving, caring church to our fellow parishioners, our visitors and our newest members. So often we blame our busy schedules but need to remember to set our priorities straight, blocking out time for prayer and contemplation that in turn gives us the grace to be better representatives of Christ.
Today’s Gospel speaks well to that issue, the lament of Marathe the overtasked, resentful sister of Mary, who elected to sit at the feet of the rabbi. A classic conflict and source of friction in family and professional life, we all have both Martha and Mary issues in our lives! With humor and grace hopefully we can do better at balancing our chores and imbuing them with grace, through work in our spiritual lives.
A nice way to express this spirit of generosity could be purchasing tickets as a gift to the 100th Monte Rio Variety Show. Or purchase the wonderful souvenir sweatshirts shown below, worn by volunteers with Michelle McDonnell. Invite a shut-in neighbor, or perhaps young family who cannot afford tickets.
We celebrated our first outdoor mass of 2016 today and enjoyed worshipping together under the trees, a much loved tradition for generations of Catholics on the Russian River. Special thanks to the volunteers who helped prepare the grounds: Frank Danzart, Brian and Denise Britton, Larry Poirier, John O’Connell, Bronson Johnson, Jesus Chavez, Barbara Seymour, Dan Bajone and Steven Johnson. The tanbark laid down has eliminated the dust from the car parking and the newly cleared areas will provide more parking spaces. This will enable St. Elizabeth’s to park more vehicles at the Jazz Festival – one of our most important fund raisers! Thank you to all who worked on this project.
Fr.Luis reminded us that during ordinary time our readings focus on discipleship. Today’s gospel, Luke 10:1-12, 17-20, describes the appointment of the 72 disciples by Jesus and his instructions to them. Fr. Luis pointed out the number 72 is significant because it refers back to the Old Testament list of 72 nations descending from the sons of Noah. Later in this gospel Jesus warns the disciples not to be too impressed with their power to remove demons and heal, but to rejoice in the assurance that their names are written in heaven. A modern understanding of this admonition is to avoid allowing one’s ego to interfere with ministry.
As disciples at St. Elizabeth’s we have much to be joyful about – enjoying the fellowship of our summer parishioners, and participating in the fund raising and social events of the season:
July 17 Parish Picnic at Northwood – tickets available after mass.
St. Colman’s Salad Luncheon at the Cazadero Fire Hall, Tuesday, July 26th at Noon.
Thank you to our choir for their ministry! Here are some video snippets of today’s music to enjoy. We sang “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” together to celebrate Independence Day. We are grateful to all who have defended our freedom and to God for our beautiful country.