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April 22, 2004 Edition

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'He will send his angels to watch over you' -- Sometimes with a mop and bucket in tow

photo of Fr. Randy J. Timmerman
Living the Scriptures 

with St. Paul University 
Catholic Center 

Fr. Randy J. Timmerman, D. Min 

"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

College students, I have found, are blessed with incredible energy. They convince me that once they set their minds to an effort and couple it with passion, the sky is the limit.

Third Sunday
of Easter
(April 25, 2004)
Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
Rv 5:11-14
Jn 21:1-19 or Jn 21:1-14

I marvel at the disciplined heart of a junior who shows up at crew practice every morning at 6:00 a.m. because she loves it. Based on energy and passion, the young mind, heart, and body have an ability to ignore limits.

Then I turn to my mother who has recently been diagnosed with a "weak heart." Today, several of her friends arrived at her doorstep, cleaning buckets in hand and gently asked if they could come in and do her spring cleaning.

It has been two years since she did the thorough scrubbing from attic rafters to basement corners that was her habit. My mother had to accept the truth, the cross, that now she must stretch out her hands and let others help with some of her needs, certainly "a place where she doesn't want to be forced to go."

But this is the way it seems to work in the physical dimension of our lives - our bodies age and that which we used to do is no longer possible.

There are parallels in the spiritual dimensions of our lives as well. The "spiritually" young believe they are in control and approach prayer believing that if they pray hard enough they can control God and change God's mind. We plea-bargain and beg God to do things our way.

Reflection questions

• What are some of the "crosses" in my life that I have trouble accepting?

• In what ways can I mature spiritually, accept these crosses, and allow God to take control?

Mature spirituality brings a sense of surrender to the mystery of life. We accept the "crosses" that arrive.

To "grow old" spiritually is to loosen one's grip on the need to control and to open the door and allow the presence of God to enter - on God's terms, sometimes even with a mop and bucket in hand.

Fr. Randy J. Timmerman is pastor of St. Paul University Catholic Center, Madison.

St. Paul's Web site is www.stpaulscc.org

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Faith Alive!

Faith Alive! logo

In a Nutshell

  • Consumerism takes consumption, and purchasing, and acquiring things to an extreme.

  • Consumerism's overwhelming interest is with material objects a person can acquire; it may view people as commodities too.

  • Pope John Paul II said, "It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a lifestyle that is presumed to be better when it is directed toward 'having' rather than 'being.'"

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  •  Food for Thought
    I don't think many people I know would label themselves "consumerists." Their self-image isn't of someone who has turned possessions into an idol.

    Some might say that unnecessary purchases they've made have complicated their lives. Some yearn for more simplicity in life and might comment that obtaining and maintaining what now are considered life's necessities can be seriously stressful.

    I don't call myself a consumerist either. Like many others, though, I "get it" -- I get the message about the force consumerism exerts. Actually, it would be hard as a parent not to do so. While children reluctantly, frustratingly and so gradually are learning to distinguish what they want from what they need, a parent might well sense that consumerism for this family is a stone's throw away.

    It can be hard to say no to the next thing that a family member wants. Yet, there is that sense that consumerism is harmful and that one who becomes a true consumerist adult won't be as adult as he or she could be.

    full story

    Am I a Consumer
    or a Consumerist?
    By Father Robert L. Kinast

    Catholic News Service

    At least two-thirds of the Sunday newspaper I read is filled with advertisements. When I go the grocery store, there are usually two or three choices for every item I want to buy. More than three-fourths of the mail I receive each day consists of advertisements and special offers. This is what it means to live in a consumer society.

    A consumer society relies on the buying and selling of products and services; the strength of its economy depends on how much consumers spend. President George W. Bush made this clear when he proposed tax cuts at the beginning of his administration so that people would have more money to spend to stimulate the economy.

    full story 

    Defining a Family's Wants and Needs
    By Sheila Garcia

    Catholic News Service

    "People are being suffocated by their stuff," a home organization expert recently declared.

    I'm not quite at the suffocation stage, but as I look around my home I see how much we've accumulated over 25 years, especially things that did not even exist when we moved in such as a home computer, DVD player and cell phone. When a neighbor mentioned that she didn't have a microwave oven, I was appalled. Fifteen years ago our new microwave was a handy, if not absolutely essential, appliance. Now it has become a kitchen staple.

    full story 

    Confessions and Conclusions of a Recovering Pack Rat
    By Brian T. Olszewski

    Catholic News Service

    I'm not sure who was the first to say, "Hold on to that; it's going to be valuable someday," but it might have been someone whose parents dumped his or her 1959 and 1960 Topps baseball cards, which might be worth thousands of dollars, or maybe it was the person who developed self-storage units and is reaping the rewards of this $10-billion-a-year business.

    I write this surrounded by more than a half ton of "collectibles": boxes of sports cards, game programs, yearbooks, historic newspapers and magazines, and political memorabilia. As a recovering pack rat, I am in the process of unloading more than 30 years worth of what I used to think was, or would become, valuable.

    full story

    Faith Alive! logo
     Faith in the Marketplace
    This Week's Discussion Point:

    How, in your experience, has consumerism caused problems for you or others you know?

      Selected Response From Readers:  
    Copyright © 2004 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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    This week's readings

    Week of April 25 - May 1, 2004

    Sunday, April 25, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
    Reading II: Rv 5:11-14
    Gospel: Jn 21:1-19 or Jn 21:1-14

    Monday, April 26, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 6:8-15
    Gospel: Jn 6:22-29

    Tuesday, April 27, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 7:51--8:1a
    Gospel: Jn 6:30-35

    Wednesday, April 28, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 8:1b-8
    Gospel: Jn 6:35-40

    Thursday, April 29, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 8:26-40
    Gospel: Jn 6:44-51

    Friday, April 30, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 9:1-20
    Gospel: Jn 6:52-59

    Saturday, May 1, 2004
    Reading I: Acts 9:31-42
    Gospel: Jn 6:60-69

    Pope's Prayer Intentions

    April General Intention

    Live according to the Spirit. That those who hold positions of responsibility in the Church may offer a shining example of a life which is always responsive to the guidance of the Spirit.

    April Mission Intention

    The universal call to holiness. That the clergy and the laity, and the religious, both men and women, who work in missionary lands, may live and courageously bear witness to the universal call to holiness.

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