What It Means to Me to be an Usher – Tom Schutte

When I began as an usher I did it because at the mass I attended they were short-handedTom Schutte Picture .JPG
and I was asked to help. I have an immense gratitude for the gentleman that asked for my help. I realized that I enjoyed it. I liked meeting people I worship with and trying to help them enjoy the Mass and getting as much out of it as I do.

Thirty one  years later I still enjoy being an usher as much now as I did when I began.

God bless,
Tom Schutte

What Being an Usher/Greeter Means to Me – Joan Schulte

Shortly after coming to St. Andrew Church five years ago, I decided to become an usher/greeter at Sunday Mass. I thought it would help me feel more a part of the parish community and help me meet my fellow Sunday worshipers. It did all that and more. I really enjoy seeing all the familiar faces every week and making everyone feel welcome with a friendly greeting and a smile. I think all of us in the usher/greeter ministry try to help promote our parish slogan. “The doors of Saint Andrew open wide at the very thought of your coming.”

Joan Schulte
I hope some of you will consider joining our ministry. It doesn’t take much of your time and it rewards you with a stronger sense of belonging to our parish community.

Joan Schulte

What Being an Altar Server Means to Me – Harris Craycraft

Being an Altar Server for St. Andrew has a two-fold effect. First and foremost, it is a great opportunity to help out the St. Andrew community. There are many pieces to the puzzle to make the Mass run smoothly, and I am always grateful to be able to contribute to that through being an Altar Server.

Harris Craycraft

Secondly, it is a two-of-a-kind position on the altar that the congregation does not get to experience. Being closer to the Priest and eventually the Eucharist is another blessing that should not be overlooked. Being an Altar Server means serving the community, the Church, and God at the same time.

 

Bread From Heaven

LogoAlthough we often think of Jesus as a Christian he was a devote Jew who followed all the precepts of Judaism. He was born of a Jewish woman, in a Jewish town in Galilee, was circumcised, studied the Torah, celebrated Jewish feasts, took pilgrimages to Jerusalem, taught in Synagogues, and celebrated Passover with his apostles. So, why is this important to Catholics? It is simple; the origins of the Catholic Mass are rooted in Jewish customs, history and scripture.

Exodus 16:4-6  Then the Lord said to Moses; I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them to see whether they follow my instructions or not. On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.

Scripture tells us that the Jewish people were waiting for a political messiah who would set them free, a new Exodus, if you will. As the Jews were fleeing Egypt, God took care of them every morning and night for forty years. Each morning in the desert the Jews found dew on the ground and when it dried, it was like flakes and they asked what it was. Moses said, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” And, each evening, they were fed quail. The bread was called manna and in the desert, any manna that was not consumed was stored in a tabernacle. A candle was lit next to the tabernacle to indicate that there was manna stored within. The Lord fed the Israelites for 40 years, manna in the morning and quail in the evening. The manna was referred to as “bread from heaven.”

Source:  The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Brant Pitre

Tabernacle and Lamp

Today the unused consecrated hosts remain in our tabernacle for the sick and dying. When the candle next to it is lit; you know the tabernacle has consecrated hosts in it.

The Tabernacle at St. Andrew The Apostle Church

The Worship Commission

 

 

 

God is Calling You

LogoLiturgy is the public worship of the people of God. The shape and substance of liturgy has evolved from primeval history to our current time. Indeed, liturgy is the principal means of renewing and maintaining the promises between God and his people in the history of salvation. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek leitourgia, which means “public service.”

In ancient Greece, this meant not only fulfilling civic duties but also religious duties to the gods. The word appears only six times in the Greek New Testament but is used over forty times in the Greek Old Testament, where it most often translates to the Hebrew meaning “service” or “worship.” In early Christian writings, the term “liturgy” referred to the sacramental worship of the Church with all its actions and dimensions. Related terms in Greek include leitourgia, “to serve, worship,” and leitourgos, “servant, minister.”

Source: The Catholic Bible Dictionary, Scott Hahn

In the months that follow, several times during the month, you will find information in the Bulletin, or on the Through the Open Doors Blog on the St. Andrew Church website, or on the St. Andrew Facebook Page, there will be information for you to read and maybe even some videos to watch to help you understand how God may be calling you to participate in our liturgy more fully. We will have information on the history of the Mass including where some the rituals and symbols originated, as well as information on the various ministries. While we are each called to worship in different ways, God may be calling you to serve your community in a particular ministry.

. . . are you listening?

 

The Worship Commission

Jesus and You – Living a Single Life With an Open Heart

Recently, St. Andrew Church hosted an evening program entitled, “Jesus and You – Living a Single Life With an Open Heart” for divorced, widowed, never married or otherwise single people from both St. Andrew and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parishes. This is the first program of its kind in our Pastoral Region and hopefully, from the feedback received, not the last.

Silhouette People Man Guy Sad Alone Trees

Over 30 men and women were present, as well as, the Holy Spirit.  Fr. Chris began the evening with prayer and a short talk, sharing his humor, family stories, and kind heart; drawing people in and putting them at ease. He opened the door wide to a wonderful evening of discussion.

Following his words, each person was assigned to a small group and each group received 2 different scripture passages related to leading a single life.  These passages were used as a basis for discussion on how these words related to their lives.  Many people shared stories  of the joys of single life, some pain and suffering, and even the aloneness of their lives and how they attempted to deal with this, using these scripture readings to help focus the discussion. Many others talked how adjusting to being single takes time and lots of prayer.

While we all knew we were in the same boat, many came to the boat for very different reasons, and we all had to learn how to live in silence, by ourselves.  As Fr. Chris said, “we all have the capacity to love and that is what we are called to do.  Living alone provides us with the time and availability to do just that.”

While sharing a personal story of pain and grief with strangers is never easy, there was a certain comfort when you realize that on this path, you are never really alone.  While the discussions from each of the 6 groups was very different, there was clearly a common thread – whatever your situation, you have to trust that God will care for you and if you do trust in his wisdom, you will live in peace.

I am with you always, even to the end of time. Lk. 24:29

Cathy O’Toole

Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta.

The above quote is from St. Teresa of Calcutta as she tells us to recognize needs in our own communities.

A friend of mine recently retired and was looking for a volunteer opportunity. She decided to help out at her grade school alma mater, St. Francis de Sales School in Walnut Hills. She began volunteering and realized as she observed the kids, they struggled with reading which would affect all of their other studies. While they read at school, many of them did not have any books at home to read.  Buying books for their children may not be a financial priority for parents who struggle to put food on the table. My friend saw a need and was determined to do something about it.

Child with books scuptureThe St. Francis de Sales Book Club was created out of a need to provide the school’s students with a variety of books to hopefully instill a lifelong love of reading, a curiosity of the world, and a foundation for success. St. Francis de Sales School is one of eight CISE (Catholic Inner-city Schools Education Fund) schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The demographics for the CISE schools include 93 percent poverty; 83 percent minority; and 76 percent non-Catholic. Although each classroom does indeed have a variety of books, and library time is part of each week’s curriculum, some students do not have access to books at home.

My friend decided to increase not only the classroom libraries but also the children’s personal library at home. She even started a weekly awards program for the best readers and gave them a book of their own.

Here is one of the Award Winners with her book.

Award Winner

In addition, she created the St. Francis de Sales Book Club on Amazon, which includes individual Wish Lists for each grade from Pre-K through grade eight, as well as a Miscellaneous Wish List and one for Black History Month. The teachers have provided titles they would like to have, and other books have been added. They have taken special care to include books that represent the demographics of the students, hoping that stories that reflect their lives in a positive way and will foster a love of reading and whet their appetites for more.

Can you imagine, as you look at this blog, to not being able to understand its meaning because you have not had books to practice and hone your reading skills. The work of Christians is to act where there is a need, just as St. Teresa of Calcutta told us and so it has been done in this situation. Jesus taught us to act when we see a need and to always help others.

. . . a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. 2 Maccabees 15:39

 If you are interested in checking out the St. Francis de Sales Book Club, click on this link:   https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/26SHVBJ0868DY

Cathy O’Toole

 

God’s Plan for Me

I have 3 prayer books that were written by Mark Link, S.J. in the late 1990’s for the turn of the century. The series of books is referred to as the Vision 2000 series and there is one for each of the 3 yearly liturgical cycles. And yes, I have been reading these books and reflecting on them each evening for nearly 20 years.

The daily format consists of a scripture reading, a short story, a question for reflection and a quote from a famous and sometimes, not so famous person. I love these books because they allow me to relate my life to the scripture reading, in other words, they make me think. And the reason that I have been reading them for so long is because my thoughts on scripture have deepened over the past 20 years.

The other night I was reading; (Isaiah 65: 17-18) The Lord says, “I am making a new earth and new heavens. The events of the past will be completely forgotten. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create.”

This reading was followed with the story:

The Italian sculptor Donatello rejected a block of marble because it was flawed. Michelangelo was offered the same block and accepted it. He looked beyond the obvious flaw to something potentially beautiful in it. He eventually carved from it his greatest masterpiece: David. God did something similar with us and our sin-filled world. God looked beyond our obvious flaws to something potentially beautiful in each of us. God is now “re-creating” all things in the image of Jesus.

The question for reflection was “How convinced am I that God has a plan for me and wants to make me into something special in spite of my flaws”?

After nearly 20 years of reflection, I have come to accept the fact that God has a plan for me and most of the time I see God’s hand in my life. I must admit though, sometimes he may have to shove me into something that I ordinarily would not consider doing. My flaws are countless. So, that is that! Yes, God does have a plan for me. And I will try to recognize it and follow him.

But, as I read this passage this year, particularly in light of the story included, I think I may often act like Donatello and become focused on the flaws of others, as well as my own.  Because of this I may fail to see the work of God in my life or in others.

Dear Lord, make me like Michelangelo so that I overlook my flaws, do not dwell on past failures and let me see your hand at work in not only my life but in others.  Do not allow me to step in the way of your plan for us all.

Cathy O’Toole  D29BF91F-326B-4778-8E20-A127888D1370.medium

 

Are You Excited to be Catholic?

It was over 5 years ago that I went on a faith journey that led me to where I am today. I was questioning the origins of my Baptist tradition so I started to study the history of the Christian faith. It was during this time that I came to realize that there were many truths  I never learned about at the private Baptist school I attended. Growing up I had always heard many misconceptions & falsehoods about Catholics, such as what they believed and why they did what they did. I have always been fascinated with history and I wanted to worship God the same way the early Christians did.

The more I studied, the more my investigation led me to the Catholic Church. Like understanding that before 1517 A.D. the only Christian church that existed was the Catholic Church and that all other denominations, like my own Baptist faith, originated from the Catholic Church. This was a total game changer for me. I thought, would the Church Christ gave us, the Church founded on the Apostles, be wrong for over 1500 years until the Reformation; I don’t think so.

I also thought, would Jesus want a divided Church? Of course not. Jesus prayed, “So that they may all be ONE, as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” JN. 17:21.

Now I found myself studying and reading everything I could get my hands on about the Catholic faith. I identified 5 issues I had about the Catholic faith and researched them. I was totally shocked! Not only did I find them to be truth, but they were backed up by scripture as well.  I began to think, what else am I missing?

Then I started reading about the Church Fathers, and about the wonderful liturgy of the Church, and of course the Sacraments. To think I might have lived out the rest of my life and not experienced the Sacraments would have been a terrible loss.

I realized that the only way to experience everything Jesus gave us, was to become Catholic. My wife Beth and I began participating in RCIA about 5 years before finally being received into the Church and celebrating Confirmation and first Holy Communion together on August 27, 2017. It was a long journey, but one we would do all over again. It was such a beautiful, awesome experience and I can’t think of a better place to experience all of this other than at St. Andrew! We feel like St. Andrew is our family now and we have made many lifelong friends in this community.

What a wonderful thing to now realize the beauty of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to know that Jesus really is in the Eucharist! Just knowing that every time we go to Mass that we are doing it the same way the Apostles would have celebrated it almost 2000 years ago. Just to know that we are all part of the first Church that Jesus gave us is such an awesome privilege!

I am certainly not knocking other Christian denominations some of which my entire family is still a part. The Reformation had its place in history. But, I now know that the only place to find the Full Deposit of Faith is the Catholic Church. Being able to experience the Advent season this year at the Eucharistic table with Beth was the highlight of my Christmas season.

After doing a lot of research for many years I am not only proud to say that I am Catholic.  I’m excited to be Catholic. I know for certain that I am a part of the One True Church. I look forward to going to Mass. It is always the highlight of my week. Knowing what I am a part of now, I can’t get enough. Jesus is there every week waiting for us in the Eucharist.  How could I not be there? I hope all of you can join me in being a part of God’s divine Truth that is called the Catholic Church! So, I’ll ask again;

Are you excited to be Catholic?

“It is in the Church, in the communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation.”
CCC 2030

Ben Gilmore

Beth and BenBen and Beth Gilmore have been parishioners at St. Andrew Parish for over 5 years and came into full communion with all members of this community in August of 2017.

The Third Week in Advent

Third Sunday of adventI have been blessed to have taken 4 pilgrimages to the Holy Land. My first 3 though prevented me from going to the site of the Visitation because my arthritic knees would not permit me to climb the hills. Even the thought of walking those hills to get the Church of the Visitation made me cringe.

When I think of Mary traveling to be with her cousin Elizabeth in Judah, I imagine how difficult that journey up those hills must have been for her. She was a young woman and while I am sure she had good knees, she was in her early stages of pregnancy. As I thought about Mary making the journey from Nazareth to the hills of Judah (about 90 miles) walking and/or riding on a donkey suffering from symptoms of possibly nausea, headaches, backaches and tiredness, I was amazed at her self-sacrifice. She was determined to get to her cousin Elizabeth to help her in her time of need.

Elizabeth was an old woman who was likely suffering similar symptoms to Mary’s and she may have even had worn out knees. She was very near to giving birth to her son, John the Baptist, and Mary had to get there to assist her through her pregnancy and to help her with her newborn son. She put herself aside to help her cousin. No wonder God selected this woman to raise his son. She was selfless.

Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Lk. 1-39

VisiationI finally made it to the Church of the Visitation at the top of the Judean Hills (see the picture to the right) on my last pilgrimage and was awestruck looking out over the scene. It was not only one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen but knowing what happened there made me more conscious of focusing on other people instead of my own troubles. The view along with this  reminder was well worth the wait.

Dear Lord, help me to always put others in need first as Mary, Your Mother did. Don’t let me trip over my own problems on the way to helping others, particularly as I look around at this time of the year and see so many others who require help.

Cathy O’Toole