Blogger’s Note: For those few of you who still follow this blog and don’t attend St. Michael Catholic Church, the article below was published in the Sunday, Sept. 14, church bulletin as part of a regular monthly faith formation column.
This weekend’s Fall Festival is a great opportunity to support our parish and grow in community. Surely it is a sign of life in our local Body of Christ that so many people spend this weekend here, year after year, in fellowship and service. The chairpeople and volunteers, the sponsors and donors, and everyone who works to make this weekend a success deserve our gratitude – so please remember them in your prayers!
It also important, however, that we remember why we do these things. This summer, a friend shared an article with me entitled “Vibrant Isn’t About Busy: Organizing Parish Life for Discipleship.” The article made the case that while an abundance of activities and programs might seem important for attracting people to the faith, quite often these programs are actually distracting from activities like prayer and the sacraments that promote spiritual growth. Parishioners can find themselves so caught up in the busy-ness of it all that they forget that these offerings are not an end in themselves. They only matter if they lead us closer to God and heaven.
With that in mind, you should notice a distinct shift in the emphasis and tone of our faith formation activities this year, beginning with LIFT-Off, our program kickoff event on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 6:30 p.m. In years past, LIFT-Off has been a combination of entertainment and logistics—something fun for the kids, along with information and scheduling details for the parents. This year, instead, we are opening LIFT-Off with Mass, followed by a brief personal witness or two about the power of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to transform families. This is a great opportunity to spend a little extra time with Our Lord at the beginning of the academic year, and we’d like to invite everyone in the parish to join us and pray for the success of our faith formation and sacramental programs.
If you haven’t been to a weekday Mass recently, know that both the Mass and the witness should last only about an hour combined. Confirmation families will need to stay a bit longer to meet with Father and me about sacramental preparation; everyone else should be free by about 7:30 p.m. to pick up their LIFT materials and head home. Our goal is to give you an opportunity to spend some time with God giving thanks for His blessings and specifically praying about the needs of your family.
It’s not always easy to commit to family faith formation, weekly or daily Mass, or regular Confession—but we know that parents who make prayer and the sacraments a priority in their lives have children who do the same. We also know that, with a heart open to God’s graces, what starts as an obligation can become a habit and then a joy. Please consider this year’s LIFT-Off to be a step toward a sacramental life and a renewed relationship with Jesus, and take great hope in His reassuring words to us from the Gospel of Matthew: “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.”