Practice Gratitude

Here is the 3rd of 7 practical tips to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah from Fr. Dave Belt”s Mission Talk at Midtown Catholic on December 5th.

We have been given much by the family, mentors, and friends in our lives. The best of these are greater than material wealth. Make sure to practice the “Attitude of Gratitude” this advent. A good resolution would be to personally thank someone for a positive impact they made at a crucial point in your development. Whether a former school teacher, parent, or loved one- use a particular example that has a date in history.

We owe gratitude primarily to God. Consider praying some of the psalms (such as psalm 65) or this prayer from the 3rd Century:

O Lord and Vivifier,

Your grace has achieved for us all that you had spoken and promised.

Grant us access to the place of your peace.

For you are our Vivifier, you are our Consoler, you are our life Remedy, you are our Standard of victory.

Blessed are we, O Lord, because we have known you!

Blessed are we, because we have believed in you you!

Blessed are we, because we bear your wounds and the sign of your blood on our countenances!

Blessed are we, because you are our great hope!

Blessed are we, because you are our God forever!

Check out Christmas Mass Schedule at Midtown Catholic

Mary’s Holiday Stress

Here is the 2nd of 7 practical tips to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah from Fr. Dave Belt”s Mission Talk at Midtown Catholic on December 5th.

There is never a bad time of year to pray with the Blessed Mother, but Advent is one of the best! Spend time reflecting on her point of view from the Annunciation until Christmas. She had the unique privilege to know of Christ’s coming first. She had many worries as well. From her local ruler being threatened by her son, a journey to Bethlehem whilst 8-9 months pregnant, to the prophecy of Simeon, Mary had some holiday stress! 

The Glory of God leaves the Solomon’s Temple in Ezekiel chapter 10. It never returns. In Luke chapter 1 the angel Gabriel tells Mary “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;” (Lk 1:35) Ask for Mary’s guidance that the Holy Spirit may overshadow you, and that Jesus may be born into the world through your imitation!  

Check out the Christmas Mass Schedule at Midtown Catholic.

Prepping with Prayer

We often find time to watch a new T.V. show, read another article, or grab one more snack. If you already have a practice of prayer, try to find just a few more opportunities to offer brief prayer throughout the day. If not, finding 5-10 minutes to reflect on scripture is an easier today than it ever was! YouVersion Bible App will send daily scripture versus to your phone. Franciscan Media’s Saint of the Day (SOD) is another great option to reflect on the heroes of the Church.

We’ll be sharing Fr. Dave Belt’s tips for Advent from his Mission Talk that he gave on December 5th.

Check out our Christmas Mass Schedule at Midtown Catholic

No Two-Fers for Christmas

Catholics are obliged to attend Mass twice between the evening of Friday, 12/24, and the evening of Sunday 12/26. One of those times needs to happen before Sunday. The other of those times has to happen Saturday evening or after. Going to Mass Saturday evening can satisfy either obligation, but not both at the same time. As ever, it is the attendance at Mass that satisfies the obligation, not the specific liturgy of that Mass.

In the chart below, the yellow boxes indicate when the first obligation may be fulfilled. The blue boxes indicate when the second obligation may be fulfilled. The content of the boxes indicates which liturgical celebration is to take place. Please note that the Saturday evening celebration, even if in fulfillment of the Sunday obligation, must be the celebration of Christmas Day and not the Holy Family.

Check out our Christmas Mass Schedule

It’s Almost Christmas

SJA Christmas Masses

Friday, Dec 24 – SJA — 4pm and 6pm

Saturday, Dec 25 – SJA — 9am

SJA Holy Family Masses (Regular Weekend Schedule)

Saturday, Dec 25 – SJA — 5pm

Sunday, Dec 26 – SJA — 8am and 10:30 am

STM Christmas Masses

Friday, Dec 24 – STM — 4pm and midnight

Saturday, Dec 25 – STM — 9am

STM Holy Family (Regular Weekend Schedule)

Saturday, Dec. 25 – STM — 5pm

Sunday, Dec 26 – STM — 8am and 10:30 am

Is it time to go to confession to get our hearts ready before Christmas?

  • SJA Penance Service 10am – 11am on Saturday, December 18th
  • STM Penance Service 7pm – 8pm on Tuesday, December 21st
  • Examination of Conscience

Scrip Classroom Contest

It’s that time of year again to help your child, earn a classroom pizza party.   The classroom with the highest average amount of Scrip (Gift Cards) sold between Monday, November 8th andSunday, January 2st wins a classroom pizza party.  Second place gets ice cream and third place gets candy.  Every week anyone that purchased that week goes into a drawing for a $25 gift card to be given away. Order forms are available at the school office, parish office, in the back of church or on both the school and parish website.  Family gatherings and work are two great examples of places to ask friends to fill out a scrip order sheet.  Payment must be included.  Make sure all forms have your child’s name and grade listed on the order sheets.   All orders on the RaiseRight app count towards the contest also.   

Any questions call, text or email Marsha at:   402-651-3423     scrip.stm@gmail.com

Scrip Contest Form

Help your Neighbors in Need

The primary way in which our parishes help our neighbors in need is though our St. Vincent de Paul Conferences. The Conference is made up of a team of people who volunteer to meet or call back people from our neighborhoods who have requested financial help. There has been some interest from folks to join, but still not enough. Take a next step to learn more and reach out to Deacon Ron Ryan at St. Joan of Arc Parish @ (402) 558-3100 or Maureen Roberts at St. Thomas More @ (402) 917-4776. 

Another way to learn more but not yet commit is to attend an SVdP orientation on Saturday, November 6 from 9am – 1:30pm @ Holy Family, 1715 Izard Street, Omaha, NE 68102. Here’s what you’ll learn and how you will grow!

9:00am – Introductions
9:15am – Part I: Introduction to the Society
9:30am – Part II: History
10:00am – BREAK
10:10am – Part III: Spirituality
10:30am – Part IV: Conference Life
10:45am – Part V: Council Life
11:00am – Part VI: Understanding Poverty
12:00pm – Mid-Day Prayer
12:05pm – LUNCH
12:30pm – Part VII: Home Visits
12:45pm – Home Visit Video (12 min) and Discussion
1:15pm – Closing Prayer

Internal Audit for Money Collection – STM

Introduction

In the spirit of full transparency for the parishioners of St. Thomas More, below are the findings and recommendations based on the audit of our collections and money counting processes.  There was no wrongdoing discovered.  The changes which are recommended are being done only to make sure our procedures are compliant with the Archdiocesan Handbook and are a return to pre-pandemic protocols. It is the expectation of the pastor and parish office that these changes will be implemented no later than November 20, 2021. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Eric Keisling, Director of Finance and Operations at ejkeisling@midtowncatholic.church.

Current protocol:

Collection bags are placed in the sacristy prior to Masses.  Metal collection baskets are on the altar, and ushers approach the altar, pick up a collection basket and proceed to collect contributions. 

Once all aisles have been collected, each usher deposits their collection into a wicker basket at the foot of the altar, where it remains until the end of Mass. 

Following Mass, the priest or deacon takes the bag from the sacristy and puts the collection into the bag at the foot of the altar where people can see.  He then seals the bag and carries the bag back to the rectory where it is kept in an unlocked cabinet where the money counters will take it on Monday morning before the count.

Archdiocese Handbook Protocol:

Before each mass an adult usher will record the date, time, and his/her name on a pre-numbered tamper proof bag, as well as complete and detach the perforated bag receipt, placing it in the bag.

Following the collection of the offering, two unrelated ushers will bring it forward to the altar in a collection basket.

Immediately following each mass, two unrelated ushers will place the offering in the tamper proof bag, sealing and transporting it to a secure location (a safe is preferred) on the parish property, before it is counted. Access to the secure area must be limited to authorized individuals only, with the key or safe combination appropriately safeguarded.

Adjustments to Current Protocol:

To be implemented no later than November 20

Before each Mass, one usher will sign and date the collection bag which will be in the sacristy until the end of Mass, as well as fill out and detach the bag receipt, placing it in the bag.

Metal collection baskets will be kept in the back of the nave along with the wicker collection basket.  After the collection, all the baskets will be emptied into the wicker collection basket.  Two unrelated ushers will bring the wicket basket to the foot of the altar.

Immediately following each mass, two unrelated ushers will place the offering in the tamper proof bag, sealing and transporting it to the safe in the sacristy.  Either the head usher or the deacon will have access to the key to the safe to deposit the collection.

On Monday morning, either a deacon, a money counter, or on exception bases the Director of Finance, will transport the tamper proof collection bags from the safe in the sacristy to the conference room of the rectory by 7:30 a.m. to be counted by the money counters.

No material changes in the counting process are required at this time.

All Souls

As we approach this month of November, we remember in a special way all the deceased of our parishes. All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died, which is observed annually on November 2nd. Aside from our normally Masses on that day (Mass schedule), St. Thomas More and St. Joan of Arc parishes will be honoring those who have died from our parishes over the last year in a special way at the 10:30 am Masses on November 7th,The names of those to whom we have said goodbye in this past year will be read and a special candle with their names on it will be lit. During the month of November, each candle will remains lit to remind us to pray for all our loved ones.

Choosing Our Words

Last week I shared some revealing information from a study that focused on the perceptions of women going through a crisis pregnancy. An article published by First Things magazine summarized this study. Let’s review.

  • When faced with a crisis pregnancy, many women see abortion as the lesser of three evils. The first evil is the loss of self. Many young women might imagine themselves being mothers later in their lives, but they view an early unplanned pregnancy as a death of self. Many young women do not find their identity in motherhood. Bringing a child into the world means the loss of their own life. They view choosing abortion as a choice for survival.
  • Abortion is considered an evil by many women. “The scores of women involved in the study (none of whom were pro-life activists and all of whom called themselves “pro-choice”) agreed that abortion is killing.”
  • While many of us know adoption to be a beautiful and courageous option, it is rarely perceived as such by a woman in a crisis pregnancy. Adoption, for many women, is seen as a double death. Not only would the woman have to carry the pregnancy to term as a mother, a death of self, but then be a “bad mother” because there is a sense of death by abandoning her child. Many perceive adoption as the worst of the three evils.

I would encourage anyone who claims to be pro-life not to judge women who have these views. It is simply not helpful. Listening, understanding, and empathizing are the keys to effectively communicating a pro-life message. If we want to share, we also have to listen.

Empathizing with women going through a crisis pregnancy should provoke us to reconsider our pro-life rhetoric and slogans; otherwise, much of our pro-life message falls on deaf ears and only makes things worse.

Consider the common pro-life slogan, “Abortion Stops a Beating Heart.” The First Things article that I mentioned above points out that, “While this may be an effective phrase among pro-lifers, the effect upon a young woman in crisis would probably be to 1) provoke anger at the messenger (pro-lifers), 2) confirm her sense that pro-lifers ignore her life and situation, and 3) drive her further into denial and despair.”

I know some in the pews would prefer that my brother priests and I give more strongly worded and more frequent anti-abortion homilies. When I preach, I have to consider who is sitting in those pews. Consider this:

It was Jesus’ gaze of mercy, care, and concern that changed the hearts of those he encountered. As the Body of Christ on earth, it will serve us well if we share that same gaze of mercy, care, and concern to those whom we encounter. If we want to remember the unborn, we have to care for the mother first, understand her situation, and then choose our words carefully.

Fr. Jeff Lorig, Pastor

Check out Part One of this Article- Abortion and Empathy