Have you finished your Christmas shopping? As you read my column, at best only seven shopping days remain. I had a visit from a long time parishioner this past week asking if I knew of a family within our parish that had a child who could use a new bicycle for Christmas. She had purchased bicycles for deserving children in Christmases past and wanted to do the same this year. I explained that there were several families that came to mind. After considerable thought, I further explained that there was a family in dire need but they had several children and one bicycle would most likely not suffice. I set up a meeting with the mother of the children and this benevolent parishioner. After talking for a short time, the parishioner offered to take the mother of these children on a shopping spree to purchase toys for her children for Christmas. I was very touched by this incredible act of kindness, so much so that I plan to emulate her efforts with my family during the Christmas season. This is yet another example of the amazing parishioners we have at St. John the Evangelist. While you are finishing up your last minute shopping, please do not forget those who may not be as fortunate this Christmas.
Another parishioner gave me the following story on the candy cane and its relevance to the Trinity. Although there is no historical evidence to support the claim, I feel it is very fitting at this time of year.
The Story of the Candy Maker who loved Jesus
There was a man who loved Jesus so much that he decided to do something special for Jesus’ birthday. Since he was a candy maker, he decided to use his talents to make a special candy to honor Jesus; so he designed the first candy cane.
If the candy cane is held upright, it is in the shape of a shepherd’s staff, which the shepherd uses as he watches over his sheep. Jesus is our shepherd. If the candy cane is turned upside-down it becomes the letter “J” for Jesus.
The scriptures tell us that by Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Jesus was beaten and stripes were put upon his back when he was crucified in payment for our sins. So the candy cane was made with red and white stripes to represent the blood of Jesus which washes away our sins and makes us pure and white as snow. One bold stripe represents our belief in one God who is Father to us all. The three fine stripes represent the Trinity: one God who has revealed Himself to us in three ways; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
There are a lot of candy canes in the stores today made with different colors, but they are not TRUE candy canes unless they are red and white and have one bold stripe and three fine stripes.
So when you see a candy cane this Christmas season, let it remind you of our Savior and the reason for His birth. For it is true, “with His stripes we are healed.” – Author unknown
As an active member of the Stewardship Council since its inception, I truly understand the importance of becoming involved in parish life. The goal of our Stewardship Council at St. John the Evangelist is to attain 100% participation by our parishioners in some sort of ministry. Many of you may be thinking that our goal is simply unattainable. I was of the same belief until attending numerous Stewardship conferences and hearing stories from catholic parishes nationwide that have attained this goal. We have over 50 active ministries within our parish, and I can guarantee that there is a place for you. Why do we not have 100% participation thus far? There is not one answer to this question, but I would bet that the overwhelming answer would be that those not participating in a parish ministry have not been asked or invited to do so. On January 28 and 29 we are hosting our second annual ministry fair in the ballroom of the Parish Life Center. The fair will be preceded by another ministry parade prior to each Mass. This will give you an opportunity to see all of the ministries prominently displayed before heading down to the fair following Mass. On behalf of the Clergy and Stewardship Council, I am cordially inviting you to attend the Ministry Fair. You will have the opportunity to visit booths for all of our ministries and choose one that fits your talents. Stewardship encompasses your gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure. Many, when hearing the term Stewardship, automatically think of the treasure component. While treasure is an integral component in the operation of the church, it is not the focus of Stewardship. It is, however, the result of your financial gifts which allows us to provide these many ministries within the parish. Without your gifts of treasure, the ministries would cease to exist. Thank you to all of our parishioners for your generous support.
And now for an awkward segway to the CFA……We are in the final home stretch with regards to the 2011 Catholic Faith Appeal. As you can see from the statistics, we are approximately $75,000.00 shy of our goal. We have less than one month from this weekend to exceed our goal for the year. We need your help to keep our streak alive. This will mark the fourth year straight that we have exceeded our goal after going nine years without doing so. Remember that stock donations may be made to the Diocese of Venice for the CFA by calling the development office at 941-484-9543. Many of you choose to make your annual gift at year’s end, whether it is in the form of stock or simply by check. As I have reiterated on numerous occasions, the CFA is the single most important component of our annual budget and by exceeding our goal, we relieve a lot of pressure with regards to operating “in the black” for the fiscal year. Thank you for your consideration in helping us exceed our goal.
In His work together,
Scott Schlossberg, MBA