Stewardship begins with prayer and an understanding that this concept is as old as the Scriptures. Although there are countless examples in the Old Testament of men and women using their gifts to honor God, our vision of stewardship is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. He prepared His apostles to carry on His teachings. “Come Follow Me” is not a suggestion; it is our mission as Christians. We use our gifts or talents to be disciples; to be the hands and feet of our Lord, to do what He would do if He were here in the flesh.
Posted (11-10-17) STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director. The book Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost and Making Church Matter, has challenged us to look at our approach to programming and what we want Church to be here at Ascension. After over a dozen years growing as a stewardship parish, we are now taking the next step to making disciples through ministry and mission.
Ministry is the service we offer within the parish. A few weeks ago, outreach cards were provided and our parishioners were asked to pray about serving just a few hours per month in a weekend ministry. If you did not get a ministry card or have not had the chance to fill out the card, simply CLICK HERE to submit your card online and let us know which ministry you are interested in. For additional information about our weekend ministries, scroll up and click on the “Ministries” main menu button and select any of the ministries shown in the drop down menu. We are praying for every person in the pew to give weekend ministry a try!
We have recently been introduced to the second component of how we are trying to Make Church Matter in our community through MISSION. The service we provide to others outside our parish is mission. Our parish Mission Committee has explored various ways we can serve the greater community. Using the book When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, and meeting with charitable agencies within the local community, a mission plan has been set that will provide those in need with a HAND UP, not simply a HAND OUT. Over the next few weekends during this season when we are reminded to give thanks for our many blessings, this mission plan will be shared and you will have the opportunity to be involved.
We are reminded of the tireless, devoted work of St. Teresa of Calcutta, that every act of service done with love is important, and mission can be found right here in our own community.
Please pray for our hearts to be open to mission!
These are the basic ideas in the Rebuilt model:
- It is orthodox in the Catholic faith,
- Dynamic and creative in the commitment to the New Evangelization,
- Changing the consumer culture,
- Reaching the lost – the unchurched, the de-churched, those away or hurt by the church,
- Making disciples, and
- Message and mission that matter.
With our parish mission statement: Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples we have been developing programs and processes based on the Rebuilt model. We have a vision and a plan for Ascension that will be presented over the next few weeks in the message series at all the Masses. This Vision message series will not only share the plans for the future of our parish, but will also provide inspiration for all of our parishioners to get out of the pews and serve.
If you are interested in learning more about Rebuilt or would like to read the book it is available in the parish Gift Shop for $10.
Posted 8-20-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director – Evangelization and discipleship are two scary words to most cradle Catholics. To many in the pews, these are words that are associated with Protestants, “born-again” Christians, and TV preachers. However, these two concepts are totally Catholic and as old as the Church that Jesus Christ established.
Before Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church, wrote the mega-million selling book, “Purpose Driven Life,” he carried his dog-eared copy of “Evangelii Nuntiandi” along with his bible. Pope Paul VI wrote “Evangelii Nuntiandi” – Evangelization in the Modern World – in 1975, and according to Pastor Warren, it is “the greatest pastoral document that has ever been written to this day.”
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” built upon the themes from Pope Paul VI, challenging us to “get out of the pews” and serve Jesus with our own hands and feet. Here at Ascension, we offer several first steps to serving and growing in discipleship. Our weekend ministers are vital to the Masses on Saturday and Sunday. CLICK HERE to find out more about all of the weekend ministries. There will also be a placement form at the link to help you find the ministry that is just right for you. You can also stop by the Information Booth in the Family Center after Mass to find out more about serving.
Our “INVEST & INVITE” campaign is your invitation to participate in evangelization: a first step in sharing the Good News of your Catholic faith. Your invitation to a friend or family member just might be the catalyst to bring that person back to Jesus and His Church. You might ask them if they would like to receive our daily prayer or check out our parish app. These simple “asks” are first steps in evangelization, but might make a huge impact to the faith journey of that friend or family member. DISCIPLESHIP? EVANGELIZATION? Both totally CATHOLIC and part of our baptismal call from Jesus!
Posted 7-31-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director – In our Ascension Daily Prayer during the month of June, we were “Seeking the Spirit” to get to know the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The month of July, we have been schooled and guided in wisdom and the ways of God by King Solomon, the author of the Book of Proverbs. During the month of August, the Ascension Daily Prayer will be inspired by St. Paul, who lived to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus.
The Life of Paul: A Story Worth Telling is the theme for our Small Groups for the next six weeks. Part of the vision for our parish is to share a consistent message, which is why our Small Groups and our Daily Prayer message will have the same theme. Why not join a small group for the rest of the summer and be inspired by the life of St. Paul? If you are interested in joining a Small Group, you can CLICK HERE to register online or stop by the Information Booth after Mass.
OVERVIEW OF THE SERIES: We will take this six weeks to look at the life of Paul. We will examine how Paul moved from the career driven, persecutor of Christians to the greatest proponent of Christianity. What’s the arc of the story of Paul? Paul was type A, a go getter, smart, educated, wanted to succeed, and then he writes, “Whatever things were gain to me, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
Posted 6-19-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director – On Sunday, June 18th we celebrated the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, also known as the Feast of Corpus Christi. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “We all know, when we look at the cross, how much Jesus loved us. When we look at the Eucharist, we know how much He loves us now. In every Holy Communion, Jesus, the Word, becomes Flesh in our life, a special, delicate, beautiful gift of God;”
This feast is a celebration of the Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. When the priest or the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion presents the host and says, “Body of Christ,” we respond, “AMEN.” In our minds and hearts we should be proclaiming with joy, “AMEN – I BELIEVE!” What a blessing and a gift to be able to be with Jesus and have Him become a part of us, as we, at each Mass participate in His Last Supper.
However, with that blessing of the Body of Christ, we have the responsibility to become His Hands and Feet; to be the Body of Christ for Him. As His disciples, we are called to continue His ministry in the Church and mission in the world. We honor Jesus in the Holy Eucharist by sharing Him with others in all that we say and do. Do others see Jesus in us? We invite you to explore ministry in the parish; to serve at one of the weekend Masses. Stop by the Information Booth after Mass and fill out a green ministry interest card or go to our ministry website, ascensionchurch.tv and click on the green bar, Ministry Interest Form. Also, at the Information Booth in the Family Center, you can pick up a list of charities outside the parish who need your mission work.
Posted 6-12-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director. On Sunday, June 11th we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The past few weeks have been filled with special celebrations in our Church. Last week was Pentecost Sunday; next week is Corpus Christi; and this week we focus on the great mystery of our One Glorious God in Three Unique Persons.
A Google search of “Holy Trinity” will result in a whopping 35 MILLION hits! So many websites, pages and bloggers trying to explain and understand this sacred mystery. The following is a reflection based on today’s scripture readings; an excerpt from Catholic Stewardship Consultants, (catholicsteward.com).
“The idea of the Holy Trinity, the reality of it, has always been something that is difficult for us as humans to comprehend and understand. During the Eleventh Synod of Toledo in Spain (675 AD), the Holy Catholic Church declared the following: “We confess and we believe that the holy and indescribable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one only God in His nature, a single substance, a single nature, a single majesty and power. We acknowledge Trinity in the distinction of persons; we profess Unity because of the nature or substance. The three are one, as a nature, that is, not as person. Nevertheless, these three persons are not to be considered separable, since we believe that no one of them existed or at any time affected anything before the other, after the other, or without the other.”
It may be difficult for us to sort through that, but we receive so many confirmations of the Trinity in Holy Scripture, that it is impossible not to accept it. In fact, it is at the core of our Catholic beliefs. We ask ourselves, “What kind of a person is this Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” Our First Reading from Exodus calls God a “merciful and gracious” God.
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul closes with the statement “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” That may seem a simple and basic closing (we hear it at every Mass), but again there is so much in it for us, including the inclusion again of the Trinity as One. This is the one and only time in the entire New Testament where the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are mentioned together in this kind of a blessing. It is indicative that through the Holy Trinity we are completely blessed by all Three, everything that God truly is. As Catholics and Christians we seek and enjoy the grace, the love, and the communion of the Holy Trinity.
The opening of our Gospel Reading from St. John is perhaps the most quoted and used Bible verse of all, JOHN 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” How often have we seen someone at an athletic event or elsewhere hold up a sign that says simply “John 3:16?” God gave us an incredible gift, a grace beyond all others. And it is given to “everyone who believes in Him.” We should believe and follow and serve in order to receive the benefit of God’s love.
Believing is much more than being aware of the Trinity or agreeing with it. It means that we trust God and we rely upon Him in His Trinitarian reality. Trusting in God is at the heart of our faith. Trusting in God is at the very core of living lives of stewardship, as a disciple.
Everything that has been revealed to us and to which we have been responding through Lent, the Triduum, the Easter season, and now these Holy Days and celebrations that have followed, leads to the conclusion and the appreciation of the Holy Trinity. God is good — all the time!”
Posted 5-28-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director. We recently celebrated our parish Feast Day: The Ascension of Our Lord. Traditionally, this day is Ascension Thursday, but is now most generally transferred to the Sunday celebration of Mass.
The Ascension of Our Lord, which occurred 40 days after Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter, is the final act of our redemption that Christ began on Good Friday. “On this day, the risen Christ, in the sight of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven.” [Luke 24:51, Mark 16:19, Acts 1:9-11]
At the time of his Ascension, Jesus promises his followers that a helper, the Holy Spirit, will follow to give them strength for the mission that He has asked them to do; to GO and MAKE disciples and SHARE His good news with all nations. We will celebrate this promise on Pentecost Sunday.
During this week between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday, pray about HOW and IF you are following the mission that Jesus asked of His followers on that day of Ascension. Our logo Ascend@Ascension, is an action statement lived out by our mission statement. Have you participated or joined in when we have asked you to STEP UP in service in a weekend ministry? Have you taken part in our INVEST and INVITE initiative: inviting a friend or family member back to Mass?
This week, celebrate our parish feast day of the Ascension of Our Lord with reflection on how you can help Jesus, right here and right now, build His kingdom in Boca Raton.
Posted 4-23-17 STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – by Cindy Nau, Communications Director. Happy Easter! Although our calendar shows Easter was celebrated on April 16th, it’s more than just one Holy Day. Easter begins the fifty period leading up to Pentecost. The following information is an excerpt from www.catholic.org:
WHAT IS THE OCTAVE OF EASTER: The period from Easter Sunday through Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Easter Sunday) is an especially joyful time. The Catholic Church refers to these eight days (counting both Easter Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday) as the Octave of Easter. Every day in the Octave of Easter is so important that it is treated as a continuation of Easter Sunday itself.
HOW MANY DAYS DOES THE EASTER SEASON LAST: The Easter season doesn’t end after the Octave of Easter: Because Easter is the most important feast in the Christian calendar – even more important than Christmas – the Easter season continues on for 50 days, through the Ascension of Our Lord to Pentecost – seven full weeks after Easter Sunday.
HOW MANY DAYS ARE BETWEEN EASTER AND PENTECOST? 49 OR 50? But wait – if Pentecost Sunday is the seventh Sunday after Easter Sunday, shouldn’t that mean that the Easter season is only 49 days long? After all, seven weeks times seven days is 49 days, right? There’s no problem with your math. But just as we count both Easter Sunday and Divine Mercy Sunday in the Octave of Easter, so too we count both Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday in the 50 days of the Easter season.
HAVE A HAPPY EASTER – ALL 50 DAYS! So even after Easter Sunday has passed, and the Octave of Easter has passed keep on celebrating and wishing your friends a Happy Easter! Pick up half-price Easter peeps, chocolates and jelly beans and enjoy! Most of all, use this joyful liturgical time of the Church year to get to know the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, by reading your Bible, especially the book of Acts.
During the Easter season, prayerfully consider how you can offer your gifts to our parish through weekend ministry. Your gifts – your smile, your hands and feet – will make a difference at Ascension!
Posted 4-16-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – Our Savior Lives! The Life Teen website is a wonderful source of inspirational writing by young bloggers. Jay Martin captures the exciting spirit of the Resurrection in a recent blog; this young man is in love with Jesus and alive in his Catholic faith. CLICK HERE to read his entire blog.
During the 50 days of Easter, we will offer a new daily prayer series. If you have the parish app on you mobile phone or tablet, you will automatically receive it. You will also continue to receive the daily prayer by email if you are signed up and you can always visit our website Home Page at your convenience. To sign up for the prayer by email, simply visit ascensionchurch.tv. You can download our app by going to your App Store on the iPhone or Google Play Store on an android phone. If you need help with either, please stop by the Information Booth in the Family Center for assistance.
During the Easter season, prayerfully consider how you can offer your gifts to our parish through weekend ministry. Your gifts – your smile, your hands and feet – will make a difference at Ascension!
Posted 3-20-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – “Church” – Is it a noun or a verb? When Jesus Christ established “church” over 2000 years ago, did He intend it to mean buildings OR communities of action?
Our parish mission statement to LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS, MAKE DISCIPLES is one of action. It challenges us, as Catholic Christians, to “be” church not “to church.” It’s not about “doing” church better but “being” church better. To “be church” to others, we must get out of the pew, out of our own personal prayers and often, out of our comfort zone to bring others to Jesus. That was Jesus’ last commandment before He ascended into heaven – “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” [Mt 28:19-20]
We cannot keep this command with an hour of Mass on Sunday. Instead, we are charged with bringing others, sharing with others, helping others, inspiring others. We have to “be church” to encourage others to want to know Jesus. A few weeks ago, several of us attended a church leadership conference called Catalyst. A catalyst is a substance (noun) that creates a reaction; a spark, a stimulus that makes things happen. We listened to two gifted Protestant pastors of mega churches that are filled with young people who are serving and living the mission of the church. Yet, although their churches are thriving, they are not complacent in their success. Church must continually step outside the comfort zone because growth and comfort cannot coexist. One of great challenges for church is how to grow and remain relevant in today’s largely secular society. We can’t profess our faith every Sunday at Mass if we aren’t willing to “be and share” our faith. Take some time this week to reflect on these questions:
- “How can I be “church” to others?
- How can I step out of my comfort zone to love God, love others and make disciples?
- Am I open to changing “the church” to “being church?”
Posted 2-20-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It is the perfect time to examine our faith journey; to take bold steps to a deeper, more personal walk with Jesus. We have all been challenged to think about where we are in our discipleship journey. One suggestion was to join a small group to share prayer, community and personal faith: small groups, where our big church becomes smaller and more personal. Groups are 6-12 people who meet to discuss faith, go deeper in the weekly message, and support one another in their relationship with Christ. This is the place to care for others and be cared for; a place to impact our community and the world.
Lent is the perfect time to join a small group. We are offering a 5-week Just For Lent series that will help you grow in your discipleship and faith life.
During Lent, our priests will be preaching a Sunday message series that will also correspond to the message our Small Groups are using each week. This is a thought-provoking series entitled Catholic Atheist. The series is about the many ways we profess to believe God and believe in Him, but our thoughts and actions show that we do not really trust in Him. The weekly message topics are shown below:
- WEEK 1 – We believe in God, but are not sure He loves us.
- WEEK 2 – We believe in God, but not in prayer.
- WEEK 3 – We believe in God, but still worry all the time.
- WEEK 4 – We believe in God, but do not know Him.
- WEEK 5 – We believe in God, but do not believe we can change.
Click Here to help us find the Small Group that is just right for you.
Posted 2-12-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP – the final step, the greatest commitment, the truest leap of faith, is the final of the five stages that lead to becoming an active follower of Jesus Christ. In her best selling book, “Forming Intentional Disciples,” author Sherry Weddell describes a five stage spiritual path: Initial Trust, Spiritual Curiosity, Spiritual Openness, Spiritual Seeking and Intentional Discipleship. She explains that some Christians remain fixed in the initial stages, never reaching or even desiring to become a truly committed disciple. This is what Weddell calls the “dropping the net” moment. The image comes from the story of St. Peter dropping his nets in total trust, to leave behind his former life and livelihood, his social connections, his home and even his family and choosing to follow Jesus Christ wherever He went. She states that it is the single most important decision a person can possibly make (which is why Jesus calls us to count the cost). But it is the ultimate goal of the Christian life — all Christian lives, not just converts. It is an act of daily, intentional conversion for each and every person in the pew.
“The intentional disciple has made a searching, deliberate act of the will to follow Jesus. It is as far from passivity, indifference, cultural Catholicism or vague and formless pop “spirituality” as you can get. The intentional disciple is now actively cultivating the habit of subordinating all his or her needs, wants, desires, plans and earthly loves to the God who is love, incarnate, crucified and risen in the person of Jesus Christ. Like Thomas, confronted with the risen Christ, his response is “My Lord and my God!” – Sherry Weddell
Joining a small group is a path to discipleship, as Jesus initially formed His small group of twelve. You can join a group by filling out an interest card at the Info Booth inside the Family Center or online at ascensionchurch.tv
Posted 2-5-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – In the book, “Forming Intentional Disciples,” author Sherry Weddell introduces us to the five stages to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ and His teachings: Initial Trust, Spiritual Curiosity, Spiritual Openness, Spiritual Seeking and Intentional Discipleship. Initial Trust is when a person is able to have a positive association with Jesus Christ, the Church, a Christian believer or something identifiably Christian. Trust is not the same as active, personal faith. Without some kind of bridge of trust in place, people will not move closer to God. Spiritual Curiosity is the next step after trust is established. The spiritually curious, often shyly and hesitantly, find themselves drawn toward wanting to know more about Jesus, the Church, the Bible and the whole “Catholic thing.” A person who is spiritually curious is interested in learning more. Spiritual Openness and Spiritual Seeking are the next steps toward the final step of Intentional Discipleship. Openness is not a commitment to change, but it is the critical point when a person acknowledges to self and to God that he or she is open to the possibility of personal and spiritual change. It is at this stage that the seeker would be most open to an invitation to attend Mass or a small group, one on one time together reading the Gospels, sharing books or CDs from Catholic authors such as Matthew Kelly or Dr. Scott Hahn. Then comes the Seeking stage where the person is no longer satisfied by just reading, exploring, sitting on the sidelines and observing. The Seeker knows that the core relationship is now with God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. In short, the seeker is seeking Jesus, not an abstraction. It is at this stage that the person might enter RCIA or pursue bible studies or classes that dive deeper into the Catholic faith. Many active, practicing Catholics, and even those Catholics who are away from the Church, are stuck in the Openness and Seeking stages, although they may not realize it. Their Catholicism is defined by attending Sunday Mass, or even daily Mass, praying the Rosary, giving to the Church, and making sure they and their children have received the Sacraments. While these stages are comfortable, familiar, and necessary, the next step to Intentional Discipleship requires the greatest leap of faith and commitment. We will explore the final step next week.
Posted 1-29-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP –
“You will never walk on water if you don’t get out of the boat.”
In 2002, John Rothberg wrote a book based on the above, anonymous quote that Fr. Carl used in his homily last week, “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.” It was the winner of the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award during a time when Rick Warren’s book, “Purpose Driven Life” and other discipleship books were the basis of bible studies and small faith sharing groups. The following write up and promotion for Ortberg’s book is the ultimate “tease” for spiritual curiosity:
You’re One Step Away from the Adventure of Your Life! Deep within you lies the same faith and longing that sent Peter walking across the wind-swept Sea of Galilee toward Jesus. In what ways is the Lord telling you, as he did Peter, “Come”? John Ortberg invites you to consider the incredible potential that awaits you outside your comfort zone. Out on the risky waters of faith, Jesus is waiting to meet you in ways that will change you forever, deepening your character and your trust in God. The experience is terrifying! It’s thrilling beyond belief! “It’s everything you’d expect of someone worthy to be called Lord.”
Wow! “The incredible potential that awaits you outside your comfort zone?” “The risky waters of faith?” “Terrifying?” “Thrilling?” Those sound like descriptions for a scary, action movie. However, doesn’t it peak your curiosity to find out more about this challenge to discipleship? Last week we explored the first of five steps toward Intentional Discipleship, based on a book by Sherry Weddell. These five steps are:
- Initial Trust,
- Spiritual Curiosity,
- Spiritual Openness,
- Spiritual Seeking, and finally,
- Intentional Discipleship.
Initial Trust was described as simply having a positive association with Jesus, the Church, all things Christian and the Christians he or she encounters. To see Christianity in action and not just as doctrine will be the inspiration for Initial Trust. Spiritual Curiosity is the next step towards discipleship: when a person is intrigued by or desiring to know more about Jesus or some aspect of the Christian faith. This can range from mere awareness of a new possibility to something quite intense and proactive. Nevertheless, a person at the threshold of curiosity is not yet open to personal change. Curiosity is still essentially passive, but it’s more than mere trust. This is NOT the time to bombard the person with classes, theology and the rubrics of the Church. However, this person might be open to an invitation to Mass or the gift of a Bible or book about faith in Jesus. This person would be open to hearing your faith story to discipleship and a real relationship with Jesus Christ. The person who is at the Spiritual Curiosity stage will not usually initiate “God talks” but normally won’t dismiss an authentic sharing of ideas with someone they trust. Interestingly, Jesus used this method with the spiritually curious, of answering questions with questions or with answers designed to provoke more questions. “Why do you call me good?” (Mk 10:18). “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15). “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51). What is the story of your faith journey and how can you inspire a spiritually curious friend or family member to take a step “out of the boat” toward discipleship?
Posted 1-22-17 by Cindy Nau, STEP UP TO DISCIPLESHIP – In his homily last weekend, Fr. Carl challenged us to look at evangelization as something we are called to do for Jesus and His Church, especially in relationship to our own baptism. Many view evangelization as door-to-door recruiting, TV preachers, and imposing your beliefs on others. The term appears throughout many writings in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, but evangelization is best defined as simply “the witness of the baptized.” (CCC 2044, 2472)
According to Mark Shea, editorial writer and reviewer for Our Sunday Visitor, “Forming Intentional Disciples” is one of the most “important Catholic books of this decade.” The author, Sherry Weddell, writes that before Catholics evangelize others, they must first make a choice to know and follow Jesus themselves. Weddell’s book is designed to help Catholics along that path to discipleship. She addresses the core issue facing the Church in our time: How to foster a culture in which all Catholics consciously see themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ living according to His will and as apostles sent into the world to proclaim Him to others. Weddell lists five stages of spiritual growth that typify the path to conversion:
- Initial Trust,
- Spiritual Curiosity,
- Spiritual Openness,
- Spiritual Seeking, and
- Intentional Discipleship.
Conversion is, in the Church’s thinking, not simply for “converts,” non-Catholics who are joining the Catholic communion, but for everybody. In the Church’s thinking, not just Scott Hahn, G.K. Chesterton or Saul of Tarsus experienced conversion. “Cradle Catholics” like Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Blaise Pascal and Teresa of Avila also had profound conversion experiences that transformed them. So must we! Continuing conversion is necessary for all as we walk the road to Christ. Over the next few weeks, the five steps to conversion will be explored. If you are interested in going deeper and would like to purchase the book, we have a few copies in the Gift Shop or it is available on Amazon. Call Cindy Nau for more information, 561-654-6085.
INITIAL TRUST: Where a person is able to have a positive association with Jesus Christ, the Church, a Christian believer or something identifiably Christian. Trust is not the same as active personal faith. Without some kind of bridge of trust in place, people will not move closer to God. Our Sunday Visitor writer, Mark Shea, cited a personal example from his college days. He writes: “When I was 20 years old, I went home for Thanksgiving break only to return to my dorm with a case of Martian Stomach Flu so virulent that I found the prospect of a quick death rather appealing for a day or two. In the midst of this, I received a phone call from a friend living on “the Christian floor” of my dorm. I mumbled something about my illness and hung up. About a half an hour later, there was a knock at my door and I heaved myself up from my bed of suffering, my face smeared with drool, and answered it. It was a young woman named Sandy MacKinnon, who I did not know from Eve, but who lived on the Christian floor. She said, “I heard you were sick. I brought you this” and brandished a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. It’s been 35 years, but I have never forgotten that. With that one act of kindness to a stranger, done simply out of generosity, she won my trust. And eventually, by the integrity of their lives as Christians, the rest of the fellowship of Christians on her dorm floor did likewise. Lives lived in joy, generosity and integrity — not for show, but for the glory of Christ — can and do break down walls of distrust and give off a sweet aroma of beauty that people follow.”
“We will never change the world by going to Church; we will only change the world by being the Church.” (anonymous quote)
Posted 1-15-17 by Cindy Nau. For nearly a dozen years, I have been writing articles for our bulletin and website devoted to topics related to stewardship as a way of life at Ascension. However, the past two years, we have been asking you to look at stewardship as DISCIPLESHIP, which is your decision to put stewardship into action through ministr. So now, rather than urging you to take small stesp to stewardship, we want you to STEP UP to Discipleship. We want every parishioner to Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples (our parish mission statement) and ASCEND @ ASCENSION (our parish theme/logo).
This new year, please consider:
Participating in a minstry to serve at the weekend Masses – Lector, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Usher, Greeter, member of Music Ministry, Technology Team member or helper in the Holy Grounds Café. We have 6 Masses every weekend and need a minimum of 20 volunteer ministers at each Mass. We need you!
Joining a small group – Jesus formed the first small group to lead them into a closer relationship with Him and with each other. Our small groups meet for the same reason; all discussing the same message, forming a bond with each other and with the Lord.
Inviting someone to Mass – We all know someone who has been away from the Church that just might come back with a personal invitation. (Invest and Invite)
Staying connected – Keep in touch with Ascension on a daily basis and even when you are away. In addition to our parish website, visit our ministry website and consider adding our parish app on your smart phone or tablet (available at myparishapp.com or in your Apple app store or Google Play store).
ASCEND @ ASCENSION
Posted 1-8-17 by Cindy Nau. Matthew Kelly’s newest book, Resisting Happiness, was our parish gift to you for Christmas. If you have ever read any of Matthew’s books, or have had the opportunity to hear him speak (he was at Ascension two years ago), he is committed to bringing people into a relationship with Jesus. He is a strong, faithful Catholic who speaks less about the practices of the Church and more about our faithfulness to prayer, self-discipline and the personal practices in our lives that will lead us closer to God. This book is an easy to read, step-by-step guide to overcoming our own self-imposed obstacles to finding time with the Lord. It is a wonderful book to share with friends and family who might be away from God right now. Take the time to read it for yourself, then pass it along to someone who might benefit from the simple, basics steps back to faith. If you did not get your copy of Resisting Happiness during the Christmas or New Year’s weekend Masses, please stop by our Information Booth in the Family Center or visit the office during the week to pick up a copy.
What are your goals for 2017? If you joined a Small Group during our Just 4 Advent message series, we hope your group has decided to stay together for the next series: Greater Than. If you haven’t joined a Small Group yet, you can sign up for a group at the Information Booth or Click Here to help us find the Small Group that is right for you. Make 2017 the year to step up, get involved and deepen your faith!
Posted 10-2-16 by Cindy Nau. “The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith.” [Luke 17:5] The first line of this Gospel reading speaks volumes about how we should approach our lives in the Church. Is it enough to simply come to Mass, sit in the pew, listen, pray a bit and leave; repeat again next Sunday? No, not according to the command that Jesus gave His followers, which includes you and me today.
He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) In what is called the Great Commission, Jesus was telling us that WE are responsible for building the Kingdom here on earth; WE are His Hands and Feet; We are responsible for bringing others into the Light of His Truth. That is how our own faith will increase: by increasing our participation in the Mission of His Church.
So we would like to ask each and every person in the pews to make a commitment to get involved in a ministry of service: service for our week-ends. Our vigil Mass on Saturday and our Sunday Masses are our “business days.” We need as many volunteer ministers as possible to be involved to welcome, to serve, to encourage our visitors and even our regular attendees to return each week to worship with us. Can there be too many greeters at the door, offering a hello and a friendly smile? Can there be too many voices praising the Lord in our choir? Are there too many helping hands and friendly faces in our Holy Grounds Café? Would it be a problem to have 3 or 4 altar servers at each Mass or double the amount of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion? The answer is NO to all of these questions! We can never have TOO MANY volunteer ministers, and right now, we don’t have enough. Please join us in ministry today! You are wanted and needed!
Posted 9-25-16 by Cindy Nau.
One of the great blessings of our Catholic faith is that we can go to Mass anywhere in the world, and still celebrate the same Mass together. We hear the same readings, the same Gospel, proclaim the same responses and prayers. Last Sunday, I was blessed to be with my husband, Jim, at St. Augustine-by-the-Sea on Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, which was directly across the street from our hotel. We attended 6 a.m. Mass (yes, you are reading this right, 6:00 A.M.) and it was FULL of locals and tourists, very joyfully worshipping together with music and singing! It is so encouraging to see the Church alive and important to the tourists and the locals alike.
On Monday morning, I decided to attend the morning prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours and was pleased to sit with 50+ people at 6:30 a.m. to begin the day with the Lord. The prayers began with this antiphon, “Encourage each other daily while it is still today.” Hebrews 3:13. Then, at Mass following the morning prayer, the deacon gave the perfect homily on the Gospel reading from Luke 8,“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed, rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. He challenged that if we, who are sitting in the pews don’t go out and share the Good News and invite others to share in the joy of knowing Jesus, we are hiding and hoarding our faith. Our faith is the “light” that we are commanded to share, so that others will know Jesus.
Posted 9-4-16 by Cindy Nau. The Sacredness of Work Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt. 11:28-30)
To celebrate this Labor Day, let us begin by going to the Lord, laying our burdens at the foot of His Cross and giving over our hearts that we might find rest. Scripture is filled with passages about the glory of work; and as disciples, we should offer up our labor to honor the Lord. We offer our work as the hands and feet of Christ, especially when we are serving our brothers and sisters in need. We lift up our prayers for those who are looking for work and for those forced into subservient, illicit or unjustified labor.
We should have a sense of pride that our Catholic Church has always taken a strong stand on the dignity and rights of the worker. The following is taken directly from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on Catholic Social Teaching: This is What We Believe –
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected–the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to the organization and joining of unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
Posted 8-21-16 by Cindy Nau. Can you name our Ascension Parish Mission Statement? Simply put, a mission statement is a declaration of an organization’s purpose. It should be clear and concise and explain who you are and why you exist. Author and management consultant, Peter Drucker said, “Your mission statement should fit on a T-Shirt.” Renowned author, speaker, coach and trainer, Laurie Beth Jones defines three basic elements of a mission statement:
“(1) No more than a single sentence long, (2) Easily understood by a twelve-year-old, and (3) Should be able to recite from memory at gunpoint.”
In his book, Divine Renovation: From Maintenance to Missional Parish, Fr. James Mallon shares a story about his image of the Church in renewal and evangelization:
“The Church is like a photocopier. It exists to make copies. It does this by drawing the paper unto itself. This is evangelization.Then it prints, copies, collates, staples and punches holes. This is discipleship (baptized, taught, formed). Then it spits out the paper with the imprinted word that can go and change the world; after all, history has proven that the pen is mightier than the sword. This is missioning. The Church is at its best with this kind of cycle. She evangelizes and makes disciples and sends them out….to make more disciples who can be baptized and taught and sent out. When the Church is healthy, she does this. When the Church is not healthy, when she is turned into herself, forgetting and ignoring the great calling of Jesus, the Church becomes an overheated, jammed photocopier that sits in a corner, collecting dust and is eventually forgotten.”
Ascension’s Mission Statement is one of action, taken from the great commandment and commission given by Jesus:
Love God, Love Others, Make Disciples
We continue to be inspired to become a Parish of Mission rather than a Parish of Maintenance. We are doing this through welcoming, gathering, small groups and message. Will you step up to help us keep the “photocopier” running and producing or are you going to resist change, complain and “jam the machine?” Please pray about serving the parish through ministry and click on the link below to find out more and complete out Ministry Interest Form.
Posted 8-7-16 by Cindy Nau. In our readings today, St. Paul tells us that “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1) Then in the Gospel, Jesus is once again challenging us to think about how we view our possessions, our money, our gifts and talents. These past few weeks have been stewardship lessons on our trust and faith in God, that He will bless us with enough and what we need IF we put our faith in Him and His plan for our lives. As Fr. Carl so simply stated in his homily last weekend: “God is God and we are not!”
In the July issue of Southwest Airlines Magazine, Gary Kelly, the President and CEO stated that at Southwest, hospitality is both a company-wide focus and an individual goal for every single one of the 50,000 plus employees. He states, “We’re obsessed with it. We seek to hire people who are others oriented and who have a Servant’s Heart.” Now, doesn’t this sound like the ultimate, ideal goal for our Church? Hospitality is one of the pillars of stewardship and a key to discipleship. We cannot attract people to our doors and engage them to become members of our parish if we aren’t welcoming. Being welcoming and engaging is NOT the sole responsibility of the clergy. In fact, it is the duty of each and every person in the pews to invite and engage others. Consider this quote from “Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium” (from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops):
“We consider lay participation in church life at all levels a gift of the Holy Spirit, given for the common good. Laity can and should exercise responsible participation both individually and in groups, not only at the invitation of church leadership but by their own initiative.”
Jesus calls each of us to discipleship, which means we are challenged not only to share our time, talent and treasure to build His Kingdom, but to challenge others to join us in this mission. It is pointless to evangelize if we are not then welcoming with a “Servant Heart.” Once again, we ask and invite you to “step up to ministry” and join us in our mission to make Ascension a more vibrant parish, alive in the Love and Mission of Jesus Christ. You can register for ministry on our Small Groups/Ministry website, www.ascensionchurch.tv or visit our Information Booth after Mass to have one of our ministers assist you.
Posted 7-17-16 by Cindy Nau. There are many reasons that people give for not getting involved, for not volunteering. “I used to volunteer up north.” “I work all the time.” “I am too busy with my family.” “I don’t have time.” “No one has asked me.” “I don’t have anything to offer.” There is an expression, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person.”
Giving your time and talent to your church and community FEELS GOOD and MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Those who are active volunteers are usually the first to step up and make time to do more. “Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium” is a document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops written about the important role of the laity in the life of the Church. We, as disciples, are called to holiness, community, mission and ministry. The Bishops quote: “We consider lay participation in church life at all levels a gift of the Holy Spirit, given for the common good. Laity can and should exercise responsible participation both individually and in groups, not only at the invitation of church leadership but by their own initiative.”
Consider the following message as you continue to discern your God-given gifts and the ways you can share your talents with the Church:
My church is composed of people like me. I help make it what it is. It will be friendly, if I am friendly. Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them. It will do great work, if I work. It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver. It will bring other people into its worship and fellowship, if I invite and bring them. It will be a church of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, and a church with a noble spirit, if I who make it what it is, am filled with these same things. Therefore, with the help of God, I shall dedicate myself to the task of being all the things that I want my church to be.
Posted 7-10-16 by Cindy Nau. In today’s Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus gives His disciples (and us) the Great Commandment: to love God with all your heart, mind and being and to love your neighbor as yourself. In essence, He said that if we put God above all things and treat others as we wish to be treated, we will live as He wants us to live. A simple restatement of the Ten Commandments, but not the easiest for us to fulfill. The following blog from Catholic Stewardship Consultants explains this teaching in light of the Year of Mercy.
Posted 6-26-16 by Cindy Nau, Stewardship Director. We have been challenged by Pope Francis during this Jubilee Year of Mercy to take our stewardship to the next level, focusing on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Last week you were reminded about our Mercy Jar; to share your works of mercy. The corporal works of mercy come to us from Matthew 25:34-40, where Jesus tells us that whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to Him. Below are some simple and some not so simple ideas to get you started. As Pope Francis said, “True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.” If he can do it, so can you! Consider adding a few of these suggestions to your summer “bucket list” and even make some of these family projects. Then please remember to share the “good news” in the Mercy Jar behind the Jubillee Year of Mercy Banner near the altar.
Make sandwiches and pass them out to the homeless.
Take a friend out to lunch – your treat!
Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen.
Prepare and take a meal to someone who is ill, who has a newborn or needs help.
Pass out bottled water to the homeless.
Pay for the coffee of the person behind you at a coffee shop.
Donate baby formula to a pregnancy center.
Go through your closet and give away what you don’t need.
Collect blankets, towels, toiletries for a homeless shelter.
Help with a Habitat for Humanity building project.
Volunteer at a hospital; especially needed in the summer!
Take the Eucharist to someone who is homebound.
Volunteer to call or play bingo, or play cards with residents at a nursing home.
Collect bibles and spiritual reading material to donate to a prison.
Volunteer at a hospice program.
Help a widow or widower with errands or yard work.
Visit the cemetery and pray for the dead.
Attend funerals in your parish.
Ideas from www.focusoncampus.org
Posted 6-16-16 by Cindy Nau. If you have downloaded our Ascension Parish App on your smartphone or tablet, the information below will help you to use it more effectively. If you haven’t downloaded the app, DO IT NOW!! Simply click on the icon to the left to get the FREE app. After you have downloaded it, choose “Ascension.”
USING THE ASCENSION PARISH APP
- The background on the home page is the Ascension stained glass window. You can always return to the homepage by pressing the four small squares in the upper right corner. To refresh your page and display updates, press the three lines in the upper left corner.
- When you first open the app, the most current message and today’s readings will appear. Press the four small squares in the upper right corner to close the messages and return to the home page.
- The top two headlines will show the time of the next Mass at Ascension and when your next scheduled confession will be heard (if you do not schedule your confessions, “Not Available” will be displayed).
- The MESSAGES button displays your current and past messages. Some messages may show the calendar icon, which you can press to display the “Featured Events” page. The full calendar can also be viewed from this page. You can reply to messages by pressing the arrow in the lower right corner. You can share the messages by pressing the “SHARE” symbol (small left pointing arrow).
- The CALENDAR button shows featured events and allows you to view the full calendar by pressing “Full Calendar.”
- The READINGS button will access the daily readings.
- The HOMILIES button will take you to a bar that says Ascension Homilies. Press the blue arrow to go to the ascensionchurch.tv website where you can listen to many recent homilies from Ascension and visiting priests.
- The NEWS button will display news from the Vatican or articles relating to the Catholic Church.
- The GIVING button will take you to a page about stewardship and where you can navigate to Faith Direct, our online giving vendor. You will be able to enroll in Faith Direct or make a one-time gift to Ascension.
- The RESOURCES button shows the national paid sponsors of the app and national Catholic events.
- The CONFESSION AND MASS TIME button displays our confession and Mass schedule.
- The PRAYERS button will display an extensive list of Catholic prayers; very handy to have at your fingertips!
- The BULLETIN button gives you access to our weekly bulletin and the most recent 5 issues.
- The REFLECTIONS button features Dr. Scott Hahn and daily talks that you can either listen to or read.
- The PARISH INFO is extremely useful and allows you to call, Email or provide a direct link to our online features. For example, you can follow the links to find our more about small groups at Ascension or you can press the Liturgical Ministry Schedule link to find out if you are scheduled to serve at one of the weekend Masses.
Download the app today and explore everything going on at Ascension!
Posted 5-29-16 by Cindy Nau. We are now in our “off-season” mode and things are a bit quieter around the parish. Most activities, meetings and events are done for the summer or are meeting less frequently. Some of our small groups continue to meet and we welcome you to join one if you are around for the summer! However, our weekend Masses continue as usual and we need many volunteer ministers to make our parish welcoming and functioning. For each Mass, we ideally need:
- 3-4 Greeters
- 3-4 Ushers
- 1 Lector
- 5 Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
- 2 Altar Servers
- Technical Ministers
- Music Ministers
We also need help after Mass in the Family Center assisting parishioners and guests at our Information Booth and helping at the Holy Grounds Cafe. This is a special appeal for volunteers to assist at the cafe as we will be unable to open after Masses in the summer without additional help. Please consider joining us on the weekend! For additional information, please call the Parish Office at 561-997-5486.