Bulletin (August 24, 2003)

This August has been a busy month. The second session of our Vacation Bible Camp was a great success and on Saturday we had our annual Parish Picnic. I want to thank all those who worked on these events. Also a group of young men volunteered to clear of the newly purchased lot and the upper field. They did a great job.

A week from this Tuesday we begin a new school year at Holy Family. We have many challenges as a school and as a parish. With the help of the Lord, we can face them together. I pray that God will give each of us a refreshing week. On September 13, Abel Magaña will be ordained to the permanent diaconate. Abel, like Deacons Joe Dunne and Ted Wiese, is a married man with a family. He has worked as a pastoral associate here at Holy Family for the past seven years. We pray for Abel (and his wife Leticia) as they take this step.

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One of history's most daring leaders was a Spanish adventurer named Francisco Pizarro. Back in 1530 he had just explored the west coast of South America. He was already 50 years old; he had no formal education, he couldn't read or write, but he knew he had touched the frontiers of a great civilization. Pizarro announced to his men that he wanted to lead an expedition right to the heart of the empire. Many of his soldiers thought he was crazy and that it would be suicide. Standing on the beach in Panama, Pizarro drew a line in the sand. He said, "Those who want to go with me, cross this line. I cannot promise you anything but hardships--and possibly death. Those who wish comfort can return to Europe. But you will lose a great adventure--and maybe great riches." Well, 169 crossed the line Pizarro had drawn in the sand. And they did conquer one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen--the Inca Empire. Pizarro had many faults, some we would judge harshly today, but he also had something many of us lack: courage, decisiveness.

Joshua asked that same decisiveness of the Israelites when he gathered the tribes at Shechem. "You can turn back." Joshua told them. "Return to the gods of the culture if you want. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

At some point we have to make a decision, take a risk. Our first reading indicates just how dramatic that decision will be. Joshua summoned the tribes and said to them, "Decide today whom you will serve." Not tomorrow, not when you turn seventy, but this very moment. It's the only one you have. Who will you serve? God or the gods of the culture? Joshua's response, even after three millennia, still rings strong, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Josh 24:15)

Jesus desires such a response from us. It does not come easy. We live in an age of equivocation, also known as dissent. The mass media, driven by advertising, strive to convince us that at last we can have our cake and eat it too. It's one thing to fall for ads offering eternal youth or happiness without sacrifice. But it would be fatal to fall for this seductive offer: That we can call ourselves Christians and at the same time pick and choose which teachings of Jesus we will accept. Most of those Jesus fed in the desert tried to do exactly that. They wanted such a king, but when he told them they must eat his body and drink his blood, they hedged. They "returned to their former way of life." (Jn 6:66) Faced with the radical claims of Jesus, they sought refuge in what modern philosophers call the "autonomous self." But it provides only an illusory shelter - as the growing despair of our age shows.

Peter risked his very self by making a different response. When Jesus asked the apostles if they too would leave him, Peter said, "Master." That is, someone greater than me. "To whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." (Jn 6:68)

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Agosto ha sido un mes bien activo. La segunda sesión de nuestro Campamiento Bíblico fue un gran éxito y el día sábado tuvimos el “picnic” parroquia. Quisiera agradecer a todos que participaron en estos eventos. También un grupo de jóvenes voluntarios hizo la limpieza del nuevo lote y el terreno arriba de la parroquia.

El 2 de septiembre comenzamos un nuevo año escolar. Tenemos muchos retos como escuela y parroquia. Con la ayuda del Señor podemos enfrentarlos juntos. El 13 de septiembre, el Señor Abel Magaña será ordenado al diaconado permanente. Abel, como los diáconos Joe Dunne y Ted Wiese, es un hombre casado con familia. Ha trabajado en Holy Family ya por siete años. Rezamos por él (y su señora Leticia) al tomar este paso.