Stewardship and The End of the Christmas Season

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the last day of the season of Christmas. The length of the Christmas season depends on the day of the week on which Christmas falls. Advent begins on a Sunday and Christmas ends on a Sunday, and the two of them together are six weeks. But Advent can be short and Christmas long, or Advent long and Christmas short. This year, Advent was 23 days long and Christmas 20 days long.

While the average person might not care, you, who are clever, are probably asking, “How does this 20-day season square with the twelve days of Christmas?” Twelve is the number of days from December 25 through January 5, the day before Epiphany in countries that have not transferred it to a Sunday. In the old days, Epiphany marked the end of Christmas Time and the beginning of a period with the catchy name “Time After Epiphany,” which continued until the start of Lent. I assume that’s why people said there were twelve days of Christmas.

Many people believe Christmas Time still ends on the Epiphany of the Lord, but it ends today, with the Baptism of the Lord. Today’s feast only became part of the Church calendar in 1960, so it probably hasn’t really taken root in people’s minds. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is always the last day of Christmas–a day on which the season that celebrates the Incarnation races ahead to Jesus’ adulthood. The Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River is one aspect of the mystery of the Incarnation: the voice of the Father and the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the presence of the Son reveal God-come-in-the-flesh. So churches remain decorated for Christmas until Sunday, and the following day will be Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time. So Sunday is a good day for putting away the Christmas decorations. I hope you will really feel the difference when you return next week for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.


 

I am excited for our long-planned Annual Stewardship Renewal! I hope you take some time to go through the Ministry Fair today in Heritage Center and learn more about all the ministries we have in our parish, and how you can be involved in them. We won’t be taking any names today, though. That will happen next week on Commitment Sunday when you indicate your interest in a ministry on your commitment card. I hope you will remember to bring to church the commitment card that was mailed to your home. That card is where we hope all our members will make their commitments in the areas of time, talent, and treasure.

I know that making a decision about the stewardship of treasure is not always easy. Because some have expressed confusion about what exactly we are asking for on the commitment card in this area, I thought it would be helpful if I explained it in more detail. We at the parish are not asking you to reveal on your card what your total commitment to all charities would be. What we are hoping for is much simpler. On the card that I hope you’ll bring next week, we are only asking about what you’re intending to give in the offertory each week or month for regular parish operations. Here’s an illustration: if my income were $30,000 per year and I really took the plunge and committed to giving 10% to charity (that’s a “tithe”), I might decide to give 5% to my parish, 1% to the Archdiocese, and 4% to other charities. This is how that plan would look: I would give $1500 to the parish, $300 to the Archdiocese, and $1200 to all other charities. Of the $1500 for St. Peter’s, I might give $20 a week as an offertory gift, which comes to $1040 in the whole year. I might give the remaining $460 to the debt reduction campaign (which over the three years of the campaign would amount to a total commitment of $1380). But on my Stewardship commitment card, I would only write in the weekly gift of $20, which is an annual offertory gift of $1040. I hope this helps to clarify things for you.  If you have any questions as you are making your commitment please don’t hesitate to call the parish office.


 

I want to invite you to look ahead to January 22, which will be the 40th anniversary of the day in 1973 on which the United States Supreme Court struck down laws that banned abortion. Archbishop Nienstedt has asked us priests to help spread the word about a Holy Hour for Religious Liberty, Marriage, and Life. This holy hour will take place on Sunday, January 20 at the Cathedral of St. Paul from 3:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. You can read more about this event elsewhere in the bulletin, as you may wish to make it part of your observance of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I hope you will be able to join us!

I made some vacation plans for the week I was most free to be away from the parish, so I will be traveling on the weekdays of January 21-25. Only after I made my plans did I realize that I would be gone on the actual 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, which is a day of penance. I will have to figure out how I am going to observe that day while I am visiting friends in northwestern Florida. But back here, the Prayer Service for Life with Bishop Lee Piché will be at 10:30 on Tuesday, January 22, in the Cathedral of St. Paul. It will be followed by the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) rally outside the State Capitol.

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