Labor Day

Today’s readings: Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 2:1-3; Psalm 90; Matthew 25:14-30

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come share in your Master’s joy.” These are the words that we all want to hear one day, on that great day, the judgment day, when God gathers us all in to bring us to the reward for which he created us. This parable is Biblical evidence that just accepting the faith and having a relationship with Jesus aren’t enough for salvation. We have to work with God, using the talents he has given us, to help God create that “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace” (Mass for Christ the King).

And so, like the man who received one talent, we cannot go hiding our talents away hoping that our Lord will ignore our fear and poor self-image. We have to be willing to invest our talents in the work of creation, doubling what we have been given, and bringing it back to the Lord.

So many people say, when they are asked to do some special project or take a place on a ministry “Oh, I could never do that. That’s for people with way more talent than I have.” I have two things to say about that. First, they might be right. Maybe they don’t have the ability, all by themselves, to do what God is calling them to do. But God never said they had to do it by themselves, did he? God can provide infinitely what we lack. Second, this kind of false humility isn’t praiseworthy. It is almost like spitting your talent out of your mouth, back at God, and saying, “God, what you have created is nothing.” God forbid that we should ever say that to the one who made us!

And so, on this Labor Day, we are asked to pause in the busy-ness of life and look at what God has created, and the talents he has given us. The Church teaches that our work is to be an active participation in God’s ongoing work of creation. Our work must build up the world in beauty and splendor, carefully using but protecting the rich gifts of the earth, caring for and loving the poor as God himself loves them, and making the world a better place than we found it. That is the nature of the talents with which we have been entrusted, and we must busy ourselves making good use of them, because we don’t know when our Lord will return in glory to gather everything and everyone back to himself.

Today we are commanded to “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” We take up that call anew on this Labor Day, praising God for the goodness of creation and the blessing of our talents, and resolving to use all of that for his greater honor and glory. The Prayer after Communion sums up what we ask for on this day: “By doing the work you have entrusted to us, may we sustain our life on earth and build up your kingdom in faith.” Amen!

All Creatures of Our God and King

“All Creatures of Our God and King is one of my very favorite Catholic hymns. The tune is Lasst Uns Erfreuen, and it is also the tune for “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” (which is timely, with All Saints Day coming up this week!” The wonderful fall colors got me thinking along these lines today! This is one of many versions of the hymn seen on YouTube.

The text for “All Creatures” is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, which of course adds to its belovedness! The text for “Ye Watchers” is from John A.L. Riley.

 

All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
Refrain

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
Refrain

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
Refrain

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.
Refrain

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
Refrain

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
Refrain

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
Refrain

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Refrain

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Refrain

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
Refrain

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
Refrain

Autumn in Naperville

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Autumn is here in Naperville and I love it. I didn’t think we would get many nice colors this year with the weather we’ve had, but there are some nice oranges and reds in some of the trees around here. These are right at the corner outside the Church and provide a nice backdrop, depending on where you’re sitting in Church!

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Today’s Scriptures speak of the dignity and importance of women in the life of the world and of the Church. The first reading, of course, speaks of the creation of the first woman. She is not named, but is referred to as “woman” because “out of “her man’ this one has been taken.” The story is familiar: the man is put into a deep sleep and one of his ribs is taken and closed up with flesh. From this rib bone, the woman is fashioned. That the woman was formed from part of the man indicates the close partnership that exists between them: they are of one and the same flesh, created by one and the same God. This act of creation also creates a very important partnership: men and women are meant to be together, and their union is a sacramental sign of the life, breath, love and creating power of God.

The second woman we meet is the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel. The Gospels have a male-centric view that tends to say little about women, but this woman makes an impression. Her faith that Jesus can heal her daughter, and her persistence that he would hear her prayer, give us a model for our spiritual lives. For us disciples, a strong faith in Christ means never questioning his ability to act for our good, and never letting anything – not even the technicalities of a perceived mission – get in the way of acting on that faith. We too are called to steadfast faith, and persistent prayer.

It is only with the creation of the woman that the creation of the world and all that is in it is complete. The woman completes God the Creator’s vision for the world, and now everything and everyone is in place for the praise and glory of God. Looking at the women in today’s Liturgy of the Word, we should give praise for the completeness of God’s creating power, and renew our faith and the persistence of our life of prayer.