Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year: As you know, the Christmas season was over on January 10th when we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord. Now we are in the “Ordinary Time” of the liturgical year. This means there are no significant liturgical celebrations during this time, except, of course, the Sunday liturgies. Though we call this “ordinary time,” we know that God’s love and grace are not to be trifled as ordinary. God’s everyday blessings are extraordinary. They accompany us all through our lives and shine through all our days, no matter what the liturgical seasons are. Someone has said: “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” Someone else has said: “I refuse to be ordinary.” Also we hear that “great people are just ordinary people but with great desire.” Some saints have reminded us that we need to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way. These things may well apply to the ordinary time of the liturgical year. God can touch us anytime. He always delights in us. He is waiting for us to love and give of ourselves. So let the ordinary time be an extraordinary time because of that little “extra” we can add to the ordinary time and to our ordinary lives and the ordinary routines.
Lent is on the Horizon---Plan Ahead?: The short Ordinary Time comes to an end as we begin Lent on Ash Wednesday on February 17th. As we will embrace Lent in the next few weeks, we could start planning on what we might do differently in Lent. With daily Masses still not certain on account of Covid, we could start thinking about things along the lines of faith, love, and service. Conversion, repentance, new ways of thinking and living are all important in Lent. No doubt it would involve giving up certain things and even going through inconvenience and sacrifice --- all part of the spirit of Lent. It would be a good idea to start planning already now on what we might do extra or different in Lent.
Calendars have arrived: I’m glad they are here and ready to be distributed. Enjoy! Apologies for the delay. Calendars, as you know, are a visual representation of time. Calendars are filled with days and weeks and months, which are in turn filled with hours and minutes and seconds. We put our schedules and events, our birthdays and anniversaries, on calendars. Let the new year 2021 be filled with blessings of love and health for each one of us at St. Elizabeth parish.
Archdiocesan Annual Appeal (AAA) 2020 and 2021: For 2020, we could not reach our goal of $48,719. We still needed to raise $16,038. Covid came in the way. However, since the Archdiocese needs the AAA contributions from all parishes in order for them to do God’s work effectively, I sent in the amount of $16,038 to the Archdiocese from our other sources. Thank you for your generous donations in last year. For this year, 2021, let’s make a new, concerted effort to achieve the goal. I’m assuming that our AAA 2021 amount might be about $50,000. So, I’d like to request you to start donating generously. I’ll also be writing a letter to each parishioner. If it’s possible for you to give 1% of the total amount of $50,000 which would be $500.00, please do donate it. It would be much appreciated. Some may be able to give more than 1% as some of you did last year. For others, whatever you are able to give generously, please do send it in to the parish. If we could complete this by the end of April, we would not need to talk about it for the rest of the year.
A Story to Ponder: Dandelions: A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to destroy them. Still they plagued him. Finally he wrote the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?” In due course the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.” (ADM)
Religious Humor: 1. Saint Pope John XXIII: Visiting a hospital Pope John XXIII asked a boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said either a policeman or a pope. “I would go in for the police if I were you,” the Holy Father said. “Anyone can become a pope, look at me!
2. Without God: A Weekly Reminder: Without God, our week would be: Sinday, Mournday, Tearsday, Wasteday, Thirstday, Fightday & Shatterday. Remember seven days without God makes one weak!!
A Quotable Quote: “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future”---Augustine of Hippo.
Thinking of you joyfully and gratefully and sending you my wishes and God’s blessings for health and happiness. Be well! Be swell!
Your Friend & Pastor,
Fr. Charles Puthota
From the Pastor’s Desktop
A Message from Father Charles Puthota
Dear Parishioners of St. Elizabeth,
Baptism of the Lord: After celebrating the heart-warming birthday of Jesus at Christmas, we meditated on the Holy Family and the Epiphany. Our families will do well in modeling themselves on the Holy Family. When Jesus is present in our families, we have everything, all the strength, grace, and courage we need to face anything. Epiphany prepared us for the conviction that Jesus is Lord for all the nations and cultures and that we are all called to help reveal Jesus to our families, neighborhoods, and the whole world. We are moving along briskly on the journey with Christ. Now we have come to the Baptism of the Lord as he begins his public ministry. In Mark’s gospel today, as Jesus is being baptized we see the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove and the Heavenly Father who says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
There are some insights that we can dwell on. 1. Jesus is guided by the Holy Spirit and is always eager to do his Father’s will. We could follow Jesus in this regard. 2. Jesus did not need the baptism and yet he goes through it as a way of inserting himself into our humanity and vulnerability. Jesus’ incarnational participation in our human nature begun at his nativity continues at his baptism. 3. Jesus is called, anointed, and sent by his Father to bring new life and hope to the whole world. We too are called to fulfill the purpose for which God has brought us into the world. 4. Each of us is God’s “beloved son or daughter.” God is “well pleased” with us. So let’s not go about carrying guilt or hopelessness. Our God is a happy God who is delighted with us, despite our sinfulness. It’s precisely because of God’s being “well pleased” with us that we can turn our ways around to his. 5. Like Jesus, each of us was baptized to walk a new journey of grace and holiness. How are we doing in that regard? Is our baptismal anointing and empowerment still working in our lives? The Baptism of the Lord is an occasion for us to take stock of our lives.
A Story to Ponder:Who is the real menace?: The Ministry of Agriculture decreed that sparrows were a menace to crops and should be exterminated. When this was done, hordes of insects that the sparrows would have eaten descended on the harvest and began to ravage the crops, whereupon the Ministry of Agriculture came up with the idea of costly pesticides. The pesticides made the food expensive. They also made it a hazard to health. Too late it was discovered that it was the sparrows who, through feeding on the crops, managed to keep the food wholesome and inexpensive.
New Year 2021: This Sunday, we will have spent ten days of the New Year! How are we enjoying this New Year? Is this New Year treating us with kindness and gentleness? T. S. Eliot says, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language; And next year’s words await another voice.” It may be a good idea to find this new voice and new language for this New Year. Perhaps we can take care of our body better. Maybe we can nourish our mind with truth and light and avoid preconceived, prejudiced, biased notions and ideologically loaded ways of thinking. Perhaps our hearts can become softer, gentler, kinder, lighter, and more joyful, to give and receive love. How about our soul? Is it infused with the radiance of God’s presence and grace? What does it profit to gain the whole world if we lose our soul? We would then have everything except our soul. Without the soul, we are not alive. How can we open our soul as a dwelling place for God?... These are some of the things we could think about and act upon in the new year. May this new year, in the midst of COVID-19-based isolation and anxiety, still be a time for deeper reflection and soulful living.
Our Donation to St. Anthony’s Foundation: You may recall that, instead of annual collection of food items for Thanksgiving, this year, on account of COVID-19, we took up a collection at Thanksgiving Mass toward St. Anthony’s Foundation. I sent in your donations of $550.00 to them. Their grateful response is as follows: “You are the reason we are able to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, addiction recovery services, job training, access to technology and other critical resources. Your gift will be put to immediate, direct use in providing a lifeline to San Franciscans experiencing extreme poverty and homelessness. Thank you for your gift of $550.00 for the Dining Room, gratefully received on December 15, 2020.”
Your Support for St. Elizabeth Parish ministries: Please continue to support our parish ministries through your generous donations and volunteering. It’s much appreciated. You are wonderful in your participation of the mission and ministry of our parish community.
Thinking of you with love and faith and sharing with you a sense of adventure in the new year for doing beautiful things for God and people and assuring you of God’s continued blessings of health, safety, and wellbeing, for us and the whole world,