Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Betsy Rowe-Manning Homily for Sunday, September 16, 2012

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Dear Friends:

Here is the homily given by Betsy Rowe-Manning (Parish Life Director at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Albany, NY) this past Sunday, September 16, 2012. It was Catechetical Sunday.

Please comment on the blog or send your thoughts directly to Betsy — browemanning@nycap.rr.com.

****

CATECHETICAL SUNDAY September 16, 2012 — A GOOD WEEK FOR …

THE WEEK, a 50 page (more or less) magazine with a banner that claims it contains:  “all you need to know about everything” is delivered to my house on Friday or Saturday.  Highlights of the week past are recounted through news stories/the world at a glance, US, European and international editorials, Talking points.  It highlights people, art, health and science and the like.   And in every issue, on the bottom of page 6 is a 3 1/2”x 4” column:  Good Week for:/Bad Week for.

Recently the magazine declared it was a good week for Besse Cooper who celebrated her 116 birthday and a bad week for drivers in Washington, DC determined  by a national insurance study to be the most accident-prone in the nation.

Tragically, during the past decade, the church has often been viewed at the negative end of the spectrum:  We have had many, many, many bad weeks. So many, in fact, that we can, at times, fail to recognize, much less acknowledge A GOOD WEEK:

  • A week when:  the NUNS were on the bus with an outpouring of support at each stop,
  • When Sister Simone Campbell’s offered inspired words at the Democratic convention,
  • When Bishop Hubbard met in a room bursting at the seams with people passionately committed to explore how our diocese might open more doors to ministry with and to the LGTB community,
  • A week when parishes embrace radical hospitality and model service,
  • A week when hunger for the divine, for meaning, for connection to the holy is satisfied.
  • When we, as James suggests, demonstrate the faith we profess here each Sunday through good works in every facet of life.

Today the church in the United States celebrates Catechetical Sunday, an opportunity to renew our commitment to proclaim the GOOD news, to live into it, rather than the BAD news or the DULL news.

Jesus asked his disciples: BUT WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM ?  And Peter nailed it:  YOU ARE THE CHRIST.

WHO DO WE SAY THAT HE IS ?   The ultimate good week is the week we live and tell the Christ story, the story of the new heaven and a new earth.

In this story, the risen Jesus is the source of God’s new creation, and the Holy Spirit is the energy bringing the new world to birth. The story is one of hope in the power of God, who comes from the future into our present world to bring justice, peace and reconciliation.  Modeled on the freedom and life of Jesus Christ, the story, our story, is all about the transformation of human hearts, human relationships, societal institutions, culture and, eventually, the transformation of all creation.

Please understand, we CANNOT, and we WILL not ignore what in our Church needs fixing.   But, at the same time, let’s not allow the bad news to overpower us and distract us from THE STORY, God’s new creation in Christ.   That’s story we share, the story we pass on.

If right this minute you could share just one part of the story to one person what would it be?

Note: At this time the assembly was invited to “shout out” what one part of the story would be. Many individuals responded out loud.

It’s true:  knowledge of the essential teachings of our faith is important, it’s a foundation that is essential to building life long faith formation.  It nurtures Christian identity, provides an accurate exposition of the faith and a common language with which to express, share and celebrate it.  Ultimately however, we aren’t seeking ONLY information. Christianity is a commitment to a person who is the Son of God.   What we seek is transformation:  the realization that God is here right now.  We seek believe in the conviction that we encounter Christ in our daily lives: at work, at school, in our homes, everywhere.

This is the what we celebrate today on Catechetical Sunday and today, we acknowledge and express gratitude to –

  • Those who dedicate themselves to the catechetical ministry nurturing faith in children, young people, in those discerning membership in the Church,
  • To leaders of Children’s Liturgy of the Word who break open the world with and for our children,
  • To Eileen Shirey, Dave Rowell and all the members of the adult faith formation committee
  • To Deb Chard-Weircham, Mary Mattachierro and the PSALTY team who catechecize through theater and song,
  • And most especially: we thank Susan Sweeney, Joan Marso, Kate Paul and the RCIA team for whom this community is extraordinarily grateful.  They teach as Jesus did, they tell the story and bear witness to Christ through lives of faith and service.

But it is important today, to recognize that we are ALL catechists nourished and strengthened at the Eucharistic Table.  And let’s not forget that when we celebrate Christ’s presence in the everyday, we can make this a VERY GOOD week.

 

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Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

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