Tuesday is the feast of the Immaculate Conception; Masses will be at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm. On December 15th, we will have our Advent Reconciliation service at 7:00 pm in the church. Please mark your calendar and take advantage of these opportunities. Safety procedures will be in place.
Our Gospel today introduces us to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin who is a primary Advent figure, someone who “prepared the way of the Lord,” as we are supposed to do with our lives. It is interesting to look at the differences between John the Baptist (a stereotypical Old Testament prophet) and Jesus (who introduces us to a new way of thinking about and interrelating with God).
The first difference is that John was out of the way, off in the desert, and people had to go out to him. Jesus, on the other hand, went into the towns and villages and approached people directly, going out of His way to reach out to sinners, even dining with them. Jesus took the initiative to be with the outcasts of society.
John’s message was a fiery one, threatening dire consequences to those who didn’t take it to heart. Jesus’ message was more a joyful announcement of the Good News.
No miracles are reported about John the Baptist, but Jesus’ ministry was full of miracles, especially healings.
Finally, both preached repentance, reform, a change of heart. Jesus, though, was more than a reformer: He transformed our condition and the condition of the world. After Jesus, everything was different!
What does this say to me? Well, it makes me think that the fire and brimstone sermons I have heard are more appropriate for the Old Testament. Jesus came to present to us a loving God, the Prodigal Father, who is always waiting for His child.
That leads me to realize that, if I have internalized Jesus’ message and way of being, I will not be living out of fear, but rather a joyful desire to bring Gospel values into the world, to help transform the world, as did Jesus.
Advent is a time of reflection on how well I am doing at preparing the way of the Lord for others. Am I fearful or do I trust that God loves me and wants the best? Am I doing what I think is right just so I won’t go to hell or am I so joyful with what I have been given that I want to share it with others? How can I transform myself more into a joyful messenger of the Good News? As we struggle to do this, let us support each other with prayer and example. God bless and stay safe.
Today we start a new Church year with the first Sunday of Advent. It is also the “year of Mark,” in which we will hear from his Gospel during Ordinary Time.
We all know Advent is a time of preparation. But, for what should we be preparing?
Our culture tells us we are preparing to celebrate Christmas, in religious terms the birth of Christ, His first coming into the world. Our faith tells us that we are REMEMBERING that first coming while preparing to celebrate His second.
When will the second coming happen? In recent Gospels Jesus told us that no one knows, except His Father. He tells us to be prepared, but how should we do it? The answer is by living in such a way as to bring about the Kingdom of peace, justice, and equality NOW, today, in Wauwatosa or wherever we are.
Jesus told us He HAD established the Kingdom. It is here, now, it is growing among us. It is not a future event. The commitment of a baptized Christian is to live the values of that Kingdom in daily life, so that we are helping the Kingdom to grow.
When we pray “Thy Kingdom come” in the Our Father, we follow it with “Thy will be done.” In other words, we are not just wishing that the Kingdom come, but we are committing ourselves to make it happen. The Father’s will is that we relate to each other, and especially the most needy, as did Jesus. Then we are helping the Kingdom to arrive in its fullness.
I invite us to reflect this Advent on how we are doing at bringing the Kingdom alive in our daily lives. The Lord knows we will never be perfect, but the important thing is that we are growing.
Please note in your calendar two special Advent events that can help us in our struggle to grow. One is an Advent Reflection at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 1st. There will be a short presentation, quiet reflection time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and Benediction. The second is an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of
Reconciliation at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 15th, when there will be three priests available for private confessions. I invite you to take advantage of these opportunities to grow during this season of Advent. They will be conducted in a safe manner. God bless.
Happy Feast of Christ the King! We wish our neighboring parish a happy feast day. May Christ the King bless you in a special way.
Once again, we have an Advent/Christmas reflection book for adults and an Advent work book for children that are available outside the main door of the church in a box on a chair. If you don’t get them at Mass, drive by and pick up your copies.
Remember our Advent reflection at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 1st. Safety measures will be observed. There will be a short presentation on change and transformation, quiet reflection time, and Benediction. I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to enter prayerfully into the season of Advent.
Our Church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent and preparation to celebrate the birth of “the new born king” that the three wise men came to visit. Some king: wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger! The Church year ends this weekend with our celebration of Christ the King. But what kind of king? Our first reading from Ezekiel answers that, telling us that the Lord will be a shepherd for his people. In that short reading the Lord says “I” 11 times and “I myself” to emphasize it 3 times (I myself will look after and tend my sheep…I myself will pasture my sheep…I myself will give them rest…) This is not a king who lords it over others but rather one who cares deeply for them. All of Jesus’ life was a lived example of shepherding others, taking care of them, making them the center of His life.
This is a king whom we can emulate and our Gospel of the Last Judgment makes it clear we HAVE to emulate Him. Jesus gives clear criteria for being admitted into the Kingdom. It is not going to Mass, it is not observing rules, it is not belonging to a certain denomination. It is shepherding his people. It is using our material resources to feed and clothe those in need. It is sharing our time with those who are isolated for any reason. It is shepherding others as our circumstances allow. It can be easier to observe rules than to be inconvenienced by the needs of others. But Jesus makes it clear what is important.
I invite us to reflect on the past year. As I listen to the parable of the Last Judgment, am I more with the sheep or more with the goats? Have I improved this year? How can I do better?
et us resolve that, next year on this feast, we will be able to say we improved. And let us support each other with prayer and example. God bless.
Please mark your calendars for our Advent reflection at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 1st. Safety measures will be observed and registration is not required. There will be a short presentation on change and transformation, quiet reflection time, and Benediction. I invite you to take advantage of this opportunity to enter prayerfully into the season of Advent.
Our Gospel parable this weekend is very clear: Jesus is the Master and we are the servants who have been given five, two, or one talent (a talent was about 100 pounds of coins). Notice that it was not important how many talents each received; they just needed to do what they could with the amount received. Each of us has 24 hours in a day, everyone has “talents” in the sense of an ability or aptitude to do certain things, and we all have some material goods. How am I using the time, talent, and treasure that God has blessed me with? Do I tend to focus on myself or do I think of others? For example, what do I do with my free time? How much television do I watch as opposed to visiting or calling someone who is homebound? Or if I am able bodied, do I volunteer to cut the lawn for an elderly
neighbor? In terms of finances, do I spend my income mostly on myself or am I supporting my community and worthwhile causes?
We like to think that we don’t have much and we can’t make a difference, but even the servant with only one talent was expected to put it to work in a productive way. Our Gospel this coming weekend, the Last Judgment, reminds us what is important. When Jesus says to us, “when I was hungry…alone…sick…,” He will be judging how we have used the time, treasure, and talent given to us by God.
As we come to the end of another Church year, the days grow shorter, as does our time on earth. How am I doing on using all that the Lord has given me to build up the Kingdom? How can I do better? God bless.
Our 2021 Pledge Drive is in full swing. I ask you to be as generous as you can in supporting our community and its ministries. PACT: Pius Parishioners Always Come Through! Thank you.
About a month ago, our Gospel presented a man who was thrown out of a wedding celebration because he was not wearing a wedding garment, even though one was given to him at the door. Our Gospel this weekend has a similar message with the 5 foolish virgins, who did not have the oil needed to perform their function at the wedding. They had the means to get the oil, for they ran and got some, but they simply were not concerned enough to prepare for what they were supposed to do. In these last weeks of the Church year leading up to the Solemnity of Christ the King and its Gospel of the Last Judgment, we are being urged to prepare for our encounter with Christ at the end of our lives. Our first reading calls it “wisdom” and perhaps we can translate “wisdom” as being able to see things God’s way, not ours. For me, “God’s way” is summed up in the Beatitudes and the “Last Judgment.”
The “BE-attitudes,” presented to us at the beginning of Ordinary time, highlight the attitudes or approach to life that we need to have as disciples: poor in spirit, meek, merciful, etc. The Last Judgment,” presented to us at the end of Ordinary time, highlights the actions that will flow from proper attitudes: we will take care of others, especially the most needy. The Sundays in between show us how to do this, through Jesus’ words and example.
Reflection for the week: How prepared am I to meet Christ? What can I be doing better to live as a disciple who shows love of God through love of neighbor? How can I better use the time, treasure, and talent the Lord has given me?
Hopefully, our desire to be more prepared to meet the Lord does not come from fear, but rather a desire to “be the best that we can be!” Let us support each other both by prayer and example. God bless.
We have received a letter with pictures from Tanzania informing us that the six wells constructed with our 2020 Living Waters collection have been completed. Sue Haertel will be sharing more information in upcoming issues of the newsletter. Thank you for your generosity. PACT: Pius Parishioners Always Come Through!
This weekend we have the witness talks for our 2021 Stewardship Pledge. Witness talks are also on our website. Materials were mailed out this past week, so you should receive them soon, if you have not already. Please be as generous as you can in supporting our community and its ministries. Thank you.
This year November 1st is a Sunday, so the Solemnity of All Saints trumps the 31st Sunday of Ordinary time (only solemnities can do this, not feasts or memorials). In this celebration, we honor those who have died and are in heaven. The next day, in the Commemoration of All Souls, we pray for those who have died but are not yet in heaven. These two celebrations remind us that we are the Body of Christ, one family in Christ, and our relationships are not broken by death, since “life is changed, not ended.” On All Saints we pray to those who are in heaven, asking them to intercede for us; on All Souls we pray for those who need our help and support. We are helped by those in a position to do so and we help those for whom we are in a position to do so. We are one family, the Body of Christ!
When we think of “saints,” we tend to think of the people in statues or icons we have seen, people who have done “great” things, people who have been recognized and venerated by the Church. But the reality is that 99.9999% of saints are simple people like you and me, our family members, our neighbors, those we work with. They will never be publicly recognized, they will never be venerated throughout the Church. They simply did their best to bring Christ’s love, forgiveness, and compassion to the world.
We are called to be saints, not by doing great, memorable things, but by living each day the best we can, according to Gospel values. As we celebrate this feast and honor all those who have done their best to live Gospel values, I invite us to reflect on how we are doing, zeroing in on one area where we can improve and strategizing on how we can do that. And as we struggle to be better disciples, let us support each other in prayer. God bless.
Our Holy Land collection totaled $1,318, more than 4 times our normal Good Friday collection. I thank you for your generosity. They need the help more than ever this year, with the lack of tourist income. PACT (Pius Parishioners Always Come Through)!
When a scholar of the law asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, Jesus gave an answer that would have been expected: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The religious leaders and the people would have agreed with this. However, Jesus didn’t stop; He added something new: The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. He elevated love of neighbor to the level of love of God. This was consistent with what He had been preaching throughout His active ministry. For example, He turned “an eye for an eye” into “turn the other cheek.”
The Jews thought they showed love of God by fidelity to the Covenant, by keeping all the laws (over 600 of them!). Jesus was saying we REALLY show love God by love of neighbor. Sometimes, we Christians have not gotten this message. In a survey of American Catholics taken in the 60’s, participants were asked this question: What's the more important law -- love your neighbor or give up meat on Friday? More than 50% responded, "Give up meat on Friday." The Second Vatican Council addressed this mix up in priorities by stripping away some non-essential things that had taken center stage. Pope Francis has been following up on that by reminding us that love – manifested as mercy and compassion – needs to be in the center, not rules and regulations. It doesn’t mean that law and rules are unimportant; it means that they are in service of love and compassion.
Therefore, as Christians who believe in Jesus and his Gospel, we must put love and compassion in the center when we are deciding what we will believe, how we will act, or how we will vote.
REFLECTION: do I use observance of laws and regulations as an excuse to avoid showing love for my neighbor, especially the most needy? Or do I use following the laws and regulations of the faith to help me grow in my love of God, shown through love of neighbor? How can I improve?
Our Gospel ends with these words of Jesus: The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. Let us make sure that religious observance is helping us to grow in love of God, manifested through love of neighbor. God bless.
Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” This is a complicated saying of Jesus that is often twisted or misinterpreted, but there are two things coming up in the near future for which it is relevant:
First: Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. I remember one time I was at a gathering where a man was complaining vociferously about the condition of the streets, the lack of police service, etc. A few sentences later he was bragging about how he found a way to avoid paying any taxes!! We have responsibilities as citizens. One is to be willing to pay our fair share for the infrastructure that we use: roads, water, fire and police protection, etc. Another is to participate in choosing our leaders. So many people complain about our civil leadership or lack of it, but then don’t vote! We have the responsibility to study which candidates best reflect Gospel values and then vote on November 3rd!
Second, …give to God what is God’s. This coming weekend I will introduce our 2021 Stewardship Drive and the following weekend we will have our witness talks (which we will also put on our website). This is an opportunity to “give to God what is God’s,” that is, to
support the ministries of our community, which work to bring about God’s Kingdom of justice and love. God has blessed us all with time, talent, and treasure. We show our gratitude by generously sharing from what God has given us. Hopefully, all parishioners will pledge so that we can responsibly budget for the next fiscal year.
Please pray for the success of our pledge drive and for God’s Spirit to guide our elections on November 3rd, as we struggle to build up his Kingdom through our participation in civil life and in the Church. We also continue to work and pray for equality, justice, and peace. May God continue to bless each of us. Be safe!
Our sister parish collection will end this coming weekend. If you have not yet contributed and you are able to do so, please be as generous as possible. Click here for more information or to donate online.
We are out of pyxes that parishioners can use to take Communion to the homebound. If you have any that you are not using, please return them to the parish. Thank you.
In our first reading from Isaiah, we hear all-inclusive words five times (“all people” twice, “all nations,” “every face,” “whole earth”). In the short second reading from Philippians, all-inclusive words appear four times (“every circumstance,” “all things” twice, “fully supply”). In the Gospel, the servants go out to the highways and byways to invite ALL to the wedding banquet (after the original invitees blew off the king and his invitation). There is no doubt that these readings are telling us that ALL are redeemed by Jesus and invited to the Kingdom.
But it is not a “get out of jail free” card for everyone. There is a catch: we need to have on our wedding gown. When we hear the Gospel, it sounds odd: if the guests were invited in from the highways and byways, how could they have a wedding garment? But the reality is that wedding garments were handed out at the door to those who did not have one, so the guest who was not wearing one had no excuse: he chose not to wear it.
The point for us is this: we have been invited to the heavenly banquet, but we need to cooperate. We are given the Gospels, the Community, the Sacraments, etc., to help us know how to live. If our lives are clothed in the proper apparel of faith, hope, love, forgiveness, tolerance and all the virtues of the Christian life, we will fit in perfectly at the wedding feast, for we will be properly dressed.
I invite us to reflect on how well we are using our religious observance to grow in Gospel values. What kind of shape is my wedding garment in? What is one area I can do better –and how?
Let us support each other with example and prayer, as we strive to grow in our ability to live Gospel values.
Congratulations to our children who receive their First Communion (finally) at the 10:30 am Mass this weekend. May you always walk close to Jesus. I thank the parents for bringing them to this point in their faith journey. May God bless them.
If you have not yet supported our sister parish collection for this year, please do so soon, if you are able. Information on how to do so is elsewhere in this bulletin or at www.stpiusparish.org/news/sister-parish-collection. God bless Santa Maria Nebaj, Guatemala.
In the first years of my priestly ministry, one of the most difficult questions I encountered was “Why do we pray? After all, we believe that God knows everything and wants the best for us.”
The beginning of our reading from Philippians gives the answer: Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
We “make our requests known to God” for ourselves, not to manipulate God or tell God what to do. When we pray to God, we are connecting, we are relating. Add that personal relationship to our belief that God wants the best for us and we can move toward “having no anxiety at all.” And when that anxiety drops, “then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” is ours. It doesn’t mean the concern is gone, it doesn’t mean the problem is gone (e.g. a relative in serious condition), but it does mean that we “know” that God is in control and all will be OK, even if it is not what we want. That anxiety deep in our hearts is lessened.
This is a great gift of faith, a great gift of connecting
personally with the Lord in conversation and prayer. If I ever had any doubt about this, it was taken away by the innumerable times I have ministered to dying friends of Jesus, who had the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. It is awesome and humbling to experience that.
The secret is making sure that our experience with God is a relationship of conversation in prayer, not simply believing dogmas. I pray for all of us that we may deepen our personal relationship with the Lord by speaking to Him and listening. Then, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This is my prayer for all of us. Have a good week and stay safe. God bless.